Like a hovering bee, the French word raison d’etre kept buzzing in our mind during a meal at Aangan Indian restaurant in Freehold, New Jersey.
Just in case you are curious, the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition, P.1028) defines raison d’etre as ‘reason or justification for existence.’
The smart ones amongst you have already figured out which way we are heading, eh?
Yes, folks, you guessed right – Aangan is a restaurant with little or no raison d’etre.
Poof. If Aangan were to disappear like that from the face of the earth today it’d be no loss to New Jersey.
We dare say it’d be a divine blessing and all of us would be better off.
Except the bunch of misfits in Aangan’s kitchen and dining room, who would be out on the Freehold streets as they ought to be for the high crime of their association with this insulting impostor of an Indian restaurant.
That a slick web site and a smooth-talking marketing kid do not translate into a fine Indian dining experience is amply proven by our meal the other day at Aangan restaurant in Freehold.
Some months ago, in the days when the afternoon sun blazed less fiercely we received an e-mail and after we ignored it, then came a call from a glib-talking kid from Aangan inviting us over for a meal and review of the Freehold (NJ) Indian restaurant.
Given our insatiable lust for Indian food and drooling at the great possibilities ahead, we readily consented.
Why not? Remember, we’re the people who like to tell the world we live to eat curry and not the other way around.
But a million other commitments intruded and it took us several months before we could make that trip north to Aangan.
Alas, it was one culinary road trip that quickly went south.
Except in talking a good talk, these Aangan bozos are dilettantes completely unschooled in delivering both fine Indian food or gracious service.
Given that the restaurant has two name boards outside (Ginger Thai Cuisine and Aangan Indian Cuisine) with a single entrance, we were understandably confused and uncertain of our steps as we gingerly made our way inside.
A question to a desi waiter (he with a ring on his left ear lobe and a sulk on his face) about the entrance to Aangan brought forth the brusque reply – you can sit anywhere.
That unwelcome rude brushoff set the overall tone for our dissatisfying meal at Aangan.
You know, like the chronicle of a disaster foretold.
Idli was so hard and the edges so dry that we have little doubt that Aangan’s Idlis routinely make their way to New Jersey construction sites when the contractors run out of small stone pieces to make concrete.
If New Jersey had strong laws against mislabeling, Aangan’s management would have been arrested for defrauding customers with their make-believe Sambar and Chutney.
Aangan’s so-called Sambar and Chutney had as much connection to the real thing as our face has to Aishwarya Rai’s.
Kadhi Pakora was a Turmeric nightmare that rightly ought to be called Turmeric Pakora. You see, some clueless, blithering idiot in Aangan’s kitchen had not the slightest idea of what he was doing and ran amok with the Turmeric.
An unparalleled assault on the tastebuds, the Turmeric Pakora oops Kadhi Pakora was so horrible that memories of it send us into a paroxysm of rage even now.
The wannabe Indian restaurant’s kitchen fired one salvo after another in its relentless attack on our palate.
Paneer Makhani was an ugly orange sour mess.
Bhindi Masala was way too oily.
Facing such heavy artillery, we ducked and scurried for safe ground until we found some cover in the Dal Amritsari (black lentils).
Aangan – Little Stalins
Never let it be said that the bozos in Aangan’s kitchen are discriminatory.
These are equal opportunity offenders. Be you vegetarian or be you non-vegetarian, the little Stalins in Aangan’s kitchen show little compassion. Alas, theirs is a soul inured to pleas for mercy.
If any spices went into the Kadai Chicken, it’s merely in the dodo chef’s fantasies.
As for the Tandoori Chicken, tis’ the same flavorless abomination served daily in a hundred bad Indian restaurants in the U.S. to curses from a thousand diners.
Mercifully, as the carnivore in us had almost given up in despair we espied the Chicken Saag. Flavorful and spicy, it seemed like a miracle to us.
What a Mishap
The sadistic swines of Aangan left no stone unturned to turn our meal into an ugly pileup we’d remember long after its ingestion and digestion.
Take desserts, for example.
Chilled Rasmalai was another clear instance of mislabeling. In a stunning act of cruelty, this popular Indian dessert landed on our table at room temperature in an insipid white watery fluid that had a vague resemblance to milk. Plain awful.
Worse, it came in a plate. Not in a cup as it must and as it does in every other Indian restaurant we’ve had this sweet delicacy.
We told ourselves resignedly, whaddya expect from these hopeless idiots. Mango Mousse was tasteless, yet another disappointment in a growing list.
So when the Pistachio Kulfi turned out alright, we almost leapt on the table in joy.
These Aangan morons couldn’t even get a simple Salt Lassi straight.
Schmuck, we asked for Salt Lassi not the Plain Lassi that you delivered in a glass filled with ice cubes.
Careless, hopeless and tasteless – these seem to be the Aangan refrain.
Folks, if you are looking for fine Indian food accompanied by decent service, you are not likely to encounter either given our experience at Aangan.
There were not enough napkins on the table and the waiters pretended as if there were no diners at our table.
We saw the wait-staff spraying that Lysol-like chemical solution to clean the adjacent table and then placing the silverware directly on the table. Why the f*** can’t you keep the silverware on the napkins.
Then, there was an Aangan clown loudly yakking away ad infinitum about a catering contract at an adjacent table. This sales fella drove us nuts with his incessant babble about chaat station, Mexican station, blah blah blah.
The ladies toilet was dirty and the door could not be closed. Pitiful.
All in all, our visit to Aangan was less of a meal and more of a punishing ordeal.
Guys, unless you possess a strong masochistic desire to experience the sting of inedible food and intolerable service and unless you love being ripped off by impostors, give this crappy Indian restaurant Aangan the miss.
This joke of an Indian restaurant in Freehold cries out, nay begs, to be shown the middle finger. Do so with mucho gusto.