When I was in Charleston briefly, a friend took me to Little India for some of the best Indian food I've ever had. It's right on Washington Street East, so pretty visible - even a non-Charlestonian like me could find it with ease.
I was told they had an awesome chicken tikka masala, so I said yes please! It's like my benchmark of Indian food. It's like the General Tso's of Indian food. I also got an order of vegetable pakoras. The menu is full of appetizers, tandoori/vegetable/chicken/goat dishes, seafood, rice and desserts. Quite a selection.
The owners are a family who are passionate about bringing Indian food to West Virginia - which is great. We need it. Their head chef is from Goa, India, and specializes in North Indian, South Indian and Indo-Chinese cuisine, as per their website. Authentic, delicious cuisine right in the heart of West Virginia? Absolutely.
The interior of the building is fairly casual with some Indian flair on the walls. They have an upstairs lounge, and lunch and dinner buffets. My visit was between lunch and dinner, so no buffet was available then. But when all our food came out, it was like our own private buffet selection.
My chicken tikka masala was a tender pieces of chicken marinated in a tangy creamy tomato-based sauce with ginger, garlic and other spices. It came in a large pot separate from another pot of rice. I think this tikka masala was considerably sweeter than other times I've had it, but it made it more rich and delicious. We ordered some naan, too, which helped sop up every last drop of deliciousness.
The pakoras were tasty and added another element - that fried, crunchy element. There were a few sauces on the table and I chose a sweet one to pair with the vegetable fritters. It's like an exotic homecooked meal. It certainly wasn't the comfort food I grew up on, but it still gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
If you're from Charleston, you're probably thinking "duh," but if you aren't, definitely give it a go. I can't wait to go back.
1604 Washington St. East, (304) 720-3616, www.littleindiawv.com.
Lunch Buffet: Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday from noon until 3 p.m.
Sunday Buffet: Noon to 8 p.m.
Dinner Hours: Monday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.