Mango Grove and Mirchi Wok are the ultimate restaurant duplex. Two restaurants in a single building, offering everything in pairs --
- vegetarian southern Indian food at Mango Grove with northern Indian food at Mirchi Wok highlighted by chicken, lamb and fish
- traditional dosas, oothappam and curries with Chinese-Indian fusions
- sophisticated, sometimes-exotic flavors with friendly, casual staff that makes it feel like home
Mango Grove and Mirchi Wok are each among my favorite restaurants. The naan is perfect. The people are nice. Each menu is broad, and, together, the two restaurants offer variation that you could spend months exploring. These are simply-decorated, shopping center restaurants. But they're each a spicy date spot or a reasonably-priced place to become a regular.
Start with a mango lassi. Mrs. HowChow does. We normally start with one of these sweet yogurt drinks and an order of the vegetable samosas. The perfect fried food. Crisp on the outside. Warm, flavorful, but not greasy on the inside. Cut them open and dip with the mint and date sauces that come on the side.
Then, try anything. More than in any other HoCo restaurants, I have ordered all across these menus and never been disappointed.
To start, go to Mango Grove and try a masala dosa and a curry -- maybe baigan bartha if you like eggplant or palak paneer if you like spinach and a firm, mild cheese. The dosa will be an enormous thin crepe wrapped around a potato and onion filling. The curry will be delicious, simmered vegetables, perfect to scoop up with pieces of bread. Naan is our favorite, although the paratha and chappati are also good. (Poori is so fried that I prefer naan.)
Watch for the specials and tell the waiters about your preferences and your experience with Indian food. One night, we ate a jack fruit curry. Firm pieces of fruit that had a meat-like consistency, but a tender feel and the spicy flavor that makes Indian food so exceptional. More like perfect potatoes than the sweet, ripe jack fruit that you can buy in a can.
When you try Mirchi Wok, you can cross the sub-continent for the tandoori chicken of northern India and the Chinese-Indian fusion foods of the big cities. Chicken korma had a scrumtuous sauce -- again to be scooped up by naan. The fun standout was a rice dish whose name I can't remember. It was rice and chicken cooked together with spices so that it came out moist and full of flavor. Almost a jambalaya or a biryani. Note that it was dark meat, which I love but which doesn't excite everyone.
There is a lunch buffet, which was good one day when I had to wait for my car to be served across Dobbin Road. Take-out works well, although I have read complaints elsewhere about the time that it takes. I got dinner once in 25 minutes -- exactly when promised -- even though Mango Grove was filled by a wedding party. It seemed a reasonable wait, and my only regret was that I hadn't ordered an extra naan that I could eat in the car on the way home.
If you like Indian food, check out my post about Indian restaurants across the county or my profiles of the markets -- Desi Bazaar and Apna Bazar.
6365B Dobbin Center
Columbia, MD 21045
Near: On Dobbins Road just south of Rte 175. It is in a outbuilding of the Wal-Mart shopping center next to the McDonalds and the Chik-Fil-a.