When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Restaurant: Khaana Khazana Location: 4929 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler Open: Almost a month Eats: Indian Price: $11 to $30 per person
Khaana Khazana is a lot like Cafe Krishna, the restaurant it replaced. In fact, it's pretty much the same thing.
With a name that translates to "treasured foods," the restaurant has the same owner, new management, and, instead of offering both northern and southern Indian dishes, now focuses on just the northern ones.
Not such a bad thing.
You'll find many familiar Indian dishes here, including several selections of thalis (meals made up of various small dishes), as well as starters, chaats (Indian street food), and light entrees.
The khasta kachori chaat, ($5) which has origins in northwest India's arid region of Rajasthan, is very good. Made with small pillows of crisp, golden puri (deep-fried bread) stuffed with a spiced filling and covered in handfuls of chili and cumin powder, onions, coriander, sev (thin strands of fried and spiced gram flour), and a few dollops of yogurt, it's a boldly flavored sweet, spicy, and tangy snack.
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For those who like paneer, the vegetarian-friendly Indian soft cheese, ask your amiable server for an off-menu plate of paneer tikka and pudina paneer tikka ($6). Served with veggies, the grilled chunks of cheese are crisp on the outside, soft within, and the pudina variety makes for a refreshing, minty complement to its slightly spicy partner.
And although you've probably had Gobi Manchurian ($8), the popular Indo-Chinese appetizer, at other Indian restaurants in the Valley, Khaana Khazana's version -- thanks to battered and deep-fried cauliflower florets that are pleasantly fresh, crispy and sauteed with veggies in a spicy, sweet, and tangy sauce -- might be one of the better ones.
With the exception of a few minor updates, the space is pretty much the same as the former Cafe Krishna, a large and orderly room with appointments of Indian decor and -- at least for now -- booths and tables awaiting customers.