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Desii Wok, Springfield - Indo-Pak Chinese in Backlick Plaza - Closed


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Desii Wok website. This is a new place in the Backlick Plaze shopping center. This is the same shopping center as Gamasot, in front of the El Grande/Fresh World Asian-Latino supermarket. We were over there picking up some groceries, and saw the 'Grand Opening' sign. I haven't been yet, but I'm curious as to see what Indo-Pak style Chinese is like.
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There's a large Chinese population in Calcutta, in eastern India. It's Cantonese, brought over and melded with Halal-influenced Indian - think chili chicken, hakka noodles, Mongolian beef, etc. - I'd love to have this in Calcutta since it wouldn't be at all Americanized. Either way, you should not have an aversion to MSG, and you might consider staying with some dryer foods (i.e., not bathing in sauce), though you'll need some moisture.

It's an important, highly populated area (think about it: China, India), and not the richest region in the world. Looking at the menu, my very first order here might be: Desli Special Soup, Chicken Chili Dry, and Sizzling Beef Manchurian - or maybe some variation thereof. Let us know?

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i'm quite familiar with indian chinese food, and it's fabulous--think chinese techiniques with an indian influence, including a lot of chili, ginger, and garlic and the liberal use of corn and paneer. As Don mentioned, if you've had chili chicken or hakka noodles, you've had indian chinese (i am utterly addicted to hakka noodles and would love to know of a good local source!). sadly, since all the indian chinese i've ever had is vegetarian, i can't give you tips on any of the items on the Desii Wok menu, most of which seem non-veg. however, in general, manchurian is a fabulous preparation--take a base--chopped veg or cauliflower are the most common--batter, fry, and toss in a tangy sauce--and the base (cauliflower or whatever) doesn't matter as much given the strong flavor of the sauce. so i'd probably try the chicken manchurian, in general i've been dissapointed by indian fried rice and spring rolls--the ones i've had have been basically the same as unexceptional chinese ones--but maybe the pakistani-chinese versions are different.

ps-don--indian chinese food in calcutta is seriously ridiculously good. indo chinese is great elsewhere, like mumbai, but the stuff i've had in calcutta is particularly great.

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Stop the presses! Move over, Gamasot! I had lunch today at Desii Wok, and entering with modest expectations, I was completely blown away....! Get there, Don Rockwell, post haste, and verify these observations!

Desii Wok is a nicely appointed, 120-seat restuarant in the middle of some very nice food places in Backlick Plaza. The owner is Sayeer Ali, a Pakistani who is very pleasant and well-spoken. He described for me the concept of Pakistani-Chinese fusion, going back to when Pakistan and India were both together under British rule, and the Silk Road to Europe ran through it. Many Chinese settled in Calcutta during this time, and brought their style of cooking together with the tastes of India, and thus was born the fusion of Sino-Indo-Pak cuisine. He also commented on how he was trying to make the dining establishment a pleasant place to eat, unlike the many drab Pakistani restuarants in the area. As an example, he has purchased 20 paintings for the walls, and some six of them are currently hanging.

On to the food. I had the $8.99 lunch special, and let me warn you, the lunch special can easily feed two or three people. It began with the Desii Special Soup, which came out in a bowl larger than a typical large bowl of pho in a Vietnamese restaurant. It was as thick as a typical bowl of egg-drop soup in an Americanized Chinese restaurant, probably because it also had egg in it, but it was also loaded with chunks of chicken and shrimp, all in a reddish and peppery broth. It was an amazing combination of flavor and texture, and again, it was enough to feed three people. I liked it so much I emptied the bowl....and then out came the egg-fried rice and Chicken Manchurian! The chicken was swimming in a spicy reddish sauce with strips of peppers and scallions, and the rice was loaded with shredded carrots, scallions, eggs, and some nice spice. This dish was flawless. Did I mention that all of this food was $8.99?

This was an outstanding meal -- the flavors were vibrant and fresh, flawless and unique. Yes, unique, as in where the heck are you going to find a better Sino-Indo-Pak halal meal in the DC area?

Sayeer is now aware of donrockwell.com because I wrote it down for him when he asked how I had found out about his restaurant. I suspect he will stop in and read these comments, and the meal I had deserves effusive praise. But even more, I wish we can gather a group really soon for a much-less-than-$20 Tuesday to welcome him to the dining scene.

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Sayeer is now aware of donrockwell.com because I wrote it down for him when he asked how I had found out about his restaurant. I suspect he will stop in and read these comments, and the meal I had deserves effusive praise.

