Take on Takeout: Akash India
Sometimes on a Friday night after a long work week, nothing beats takeout. Indian food has become increasingly popular in recent years, and many Indian restaurants have popped up all over Cincinnati (and many other cities) with varying degrees of success. The only choice Downtown choice is Akash India (www.akashindia.net). Luckily for us, it’s a great one. My wife and I will average takeout from Akash about once every two weeks. Akash prepares its meals with a Northern Indian style, which typically means it has a lot of non-vegetarian dishes (although they still have plenty of vegetarian options) that include chicken, lamb, and fish. It also uses more cream and yogurt-based recipes, whereas Southern uses more coconut in their foods and have a higher concentration on vegetarian dishes.
On this past Friday evening, we picked up our order of Chicken Rogan Josh (chicken in a tomato sauce with yogurt) and Chicken Tikka (tandoori prepped chicken pieces marinated with yogurt and spices cooked in a clay oven).
I like to put a mixture of both in a plate together, as the flavors are wonderful together. The chicken is all white meat and always lean and well prepared. The sauces are nicely spiced, but not overly so (unless you ask for it!). I’ve eaten at many Indian restaurants in Cincinnati, and even in Chicago, in London, and outside San Francisco. This one may be my favorite. Food-wise, to me, it stands toe to toe with any other I’ve been to. No matter what we’ve gotten – chicken or lamb, biryani (rice-based dish) or Saag (spinach and cream base) or Makhani (tomatoes, butter, cream sauce – my wife’s favorite) – everything has been consistently very good to excellent. Add in the fact that their nan (tandoori-cooked bread) is amazing, and there’s no reason to not love this place. I’ve seen some other reviews where people don’t like the owner and think he is gruff. That is somewhat true, but it has never affected our enjoyment of the place, whether eating out or dining in. It’s kind of funny, actually, and adds to the experience. At the same time, he can be very friendly to his regulars and he’s even stood outside at the curb to give my sister’s order to her so she didn’t have to come in. Plus, his daughter typically is the server and she does a good job. When my wife and I were at Mantra on the Hill (http://wp.me/p3jVIR-o), she just kept saying she wished we were at Akash. I hated to admit it since we were paying quite a bit more for inferior food, but she was right. Bottom line: if you like Indian food or haven’t had it yet but want to try it, go to Akash. Fast, wonderful takeout, you really can’t beat this place.
***Update on 6/23/2013. I’ve also now reviewed Dusmesh (http://wp.me/p3jVIR-4z), the highest rated Indian restaurant in Cincinnati per Urban Spoon. I personally favor Akash over Dusmesh by quite a bit. Still the #1 Indian restaurant I’ve been to. As an aside, my wife called one evening at about 9:30 and placed an order. She went at 9:45 to pick it up. The place was dark, and the workers, including the owner, were sitting at the bar. She asked them if they were closed, and they said yes but it was OK. She then asked when they closed, and they said 9:15 but to not worry, they saw her number on the caller ID and were happy to answer it. Now THAT is service. A+ to this place.