Around the Rock: Fantastic China is Fantastic and Star of India Shines Bright

My weekly views…

Guess what? My kids better get used to eating more Indian food from here on out, because daddy needs himself some samosas at least once a month. And what better place to get them than at Star of India? Their version, albeit greasy, yet undeniably good, is stuffed with seasoned potatoes and green peas ($3.25 for order of 2). Several other hits from our recent dinner included the naan ($2.25), chicken tikka masala ($13.95), saag paneer ($9.95) and tomato rice. The chicken in the tikka masala was a tad dry, but the slight imperfection was certainly overshadowed by the dish’s other elements. Do not hesitate to order the tomato rice. Mixing it with the masala and saag paneer creates a comfort food dish that’s tough to beat. In short, Star of India is a gem, highlighted by wonderful food, served in a cozy environment by owner Sami Lal and his highly attentive staff.

Go figure, Fantastic China doesn’t get a ton of pub, which is weird, because they are located right smack dab in the Heights. Heck, I even had a two-year hiatus from dining at the restaurant. Glad I finally made it back, especially after tasting the sautéed mushroom in oyster sauce. The lunch plate, which included a side of rice, fried spring roll, and cup of wonton soup, cost only $5.75. The clean, almost zen-like atmosphere, coupled with excellent service and quality food, made for a fantastic lunch (get it? … fantastic).

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While I consider the heirloom tomato pizza at ZAZA’s to be one of the better pies in town, I do wish they could do something about those big basil leaves. Visually appealing? Yes. But I’d rather they do a simple chop and spread the basil wealth over the entire pizza.

And the news…

Kemuri, the Japanese restaurant located in the old Ferneau and Rocket 21 space at 2601 Kavanaugh Blvd., plans to open on Thursday, August 21st.

Eggshells Kitchen Co. is hosting another cooking class on September 16th, featuring the wonderfully talented chef Ken Dempsey of E’s Bistro. Class starts at 6 p.m. To purchase ticket(s), click here.

The Arkansas Chef’s Culinary Classic, an absolutely fantastic event, is also on September 16th (6:30 p.m.) at the Statehouse Convention Center, Hall IV. From event organizers: “The Arkansas Hospitality Association hosts an annual culinary competition to showcase Arkansas’s Chefs. Chefs may compete in four categories: Soup/Salad, Dessert, Entrée, or Appetizer. Each chef provides tastings for each entry guests to try. Tickets are $45/person. Tables can be purchased. Awards ceremony, wine and beer tasting, silent auction, and after party, are included in that price. For questions, contact Holly Heer at holly@arhospitality.org or 501-376-2323. To register and for more information, go to http://www.arhospitality.org/events/culinary-classicsilent-auction/.”

The Tie Dyed Trail Grub and Race Catering event will be held at Gearhead Outfitters (Park Plaza Mall, Suite 1034) on Tuesday, August 19th (6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.). The company will be trying out their race catering menu before their business officially opens. This event is open to the public and will feature free wraps and snacks with several vegan options. Tie Dyed Trail Grub is a Little Rock-based business that will be providing whole, healthy food options to runners and other athletes either on an individual basis or through race catering.

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Around the Rock: Fantastic China is Fantastic and Star of India Shines Bright