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Azad India Restaurant
4762 CORNELL RD. BLUE ASH, OHIO 45241 | 513-530-9999
Azad India is Cincy’s newest Indian restaurant. They opened August 23rd and of course Cincy Vibe was there. Pulling into the Blue Ash plaza location, the town seemed eerily quiet. I missed out on the lunch buffet but a vast dinner menu featured more than enough to please even the most discriminating Indian food palate.
Friendly staff (including my main man Tony whom I’ve known for years now and have had the pleasure of being served by) welcomed me warmly. Before I even ordered the gracious owner offered me a (huge) sample of a vegetarian dish that was completely unfamiliar to me. Gobi Mongolian. It’s cauliflower florets, lightly battered, then tossed in a hot sticky sweet spicy garlic ginger sauce. Almost like top quality boneless BBQ wings. It was amazing. Freakin’ amazing. Azad could easily sell these things by the box or bucket. They’d go greeeaaat with a beer and a game. I was impressed, for the first time in a long time, over cauliflower!
I’m not easy to impress with Indian either. Especially on this fine Monday night. This just happened to be the third day in a row I had Indian (food). The first, was at Baba. Sucked. The lunch buffet quality was sad. Very Americanized. Few veggie offerings, stale naan, too creamy saag (creamed spinach) with chicken in it. Who’s ever heard of that? Chicken in saag? The worst part was it was cubed and looked like aloo or paneer. Just perfect for fooling some poor unsuspecting veghead resulting in a hurling heave of green spew onto the floor. I’m not a hardcore vegetarian but I do make a significant effort. I was offended by this stupid tactic. Paneer saag (cubed cheese) yes, aloo saag (cubed potato) yes, meat saag, no. That’s just a big bowl of wrong. Servers & staff corral you like you just enlisted in the army, you get hustled, hurried and coldly stared at. Plus, it was high priced to boot.
The second was a place in Dayton. Ajanta India (3063 Woodman Dr. Kettering). No use going into that. Except for the small issue of spending the next 12 hours in a gripping fear of straying from the toilet, thank you! Two full rolls of Scott paper later I had a comprehensive colon flush I didn’t even ask for (or see coming). You bastards!
Did I feel The Fear when my Indian food hit the table at Azad... maybe. Who am I kidding, hell yes I did, I was sweating before my tongue even touched the spice! Seriously. But I eat Indian all the time and rarely encounter side effects. I’m a die hard fan and one bad incident isn’t going to slow me down. Azad’s dishes looked great on the plate, the aroma alone had me hooked. The first forkful was mmmm--mmmm good too. I found my groove and dug in deep.
First up chicken curry ($9.75) after the unbelievably great Gobi Mongolian, I had doubts if this simple curry dish could measure up. It did. Moist chicken, condensed flavors of fresh tomato & peppers, I’d recommend it to anyone, Indian lover or otherwise. I followed that dish up with a hot naan and then dug into the aloo saag paneer ($9.99). Off the menu yes, but graciously accommodated by the chef. Deep, rich and powerful, this dish takes the top spot over all other saag to date. I’ve had some damn fine saag too so that’s a bold statement, but true. No over-creamy American style alterations kept the spinach in the forefront of flavors. Subtle hints of spice woke it up nicely. The paneer and potato was diced fine, not chunky (which is fine) like normal. It was different and perfect.
Did you say Chef? Yep, it’s true too. Azad’s Chef is a bona fide chef, degree on the wall and all. His culinary expertise not only shines through in his entree dishes, according to the owner it shines through in the lunch buffet too. “We have the classic Indian dishes on the buffet (curry, maters, masala, etc), including Southern Indian dishes (like my coveted Gobi Mongolian) and we also feature Asian dishes too...” I was caught off guard mid-chew by that one. What? Asian? Noodles were mentioned and that was enough to tempt me. I’ll be back to investigate this Asian-Indian buffet to the fullest extent of my belly. Asian-Indian buffet. How cool is that! For $7.99 it’s the best lunch you can buy in Blue Ash. You can get it take out too. Separate boxes for rice and dessert allow you to fill up on your favorite items and get enough to inspire a loosened belt and a noon nap. You can get enough to share even. Make certain you get some Gobi Mongolian. You could get a few office favors out of this dish if you so decide to share.
Azad is hopeful they can pull in a few Blue Ash working folks for lunch. I can’t see one reason why this place should not be a hit. Dinner time in Blue Ash rings with the sounds of crickets more than traffic so who knows on that one. But for their first day they did have several large take out orders and a handful of happy diners just while I was there. Once word spreads I think they’ll do fine.
Azad serves fine tradition Indian fare with a few Asian inspired buffet items and even a “food happy hour”. From 5-7 daily you can get 1/2 price appetizers and $3 off entrees plus a free dessert. The soon to come beer & wine license will enable them to discount drinks for the deal as well. Until then feel free to bring you own.
Bring a friend or co-worker too, be the first one in your office to dish the dope on Blue Ash’s newest buffet. Why feed on grey matter, flavor sprayed beef patty bullsh!t when you can dine on fine Indian, fresh ingredients and homemade desserts? Skip the fast food, this is way better, way better for you and it’s faster than the drive through too!
Note: no ill side effects were incurred in any way.