Karma Indian Cuisine and Lounge has a new home — again.
The South Hill restaurant returned Feb. 21 to its original location on Meridian in the same strip mall as a martial arts studio and auto glass business.
The move follows a temporary relocation three months ago in November. That move was about six blocks away to the same building that houses its sister business, the Speakeasy Lounge.
Karma underwent what its owners described on Facebook as a few improvements.
The decor improvements look minor with a few changes to the bar and seating in the back dining room. New artwork anchors the walls.
The Karma menu looks just as it did at the previous location with a broad selection of Indian favorites.
Some menu prices increased slightly. It still lists seven styles of tandoori-cooked meats/seafood ($13.95 to $20.95) and Indian specialties such as vindaloo ($12.95 to $14.95), tikka masala ($14.95), saag ($13.95 to $14.95), korma ($14.95) and makhani ($14.95), all with a choice of meats.
Four biryani rice dishes are listed ($12.95 to $14.95), more than a dozen kinds of naan ($2.75 to $5.95), samosas ($4.95 to $5.95) and a vegetarian menu of 20 items ($10.95 to $12.95). Lunch offers a short menu of $9.95 to $13.95 plated lunches (there is no buffet).
Look to the menu’s Page 3 for what I think is the restaurant’s (and among the area’s) best dining deal.
A multi-course Indian dinner for two is $41.95, with the option of a vegetarian version for $39.95.
Really, it should be called “dinner for four.”
It’s an abundance of food with an appetizer, rice and bread, three medium-sized entrees and dessert.
The meal starts with a choice of appetizers. My go-to is the samosas with spiced potatoes and peas in a fried pastry crust served with a trio of sauces (mint chutney, tamarind and vinegar-punched chile paste). Mini fritters, called pakoras, are another appetizer choice.
For meat eaters, there’s chicken or lamb curry, tandoori or butter chicken and a choice of a vegetarian entree.
For that vegetarian entree, make mine bharta, a slow-simmered eggplant dish that tastes like a Punjabi version of baba ganoush. Mild spices, a creamy texture and sweet bursts of peas make this my favorite bharta in Pierce County.
Pick the butter chicken over the tandoori. The dish gets its name for its creamy, rich sauce, and it certainly was here, with a tart tomato backbone, aromatic spicing and lots of cream swirled into the dish that can be as mild or spicy (on a scale of 1-5) as desired.
Lamb curry is another specialty here, and one I’d pick over the chicken simply because lamb dishes are usually expensive and this is a screaming deal.
It arrived as a deeply flavored, rich-and-spicy stew with both large and small cubes of tender lamb.
A basket of hot naan came with the entrees as well as a bowl of fluffy basmati rice dotted with whole spices.
For dessert, there’s rice pudding or the gulab jamun, fried dough balls suspended in a sweet syrup. Both are fantastic.
For the vegetarian version of the dinner-for-two, diners get an entree of dal makhani and two choices from the 20-item vegetarian list. Other than bharta, I like the vegetable achari with cubed potatoes in an onion and pepper sauce with spicy pickles (that look like capers) and cauliflower.
For those who know Karma as one of few cocktail destination in South Hill, the menu still lists more that 20 martinis and specialty cocktails ($9 to $17), plus beer and wine.
Ramesh Kumar first opened Karma in 2008 as Sumay Fine Indian Cuisine but changed the name later.
One tradition will continue at the restaurant. I spotted an advertisement on the menu that Karma will still host its monthly offer of a free dine-in meal for military members, veterans, police officers and firefighters. The meal is offered 5-8:30 p.m. the last Tuesday of every month.
Karma Indian Cuisine and Lounge
Where: 12623 Meridian E., Puyallup
Info: 253-770-6276 or karmaindiancuisineandlounge.com