Thursday, January 13, 2011

Star of India(rkansas)

301 North Shackleford Road (in a large strip mall near Kroger)

On the occasion of another visit to Star of India, I would like to make a few quick observations about it, since it was one of the first southeast asian restaurants in central Arkansas.

The place performs the dual function of restaurant and performance space for the owner and master-of-ceremonies -- the way-over-the-top, Sammi Lal. I remember a time when they began serving Indian beer, and Sammi strode out of the kitchen with a tray of beer loudly proclaiming "Indian beer is wonderful beer. God Bless America!" (Always sensitive to the feelings of his paying customers, that Sammi).

But, enough of that. The food is ... OK. It's Indian by way of Little Rock, i.e., it's undergone the same sort of metamorphosis that created Tex-Mex to the south of us, and maybe not so successfully. The more authentic Amruth (11121 North Rodney Parham / 224-4567) serves food that may be too spicy for the general public, but it's the place to go when you have a hankerin' (I can't believe I just wrote that) for a big 'ole dose of turmeric and cardamom.

Sometimes, the service in Star of India becomes very Shiva-esque, i.e., as though all of the waiters had six arms and they were simultaneously reaching to fill your water glass, take your plate (before you've finished eating), re-filling your tea, etc. I've actually had to cover my plate with my hands to protect it from being removed by these very earnest people. But, at least, they're trying to provide good service, which can be a commodity in preciously short supply at many other restaurants in the area. Namaste.

So, what's the bottom line? Star of India serves very average, quasi-Indian food with a side dish of obsequious service. It has survived and, apparently, profited largely due to the lack of any real competition, together with its astute muting of true southeast asian flavors to accommodate American tastes. It's what Arkansans think Indian food tastes like. And, if you're from some other part of the country, you may be a bit disappointed.


At 9:19 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe Bob, are you indian? My family is. And many of our central AR friends are. Star of India is quite authentic. I realize any body with a computer can blog.. I just hope others realize that your opinion is simply that.


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