The night before Turkey Day, I found myself in College Park with about 15 minutes to spare before a soccer game ...and hungry. I had heard about several of the Indian places in Langley Park, that the service was quick, and had recommendations from this site (thank you, Pleen and Malcolm) and from a viewer at washingtonpost.com and settled in at Woodlands for a quick hit. The post suggested the paper dhosa, and with little time to look at the menu, I chose an old standby for me, mutter paneer. (cheese and peas in curry sauce). Now, I've been to Indian restaurants, of course, but not often. A carryout near where I live closed down, and they made a mutter paneer that was sent from heaven, and I've been chasing after that same taste ever since.
Well, Woodlands was spectacular. Paper dhosa was incredible, a real sight to behold, like a gigantic ice-cream cone. The mutter paneer was better than my previous favorite, by a mile, with all kinds of flavors bursting in my mouth.
I felt so naive, that maybe there are a million places like this and I just never noticed, but I was really floored by it all. A small bowl of a liquidy yogurt sauce had some interesting hot floaties in it, and, again, bursted with flavor. I also appreciated the powerful lemon rind (was it chutney?)that came along with it, and I ordered a mango lassi that was thicker and more delicious than I've had before. I developed a huge craving to repeat this awesome meal, and I couldn't wait to go back. My head was spinning.
So this weekend, before another game, I stopped by in the afternoon with not much time to spare.
I knew there would be a buffet, which of course would be fast, but I usually avoid buffets in favor of ordering from the regular menu. That was not an option.
Plenty of very exotic dishes that I would not order on my own, and in many cases with good reason. And no paneer, of any kind, to be found. But an enormous array of wonderful litte tastes, almost all the dishes worth at least two bites, and we stuffed ourselves silly and quickly for $9. A fabulous deal.
I know there is a Woodlands in Fairfax, as well as Udupi Palace in Langley Park and, I believe, Fairfax as well. A vegetarian widower, whose wife was Indian, was there, and he said he has a hard time deciding between Woodlands and Udupi Palace. Sounds like an embarrassment of riches!