As we wrote in our 10-in-One series in August, Freighthouse Square restaurants are in a constant state of flux. Restaurants there come and go at a faster pace than even the rest of the ever changing restaurant industry. Even if your visits are a single month apart, you may find two or three new restaurants, or an equal number of closed restaurants.
Our most recent Freighthouse find this week is Little India Express. The small Indian restauarant replaces M and J’s Lumpia, which served Filipino food. (Also gone are Cyber Pasta, which specialized in inexpensive pasta and espresso; and Bochino’s Fine Sausage, the hot dog stand near Rosie’s Asian BBQ. No word on what will fill those now vacant spaces).
As for Little India Express, it’s a welcomed addition to the already eclectic mix of ethnic eats at Freighthouse. The menu is recognizable Indian fare, entrees in the $8-$10 range; vegetarian dishes are around $6-$7 each.
The abbreviated menu is a collection of a dozen masalas, kormas, biranyis and curries in meat and vegetarian versions. The appetizer menu lists samosas, naan and roti. Lentil, tomato basil and mulligatawny soups looked interesting and worthy of ordering on a follow-up visit.
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If you’re a newcomer to eating Indian food, the spicing may work for your palate, but serious fans of Indian food may find the flavors too mild. IE: if you’re a diner used to the spicing level at Gateway to India or Bombay Bistro, you may not have your taste buds teased much by Little India Express. The restaurant offers more of a fast-food style of Indian food (much like what you would find on a lunch buffet), and portions are generous.
Veggie samosas ($2.95 for two) were two golden-fried triangles stuffed with a mildy spiced creamy potato-pea mixture. The accompanying tamarind sauce offered a sour accompaniment to the fried pastries. There was no mistake we had ordered garlic naan ($2.95)– the warm flat bread was coated with a layer of deliciously aromatic, pungent garlic. We used the bread as a sponge to soak up the mildly spiced curry sauces.
The coconut curry ($7.95 with chicken) was the most flavorful of dishes sampled. Tender chunks of chicken breast were suspended in a mellow orange curry sauce, the accompanying bed of basmati rice was generous. Vindaloo ($8.95) with lamb carried a mild vinegary bite; and spicing was extremely mild, even with the requested three of five stars. Both entrees came with a green salad on one visit.
At some Indian restaurants, you may find vegetable filler rounding out a curry or vindaloo. We noticed the entrée dishes we sampled at Little India Express were pared down to the basics: meat, sauce and rice. No vegetable fillers –carrots, broccoli or peas, for instance– were incorporated into the entrees we tried; rather, the sauces were plump full of meat. If you like veggies with your entrees, veer toward the vegetarian menu, or ask for veggies to be added to your entrée. If you consider an entrée loaded with meat your kind of eating, than you’ll be happy.
Elsewhere in Freighthouse: Just down the corridor, we noticed that the space formerly housing the small sushi operation is still covered in black sheeting. No word yet on what may go in there, although a waffle restaurant was advertised as coming soon, but that was several months ago. We’ll keep checking back to see if any tenants move into the vacant spaces formerly occupied by Cyber Pasta and Bochino’s.
Little India ExpressWhere: Freighhouse Square, 430 E. 25th St., TacomaPhone: 253-272-0770Read our 10-in-One series we wrote about 10 Freighthouse Square restaurants in August 2009.