I love Indian food. Well, I really love any food that that has lots of different textures and that is sweet, savory, sour, and spicy all at once.
Chaat, or Indian snacks, is a particular favorite. Austin doesn’t have many restaurants serve chaat, and none south of the river that I know of, so making the trek to the far north side of town to Bombay Express is always a treat.
Like lots of Austin restaurants, Bombay Express is in a big strip mall, but don’t let that food you. They serve amazingly delicious chaat that’s really cheap and really pretty.
A dosa is a very thin pancake made with fermented lentils and rice. Very often, they’re gigantic sheets rolled or folded and hanging over the edges of the serving platter.
Bombay Express’s version is delicate, crispy, deeply savory, and a tiny bit sweet. The pancake is served perfectly brown with spicy sambar and mild coconut chutney. They’re so good that I can’t not get one. If I don’t I know it might be a few weeks before I can get back to have one and I’ll think about it probably the whole time.
The bhel puri is crazy. It’s a bed of crispy puffed rice and crunchy-noodley sev topped with chopped potatoes, onions, and cilantro. The whole thing is drizzled with sweet-sour tamarind and verdant green chutneys, and a mystery hot chili sauce. Really, I have no idea what the hot sauce is, but it’s fantastic. All the ingredients together make what is possibly the perfect food. Every bite has a little of everything in it – crunchy, soft, spicy, sweet, sour, and savory. Again, it’s something that I want all the time, so I can’t not get it when the opportunity presents itself. I’ve got to learn to make it on my own.
On weekends, they serve a thali plate – a big, round tray with little portions of lots of dishes nestled in it. This visit’s had (clockwise from the bowl at the top) kadhi soup, pickle, galub jamun for dessert, cooling raita, cilantro chutney, vegetable pakoras, green beans, paneer curry, rice, roti, and a papadum. All for, I think, $9 or $10? Well, yes. Yes, I will, thank you very much. With that many dishes, who needs to decide that to have? Besides the dosa and bhel puri, I mean.
The restaurant is very casual. Order at the counter, take a number and your food is brought to you as each dish is ready. Bring a friend (or 3, or 4), order a bunch, and share it all as it comes out.
13000 N. IH 35, Building 12
Austin, TX 78753
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 11a-9p