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BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT Minneapolis 2001 - Sri Lanka

Readers' Choice: Taste of India

Would you expect one restaurant to master Yankee pot roast, crawfish étouffée, San Francisco cioppino, and everything in between? Of course not--sheer foolishness. Yet hereabouts, that's exactly what we've been getting from our Indian restaurants, as they attempt to deliver cuisine from tropical fishing villages, high mountain herding cultures, and the agricultural plains. No wonder so many people think all Indian food tastes the same; all lackluster Indian food does. So all hail Sri Lanka, which is making cooked-to-order food with fresh ingredients, and basically doing for local Indian food what Gardens of Salonica did for local Greek. Some of the standouts include the appetizer-to-share of chutney scallops ($10), a good pound of scallops sizzled with onions and chutney, served hot and tender in the heart of a bowl made of whole red-cabbage leaves. Add rice, or the house roti--here an oil-fried flatbread--and you've got an unforgettable entrée. Or go for rich lamb curry, or a spendy ($22) special like split whole lobster with squid in a light coconut curry. For those of you arguing that Sri Lanka is an island off the southeastern tip of India, and not India, you're probably the same people arguing that Florida is off the southeastern tip of the United States, and not the United States, and to you we say: Tell it to the Supreme Court.

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