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    Restaurant Review ~ Bindaas / 2000 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

    Upscale street food. DC foodies who follow up on fab Indian food certainly know about Rasika, Indique, and The Bombay Club. Last year an Indian street food restaurant, Bindaas, opened up on upper Connecticut in Cleveland Park. The menu was a knockout, and wanna-be patrons must have despaired of ever getting seated.

    Well, good news for Indian food aficionados!! A bigger Bindaas has just opened in Foggy Bottom, about a block from the George Washington University campus. And while the menu closely resembles the first destination, a few new dishes show up. These include “French” fried potatoes with a very, very spicy sauce, a fiery way to kick off a meal. And a kind of chicken curry spooned onto rice made a dazzling dish.

    But the master Indian chef, Vikram Sunderam, who fashions the classic menus at the two Rasika restaurants and the two Bindaas destinations, has pulled it off again. Of course, his food is top-notch and even if Bindaas focuses on Indian street foods, patrons will walk out the doors envying the kind of goodies Indians must eat on a daily basis. Why not, one wonders, just pack a bag and head to New Delhi?

    What to order? Probably just about everything, as the portions are modest, inspiring patrons to really dig in. Starters — called here “chaat” — include several must-haves, such as the amazingly unusual avocado golgappa, which is a diminutive baked and hollowed flour-based pastry filled with mashed avocado and s dabble or two of sweet yogurt and tamarind chutney. Light and delicate, these will simply whet your appetite for other starters, such as house “salad,” a scoop of diced mango, papaya, jackfruit tossed with crispy chickpeas. Next up? Definitely the shrimp bezule, a rather unusual scoop of seasoned shrimp tossed with curry leaves and green chilies.

    Believe it or not, you will still want to keep ordering — that is the magic of Sunderam’s food: you can never quite get enough of the well-structured and exotic dishes. Fans of lamb will want either one  both of the included lamb-focused snacks — the lamb kathi roll, with a piece of seasoned lamb wrapped in Indian flatbread, and/or the lamb goli, which includes four spiced lamb meatballs served with Kashmiri chili. And do not forget the “French” fries. These are not listed on the menu, but just ask for them – delish!

    You could add on more, like the Goan pork and the chili salmon with the moilee sauce usually made with chilies, ginger, and curry leaves. But you must save room for the kulfi for dessert; shaped like a colorful spiral and served on a bed of sweet noodles, this unique creation of Indian ice cream makes for dazzling conclusion to the meal. And you will, of course, think about beverages: an Instant Dharma cocktail with sparkling wine and tequila may not be traditional Indian, but why not? And with dessert? A cup of masala chai!

    Bindaas /  Lunch, Mon.-Fri.; Dinner nightly. (202) 516-4326.

    Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Click here to visit her website.