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Happy Family and Nirvana

Suvro | May 29, 200502:10 AM

Had a vegetarian guest from India - so went to Happy Family on recommendations from Chowhound. So so.

The place looked forlorn on a Friday evening, even though there were several tables with diners. Perhaps it was the waitstaff and their piles of beans on one of the front tables that threw us off, or perhaps it was the smell in the place. It had an air of decrepitude. Our guest said he always visits this place on trips to Pasadena, so we felt OK.

We had meant to order the fresh lilly flower soup, and thought we had, but it did not come. The waitress said she did not hear us order it. Now in hindsight, I remember ordering it through a different waitress. I guess it never made it to the kitchen. Strike 1

Mapo tofu - this was probably the best dish, but quite weak in spiciness and flavor compared to other Sichuan restaurants. It was downhill from here.

Eggplant in spicy sauce - this was OK, but really NOTHING compared to the version at Yujean Kangs.

We ordered a mock chicken dish with peanuts - barely edible.

Once and never again.

Nirvana, our favorite little hideaway Indian restaurant in Arcadia (Huntington Drive, near 210) for dinner tonight - excellent as always - Chicken 65, the addictive appetizer, Masala dosa, Madras special (masala dosa, medu vada, idli, all with the red spicy tomato chutney, the white coconut chutney - much better than the versions at Udupi, Woodlands, or Parus - and sambar, and gulab jamun) and Mysore Masala dosa (crepe smothered with a hot paste of molaga powder and ghee) - all in the $7 range. I don't know why anyone would go to India Sweets and Spices. Well, I guess I know - the "McDonald effect".

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