He has definitely read this site. My wife and I stopped in for an early meal today, and he came by our table and asked how we knew of his restaurant. When we said we read about it on this site he asked why we weren’t having the Special Soup, since he knew it had been praised here.

We had the egg rolls, Chicken Masala Chow Mein, Curry Chicken and Mango Ice Cream. Everything was good, but we both thought the masala noodles were excellent. The setting is quite nice, and the service was very good. We recommend it.

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And a good time was had by all...!

Today, we convened a Rockwellian lunch gathering consisting of Kibbee Nayee, thistle and her son and daughter, John Williams G, noahcofc and one other who snuck herself out of Maryland to join us. Saer was as gracious as ever, and was very appreciative of our business and of the DR community for acknowledging his restaurant.

I thought the food was quite good, and John and I had both eaten here before. A few pictures will follow -- the table enjoyed two large bowls of soup, one of which was the delicious and mildly spicy Desii Wok Special, and the other was a milder but equally heart soup called 19B, apparently because its real name was hard to pronounce, so the chef in Calcutta started referring to it by its menu position, #19B. We generally preferred the Desii Wok Special.

Next came the egg fried rice and the sizzling Chicken Manchurian, and judging from the table comments, all was well with both dishes. I had tried both of them before, so I can attest for the consistent quality and flavor. I look forward to trying some of the rest of the menu as this place matures. I find the heat in the dishes to be very pleasant, just enough to feel and not overpower the fresh ingredients. There were thumbs up all around the table.

Saer was also telling us about a very special mango in Pakistan, and that he is trying to import its pulp so he can have his favorite dairy up in Maryland make a unique mango ice cream for his dessert menu. That alone is going to be a good reason to return.

It turns out Saer owns another restuarant up in Point of Rocks, MD, called Aroma Cafe. He said it has the best Steak 'n Cheese anywhere around, and we have appointed one of our tablemates to provide a reconaissance report in the near future.

This was an excellent lunchtime event with good food and wonderful Rockwellians. I look forward to the next one!

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Met up with friends here tonight and had a wonderful meal. Started off with the Special Soup, even though it was such a warm night out, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Slightly sweet cream of tomato base with a fair amount of heat. We also tried the chicken drumsticks, which are not drumsticks at all but gently spiced golf-ball sized spheres of chicken meat that are deep fried and then served with ketchup that you doctor up with the chili paste at the table. These were tasty but not addictive. We also got the sizzling shrimp with garlic sauce, a good solid dish; manchurian chicken, which was also a sizzling dish in a slightly sweet and spicy sauce a little similar to a Gen. Tsao's type sauce and the favorite of two of us at the table; and we got the chicken chow mein masala, which was my favorite dish, tender noodles stir fried with chicken and green peppers and a few diced veggies and dusted with a garam masala spice blend, positively addictive! And the mango ice cream for dessert -- which comes from the Point Of Rocks creamery, so if you're really jonesing for some of that ice cream but don't want to drive that far, you can get it here. And get an order of the noodles while you're there, you'll be glad you did. Oh, and we upgraded to the egg fried rice from the plain. So all that food for $67 before tip. Excellent value.

The owner and the service was all very friendly and helpful. He came over and told us about the sourcing of his food and the preparations, reliance on food that's not processed but really prepped and cooked on premises. Oh, they've got almost all the artwork up on the walls, only 2-3 paintings left to hang. Modern, abstract canvases, about 4' square, and well displayed on the deep warm red walls. It's a handsome restaurant and deserves a good following. It was very quiet in there tonight, although I know that Mondays are slow for restaurants generally, and more so when the weekend has had a holiday in it, but there were only about 4 tables in there tonight and this food should be getting more attention.

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The owner and the service was all very friendly and helpful. He came over and told us about the sourcing of his food and the preparations, reliance on food that's not processed but really prepped and cooked on premises. Oh, they've got almost all the artwork up on the walls, only 2-3 paintings left to hang. Modern, abstract canvases, about 4' square, and well displayed on the deep warm red walls. It's a handsome restaurant and deserves a good following. It was very quiet in there tonight, although I know that Mondays are slow for restaurants generally, and more so when the weekend has had a holiday in it, but there were only about 4 tables in there tonight and this food should be getting more attention.

I was there on a Friday night a couple of weeks ago and the number of tables occupied was the same. This place is certainly roomy and I hope that they succeed, but they are most likely need more customers. As to the food the Curry Chicken was good, with a slight bit of heat. The Beef Chilli Dry was merely OK and does not have any heat nor is it dry despite the name. The seasonings in the sauce are garlic and ginger.

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