Try It, Try It

We enjoy a world of cuisine at my house. My husband and I regularly cook pork carnitas with homemade tortillas, big batches of marinara sauce, from-scratch hummus with chicken kebabs, and veggie-heavy stir frys. But preparing Indian food has remained a bit of a mystery to us. So I knew taking my 1-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter to the newly opened Open Tandoor on North Williams was going to be a stretch.

We arrived at the restaurant at 5 pm on a Friday evening and had the place to ourselves. (Pro tip: Parallel parking a minivan on Williams, which is a bike corridor, is not for the faint of Family Supper Nov2016heart. Find parking on a side street so you can avoid hitting a passel of bicyclists — as I nearly did.) While the establishment is set up for counter service, one server happily waited on us. We noted plenty of high chairs and boosters available.

We ordered the veggie pakoras ($7), and plain ($2.50) and garlic naan ($3) to start. My husband and I loved the pakoras, spicy little bundles of cauliflower, potato, kale, and spinach coated in chickpea flour and deep fried. I couldn’t get enough of the accompanying sweet tamarind chutney, while my husband dug the refreshing mint chutney. The kids sadly snubbed the pakoras and the sauces. But they downed the plain naan after we likened them to tortillas.

The kids’ plate ($7) at Open Tandoor smartly lets them pick and choose their meal: garlic, plain or cheese naan; brown or basmati rice; and chicken tikka or channa masala. It also includes mango soft serve ice cream, which our server wisely did not bring out until we asked for it. My 4-year-old liked her cheese naan. I resorted to quoting Green Eggs and Ham to get her to try the chicken tikka, but she only ate a small bite after we said she could not have the ice cream unless she tasted it. My 1-year-old, who’s generally a great eater, refused to try the chicken tikka too. But when he realized not much else would be offered, he proceeded to shovel basmati rice into his mouth. The rice was beautifully studded with toasted cumin seeds.

I ordered the sweet and flavorful butter chicken ($10), thinking the kids might try a bite or two. No dice, but that just meant more for me. My husband relished his yogurt-marinated lamb kebabs ($13). The
yogurt raita that came with both entrées was especially tasty and provided a cool contrast to all the spices. I’m not an expert on Indian cuisine, but I can say that the food was satisfying and delicious and
that all the spices were well-balanced.

So my kids only ate rice and bread. And ice cream. My husband and I felt the experience of exposing them to something new was worth one night of unbalanced eating. And maybe the next time we head out for Indian food, they’ll try more than the naan.

4311 N Williams Ave., Tuesday-Sunday, 11 am-9pm. Opentandoor.com

Fast-casual, high-quality spots are popping up all over Portland — and are perfect for kids. Order at the counter, and the food gets brought to your table. Check out more choices here: pdxparent.com/counter-restaurants.

 A Taste of India

Highly lauded food cart Tiffin Asha is moving to a brick-and-mortar restaurant at 1670 NE Killingsworth. They expect to open later this year.

You’ll wait on line for the food at fast-casual Bollywood Theater’s two spots on NE Alberta and SE Division, but trust us, it’s worth it. The kati roll is to die for, and big enough to split; kids will like the aloo tikki (potato patties).

The most authentic Indian food in the metro area is found out in Hillsboro, near the Intel campus. Try Chennai Masala’s lunchtime buffet and fill your kiddo’s plates with rice, curries and Indian snacks. 2088 NW Stucki Ave.

Denise Castañon
Denise Castañon

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