Tashan [Bedford], Indian Fine Dining Finally in Boston

I’m exhausted from pruning blueberries bushes for 3 hours on the farm but just had a great first meal at Tashan. It is a stunning leap from the humble Gourmet India in the Burlington Mall food court. I’m not sure how owner Vishal Sood and his chef created these dishes, but it’s something you expect in Manhattan not Boston from the likes of Hermant Mathur. It’s the best Indian restaurant in Boston for sure, and can hold it’s own practically speaking anywhere.

Indians seem to me of the ethnic group that complains most bitterly about their own lack of quality dining options in the area. They are right, but it’s also right to say they are a really hard to please bunch, generally speaking. Actually the Japanese situation is far worse, but Japanese people are very adaptable and aren’t interested in eating Japanese most of the time. Old time food hunters used to say Mexican was least represented in Boston – I used to get a chuckle out of that and it’s simply not true anymore anyway. (I’d say, “Oh vey, these Mexicant’s don’t know how to Mexican and don’t know Japanese food for sure!”) So what I’m saying – I think this is an Indian restaurant even a very picky Indian diner can get behind, my favorite before this was Godavari. I’d guess most local Indians would probably agree.

We had Bindi, Cornish Game Hen, Cod Pakora, and a Bhuna Lamb Gosht. Everything was great. Although the location is pretty barren, Tashan is neighbors with a Panera and the corny fondue joint, there are just some other very spread apart office buildings in the area and lonely stretch of road from the back side of Burlington into Bedford, a really quiet but sizable town with no notable dining spots. The space is decorated nicely with a couple of murals, tasteful and not overdone. They do have a full bar, and while the drinks may not be first class, I don’t know, didn’t try, everything is there from cocktails like a Bourbon encased in a glass box of smoke to beers. Despite the nice decorations, it lacks a little bit of visual interest because it’s pretty much one huge room with no divisions or booths, but everything is nice and tables spread apart comfortably. It needs some drapes or something, hmm. Bedford people have no right to have nice things anyway, all they want is Panera, HomeGoods, Netflix, and ice cream from Whole Foods or worse.

I mean it’s surprising to discuss ambiance in a Indian restaurant to begin with. The servers have been trained to be attentive, I’ve honestly never seen Indian wait staff in Boston actively looking for water glasses to refill, or swapping out appetizer dishes for dinner plates. But it’s not stuffy, our leftovers we packed ourselves. Some of the staff are a bit nervous, you can tell they aren’t used to this level of service. (At one point the server came to give us clean plates but we didn’t need them. I took them anyway just in case the boss was watching him or something, he seemed to REALLY want to swap those plates out.) Some are not but it’s all a comfortable level of care you are in, not overdone again. Vishal warmly greeted every table in his easy accent-free English and checked in from time to time. He obviously cares very much and this is his new pride and joy. He is an extremely imposing figure, likely 2 meters tall, but so gentle and welcoming. It is pleasant to see a man who hustled for many years really enjoy his new baby.

We started with some Cod Fish Pakoras, packed with flavor and a bit too much salt in the batter, but very tasty and the either rinsed or marinated red onions were a nice compliment. Prices are a bit high, spent 100 before tip, but worth it, and despite slightly smaller portions than typical, we took a bit of okra home.

The Cornish Game Hen came next, the sauce garnish seemed a bit funnily squiggled down, like the stager lacked a bit of confidence, and a very small amount of it, but no matter the Hen was a real grown-up’s Tikka Masala. It was served on a pressed cake made out Upma of all things! Upma is one of my favorite indian foods, it’s basically a mildly spiced semolina porridge, I get it all the time at Godavari. It’s a poor man’s dish, a peasant staple. To see it transformed into a upscale accompaniment was really fun and interesting, and most of all, tasty.

We had Bhindi/Okra, it was great, slathered in saucy sliced onions and left whole. Very filling I must say! I would recommend it to round out a meal if you eat kinda big like me.

