BKC (Bismillah Kabob-n-Curry) - Searching for Good Indian Food in SD Part 2

>> Monday, November 7, 2011

Date of Dining: 9/29/2011 
Price: $6-$13 per appetizer, $10-15 per entree
Location: 5450 Clairemont Mesa Blvd #G, San Diego, CA 92117

The Quick Bit:
+ Adequate Indian Meat dishes
+ Strong, aggressive spicing
Δ Tables could be larger
Δ Service could be more consistent

It has been awhile since I've made a post on the many series posts I have running, especially in the Indian Food Search. While I would love to have an excuse like I just didn't visit any restaurants, the reality is that there have just been so many other things to post since October that I didn't get a chance to fit these posts in.
After making the first post about Indian food, I received an overwhelming amount of feed back from friends and coworkers urging me include/try several different restaurants as part of the search. I got three separate recommendations from people that don't know each other to try BKC, so I thought it would be a good second stop. Technically, BKC is slightly cheating as the food seems slightly more Pakistani than Indian. However, I'm going to pretend I'm ignorant of these things and just clump it into the Indian food as most diners would probably not be able to distinguish the differences in the cuisine.
Another reason I chose BKC was that there was a special item on the menu that I thought many of my readers would want to hear about: Magas Masala (Behja Fry). Prior to going to BKC, I did google this dish and found out that there were two varieties - the deep fried and stir fried version. I resolved to try this dish only if the stir fried version was the one served. Unfortunately when querying the waitress, she explained that their version of the dish was deep fried. Further, BKC serves a special Biryani dish after weekend prayer service (I want to say around 3pm Sunday), which I also didn't get to sample due to dining there for dinner. However, I still felt that I got a good feel for the restaurant with the dishes that were sampled.
Upon arriving at the restaurant, we were greeted by an older gentleman waiter that did not take a very friendly demeanor with our group. Luckily we were rescued by a younger female waitress who ended up being our server for the night and gave us excellent service. However, the initial impression I got left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth throughout the meal.

garlic naan
As I'm no Indian food expert, perhaps the dish I can judge the best at each restaurant is the garlic naan. This particular garlic naan was slightly below average. There was a nice crust and crispy texture to the bottom of the naan. Unfortunately, the positives of the naan ended there. There was a lot more coriander than garlic, which threw off the balance of the garlic flavor, and the bread was slightly cold and too chewy. 
As I had not had papadum in the past, the table insisted that I take this opportunity to try it. This particular papadum seemed baked rather than deep fried, which I found positive. However, I seemed to not understand how to properly eat with this accompaniment. While I was using it as a naan substitute, I felt a great desire to have naan instead.
house salad and mint chutney
Perhaps the papadum was meant to accompany what I took for a house salad and mint chutney, but the papadum arrived so late that these accompaniments were forgotten. The salad was a typical side salad expected at any restaurant, and the mint chutney seemed like it had missed its prime by about three hours prior to our arrival.

The chief complaint about curry dishes is that some restaurants will use the same base sauce for the curries and then take shortcuts to cut down on prep (even though all sauces should be different). We ordered in such a way to be able to make a determination if the restaurant took this shortcut.
Kashmiri kabob masala - boneless tandoor chicken, cooked in herbs & spices
Considered one of the restaurant's signature dishes, we decided that this would be a good dish to evaluate on the sauce differential. For being a signature dish, this dish delivered on the flavor. The sauce was packed with a nice spicy punch and had a nice thickness to it. The chicken was overcooked, but this is a common thing in Indian cuisine, so I did not hold it against them. By the time this plate was taken away, the plate was largely white as we had used the naan to sop up any extra curry.
paneer tikka masala - gourmet dish made with marinated tandoor paneer & tomato base gravy
To compare the Kasmiri kabob, we ordered the paneer tikka masala. While both dishes contain masala, I was assured that the sauces should have been different enough that a proper cook would prepare each sauce individually. Unfortunately, these sauces were definitely the same sauce. Where the Kashmiri kabob added spice to the sauce, the paneer tikka masala seemed to add sugar to the base sauce.
The curry itself was largely enjoyable as the sauce still contained a nice thick texture that was complimented by some sweetness. However, the texture of the paneer seemed too tough as it was dry to the point where it was actually chewy like overcooked chicken. 

lamb karahi - delicately spiced lamb pieces cooked in a karahi (wok)
This dish was the best dish of the night. The lamb pieces included bones including some pieces that included gelatinous bits of bone marrow. The spicing was aggressive to convey depth of flavor, but restrained enough to not overwhelm the palette. This dish also had a nice kick of spiciness that took it to the next level. 

gulab jamun - North Indian sweet dumplings
In addition to the naan, apparently I have been volunteered to sample the gulab jamun at every Indian restaurant.
These particular gulab jamun had been previously frozen and not completely thawed as biting into the center released a large concentration of cold breading. Additionally, I felt the simple syrup was a bit overly sweet and lacked refinement.

While it may seem like I was overly critical on many of these dishes, I did end up enjoying the the meal at BKC. While I don't think it is the best Indian food in San Diego, it is Indian food that I would return to enjoy again in future. The curries and meats were prepared with ample flavor and were aggressively spiced to be more interesting than the run of the mill curry. However, if I was a vegetarian, I would avoid BKC as their strength seems to lie in mainly in their meat-based dishes.


Yao November 8, 2011 at 7:24 AM  

Damn, when I was an undergrad, I used to smuggle bags of pappadam from home so I would have enough of a supply to last a year. Those things are so addictive... you just reminded me of another thing I need to eat this Christmas!

TWO FOODIES – ONE JOURNEY November 8, 2011 at 9:35 AM  

Have you tried Punjabi Tandoor ? It's the best we have found so far in SD for Indian food. It's more a take out place with just a few tables but has surprisinly good food, meat (their lamb and chicken dishes are good and they have also a goat dish on their specials menu which has a lot of bones but good taste) and vegetarian dishes (Bengan Bharta, Bhindi Masala, Saag Paneer).

James November 8, 2011 at 10:25 PM  

@2foodies - I have been to Punjabi Tandoor, but not in the context of the food search. It will definitely be one of the stops, but I don't have imminent plans for it.

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gastro bits is a blog that juxtaposes the geeky with the foodie; it is an attempt to be educational about food, yet entertaining at the same time.
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