4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Sundara, an Indian kitchen with distinction

OB's go-to South Asian restaurant more memorable than most

Lamb biryani with egg, almonds, raisins, and saffron rice
Lamb biryani with egg, almonds, raisins, and saffron rice

Despite being a repeat customer at plenty of all-you-can-eat Indian food buffets, I don’t yet feel as though I have eaten all I can. Though I have left most of them well satiated, from a full belly standpoint, when I think back on all the many flavors that made it to my buffet plate, it’s largely a blur. That’s because, the assortment of curries etc. start to taste the same. Like I know what the tikka masala will taste like, and the tandoori chicken.

Place

Sundara

1424 Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, San Diego

Ocean Beach restaurant Sundara does not offer an all-you-can-eat special, but its dishes do stand out as distinct compared to many of the generic Indian restaurants we have scattered around the county. Some of that has to do with a willingness to create the occasional fusion dish: tikka masala pizza, for example. But to be honest, the restaurant does its best work sticking to Indian food canon.

Tikka masala pizza

Obviously, that means it’s tough to go wrong with staples such as samosas or naan. The dumplings come stiffed with either vegetables ($7) or lamb ($9), each served with chutney. The flatbread comes plain or with sesame seeds, with additional options including coated with cheese, dressed with garlic and cilantro, or a combination of all three ($3-5).

Saag paneer, a caramelized onion and spinach curry with cubed Indian cheese

Then there’s saag ($14), a curry of spinach and caramelized onion, served with option of vegetables or chicken mixed in, but ideally with the choice of the vagley cottage cheese-like paneer. At least, that’s how you’ll find it served most places, but here the sweet oil from the onion comes through a little more in contrast to the earthiness of the spinach, allowing the small cubes of paneer to center the dish both texturally and in terms of taste.

A small Indian kitchen in Ocean Beach

My favorite has been the lamb biryani ($18), a salty combination rice that makes beautiful use of aromatic spices to complement the gamey aromatics of minced lamb running throughout. The recipe is aided by hits of saffron rice, slivered almonds, slices of hard boiled egg, and the occasional sweet bites of golden raisins. That's a lot of stuff i don't typically expect to find on one plate, but it's sure easy to eat.

Garlic and cilantro naan, a soft flatbread with a little bit of char

Given current dining restrictions, it’s helpful to point out that Sundara’s online ordering system works quite well: I walked into the restaurant, picked a bag with my name on it off a front table, and walked out. I do believe the less than ten minutes total I spend in OB is a personal best.

But the greater point is, there’s more to Indian cooking than throwing spice blends into a pot, and visiting Sundara forces me to realize I need to continue to skip the buffets, even after the pandemic has passed, and redouble my focus on Indian restaurants that bring a little character to their dishes. They won’t always leave me feeling satisfied, but if experience teaches me anything, it’s that I’ll always have an appetite for more.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Our Lady Peace, Taste of Cardiff

Events December 5-December 8, 2021
Next Article

SEALS in Afghanistan, Panama, Vietnam, Grenada

Killer training in Coronado, spying for Koch in America's Cup race
Lamb biryani with egg, almonds, raisins, and saffron rice
Lamb biryani with egg, almonds, raisins, and saffron rice

Despite being a repeat customer at plenty of all-you-can-eat Indian food buffets, I don’t yet feel as though I have eaten all I can. Though I have left most of them well satiated, from a full belly standpoint, when I think back on all the many flavors that made it to my buffet plate, it’s largely a blur. That’s because, the assortment of curries etc. start to taste the same. Like I know what the tikka masala will taste like, and the tandoori chicken.

Place

Sundara

1424 Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, San Diego

Ocean Beach restaurant Sundara does not offer an all-you-can-eat special, but its dishes do stand out as distinct compared to many of the generic Indian restaurants we have scattered around the county. Some of that has to do with a willingness to create the occasional fusion dish: tikka masala pizza, for example. But to be honest, the restaurant does its best work sticking to Indian food canon.

Tikka masala pizza

Obviously, that means it’s tough to go wrong with staples such as samosas or naan. The dumplings come stiffed with either vegetables ($7) or lamb ($9), each served with chutney. The flatbread comes plain or with sesame seeds, with additional options including coated with cheese, dressed with garlic and cilantro, or a combination of all three ($3-5).

Saag paneer, a caramelized onion and spinach curry with cubed Indian cheese

Then there’s saag ($14), a curry of spinach and caramelized onion, served with option of vegetables or chicken mixed in, but ideally with the choice of the vagley cottage cheese-like paneer. At least, that’s how you’ll find it served most places, but here the sweet oil from the onion comes through a little more in contrast to the earthiness of the spinach, allowing the small cubes of paneer to center the dish both texturally and in terms of taste.

A small Indian kitchen in Ocean Beach

My favorite has been the lamb biryani ($18), a salty combination rice that makes beautiful use of aromatic spices to complement the gamey aromatics of minced lamb running throughout. The recipe is aided by hits of saffron rice, slivered almonds, slices of hard boiled egg, and the occasional sweet bites of golden raisins. That's a lot of stuff i don't typically expect to find on one plate, but it's sure easy to eat.

Garlic and cilantro naan, a soft flatbread with a little bit of char

Given current dining restrictions, it’s helpful to point out that Sundara’s online ordering system works quite well: I walked into the restaurant, picked a bag with my name on it off a front table, and walked out. I do believe the less than ten minutes total I spend in OB is a personal best.

But the greater point is, there’s more to Indian cooking than throwing spice blends into a pot, and visiting Sundara forces me to realize I need to continue to skip the buffets, even after the pandemic has passed, and redouble my focus on Indian restaurants that bring a little character to their dishes. They won’t always leave me feeling satisfied, but if experience teaches me anything, it’s that I’ll always have an appetite for more.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Mira Mesa First Assembly of God Church: a life transformed

Keeping the world out of the church and getting the church into the world
Next Article

‘Tis the Season for surf fishing Baja’s Pacific coast

Also Trout and Long Range Trips
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close