The Bhuna Lamb Gohst is one of two Gohsts and it was very delicious for lack of better word. 8 or so chunks of tender Lamb that didn’t lose it’s character in an extremely thick and deep flavored curry sauce.

This is a pretty serious restaurant even in the wait staff isn’t as pro as you might find in trendy new American places. I ate at Chickadee last night the bill was $150 with one beer. While the execution may be slightly higher at Chickadee, some dishes just didn’t make any sense flavor wise, like the duck breast. Perfectly fine two slices of duck perched on tiny cubes of fruit salad. But the salad was smokey, not the breast. It was kind of weird to be honest, I couldn’t get over it. Some new American places hit it out of the park like Brassica or ASTA. But some times with new American not really being a platform, it can be a bit to open to wild interpretation.

So I enjoyed my first dinner at Tashan very much and will return. It is more than creative plating and some (con)fusion. It’s not fusion at all. There is thought and modernization and mostly creative uses of cooking techniques more than anything. In this light, it is akin to Manita’s cooking at Cha Yen Thai, she blends western and eastern cooking techniques all the time to great effect. I think the Cornish Game Hen, a subversion of Tikka Masala, on Upma, showcases this ingenuity that I describe.

They do not serve lunch, they do not have buffet. They do serve brunch though but if I know Indians, they are gonna hit that place hard every weekend at 11:30 sharp. I think Vishal has a hit so long as Indians and others are okay with the high but fair prices. This is certified # anon6418899licious

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Thanks for another “find” but at the risk of igniting another skirmish I must say that I find these racial generalizations offensive. Is it not possible to simply talk about the food?

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But it’s true!

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Wow!

Funny. I always tell people that with Indian restaurants, there is an inverse relationship between Yelp star ratings and food quality. The Indian people I dine with are the most discerning and critical reviewers I know. An Indian restaurant with a low star rating is an Indian restaurant where Indian people eat. An Indian restaurant with a high star rating is all gringo, all the time.

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I agree they don’t mess around. They want it at least at the level like they do it at home, for example mortar and pestle ground spices for each dish, they know the difference. Grabbing a box of pre-mix curry is worse than phoning it in for them, it’s like going getting fast food when you were expecting fine casual. Westerners can appreciate this too, but it takes experience. There is a reason why there are so many Indian markets and why they are full of raw ingredients, whole spices, and unprocessed foods. This group actually still cooks and you can fool them with fancy add-ins or platings. So I stand by my original post. As a person of color I might add.

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Your and @anon6418899’s posts are interesting. As a Korean, I know that Koreans will be the most critical customers of Korean restaurants amongst themselves (“this is nothing close to my bulgogi, which is the best”). But they will, of course, patronize those Korean restaurants and maybe tell their non-Korean acquaintances, “this place has the best bulgogi.” :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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I’ll echo @fooddabbler on the racial generalizations being unnecessary (I don’t want to debate correct or incorrect when it’s utterly not germane).

FYI, the food Indians eat at home is not the food served at indian restaurants — we go out to restaurants to eat that food.

(Also, being a POC isn’t license to generalize about anyone or make racial comments. What does Vishal’s “accent-free English” have to do with anything?)

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I see that @anon6418899 ’s post was flagged and the content is hidden as a result. I just want to say, if we are going to flag and hide posts like this, it will be a very short stint for me in this forum. There is already a dearth of actual food content here. The forum is obviously hanging on by a thread, and cannot afford to lose the one person (and really, it is just one) who consistently posts robust food content. I was hoping to start adding real content to the forum myself, and help bring it back to some modicum of the life I suspect it once had. For anyone who says you were offended by the generalizations in the OP, I will take you at your word, but respectfully ask you to suck it up.

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Actually, no — no one needs to suck anything up in 2022.

It should really not be too much to ask for a post about food to skip racist comments and generalizations.

It doesn’t make the content any funnier or more interesting, and it doesn’t inform the review of the food.

