BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT Miami 2004 - Renaisa
Readers' Choice: Raja's
Indian restaurants of even the standard sort are hard to come by in these parts. Additionally, for whatever reason, they tend to be located in shopping malls. Renaisa is housed in a picturesque wooden structure on the Little River, which makes for an engaging atmosphere. Many of the menu items are specialties from Bangladesh, which makes for an engaging dining experience. Grab a private booth or table on the outdoor, riverside deck, open one of the cold beers you've brought with you (Renaisa has no liquor license but allows you to bring your own). As you peruse the menu, enjoy complimentary crisp-fried lentil pappadums with three relishes -- bittersweet tamarind, tangy red onion, and sinus-clearing cilantro. All the usual curries are available, but so are some wonderfully different alternatives such as the starter mass bora, half-a-dozen slightly mouth-tingling fried patties of spiced ground fish, sprinkled with cilantro plus onion and green pepper chunks. The traditional chicken roast features juicy chicken pieces in a sinfully rich cream/yogurt gravy. For dessert try scrumptious rosmalai -- sweetened, fried cheese balls in heavy cream sauce. And if you're curious about some specialty that's not on the menu -- like jhal muri, a wildly popular street snack in Bangladesh and the adjoining Indian state of Bengal (but near impossible to find in the U.S.) -- just call ahead and the friendly proprietors will accommodate.