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No, no one needs to suck it up. Especially if no one wants a useful Boston area food forum. When is the last time you posted something about Boston-area food? For me, the idea here is to have robust discussion about Boston area food. That requires, as an absolute prerequisite, a set of people who actually post about Boston area food. If you want to run those people out because you don’t like their tone, you can have your pleasant-but-worthless forum.

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I think you are in the wrong forum.

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Before you showed up, as it turns out - take a look.

(And yet, that is not relevant — the point is you don’t need racism for food reviews, at least not on this forum, irrespective of what region you are posting about.)

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I did look it up. There’s nothing there. And the fact that you say it’s not relevant is exactly the problem. It is the MAIN thing that’s relevant. There needs to be robust food content here, even if it means putting up a little with personalities that aren’t your speed. It’s quite obvious that this forum is about to dwindle to nothing, and it’s not because of anyone’s tone. It’s because there’s basically no one here posting about food. It’s the Boston-Area-Tone-Police forum. Join me in changing that! Go eat somewhere! And post about it!

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Alright I am a horrible racist bigoted person of color who can’t even say that I’m a person of color so you are right I am wrong bye

I’m with you. You spent time crafting a truly great post - filled with excellent, descriptive content about a restaurant that I and I’m sure most of us have not been to yet. Thank you! And you added in some colorful personal anecdotes and reflections - exactly what a forum like this should be about. I promise to go to this place myself very soon and post my own reflections. I might disagree with you on some things about this restaurant, which would be great! Let’s get into an argument about the quality of the food and service! I invite everyone else in this thread to join me! Put @anon6418899 in his place by going to this restaurant, discussing it, and telling him all the ways he is wrong about it.

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Our restaurants and food sources absolutely need each and every one of our voices. Please. Be. Civil. Talk about food and, to paraphrase Oasis, don’t post in anger.

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Not trying to wade into the controversy here, but I will add my own explicitly anecdotal experience based on working in an industry with many South Asian ex-pats whom I routinely press to recommend restaurants in Greater Boston that they like. More than eighty percent of the time, the response is along the lines of, “I eat in local South Asian restaurants out of convenience, not because they are particularly good, but here are one or two that I find not bad.” (Godavari, Ritu ki Rasoi, and Royal India Bistro are among the frequent mentions. I’m a fan of all of them.)

If the respondent is a dude, it’s usually qualified by, “Because my [wife or mom] cooks much better food at home for me.”

Again, purely anecdotal. My sample size is probably under 200, and dates back 20 years or so, which includes a period when the number and regional diversity of options here was much smaller. For instance, I can recall some general excitement about the arrival of Indian-Chinese options on local menus maybe 15 years ago, and they’re hardly a novelty now.

When I first settled in Boston as a dewy youth, it was nearly impossible to find many regional Indian cuisines beyond a dish or two here and there, never mind Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Sri Lankan options. Our current assortment may be underwhelming for people with a highly educated perspective on South Asian cuisine – I’m not one of those, though I’ve long lamented the lack of fine-dining options comparable to multiple places I’ve visited in London and one in Manhattan – but I still think we’ve come a long way from the bad old days of identical Punjabi / Mughlai menus with one Goan option. (We have had brushes with fine-dining refinement: Mantra and Tamarind Bay in their early days.) I remain grateful for the overall steady improvement in quality and diversity here.

I’m thrilled to read a rave for Tashan, did not expect much of it based on the owners’ first splash here – being the best thing in the Burlington Mall food court is a pretty low bar – only wish it served lunch. I hope to make a dinner trip soon.

(One more anecdote related to service, which indeed was dismal in South Asian restaurants here for many years, perhaps because workers were paid so stingily. I talked up a Back Bay place I liked, the long-gone Kebab n’ Kurry, but warned my date that the service was comically surly, like, “Meet every request with a disgusted eyeroll, drop every dish from a height of six inches” hostile. We went and got the sweetest, most solicitous server I’d ever had in a local Indian restaurant to that point, to my date’s great amusement. A good way to be wrongedty-wrong-wrong!)

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