- Matthew Schniper
- Lamb Kali Mirch presents beautifully spiced, tender meat.
Newly opened, it marks owner Ganesh “Eddie” Adhikari’s fifth Colorado location inside as many years — Broomfield, Littleton, Castle Rock and Lincoln Street, Denver — and the Nepali native opened Mehak India’s Aroma in Cherry Creek last year as an upscale arm. And though Zaika does feel a bit like a chain with its familiar corporate orange/green colors, I’m not complaining. The service is excellent, and fast — our first appetizer arrives before we’ve even finished talking with our server, as he’s punched it in on a mobile POS system. The allergy-friendly menu is well-conceived, too. Example: Whereas many places will feature pages of dish styles, repeating all the protein options under each, Zaika’s neatly arranged a section where you choose the bulk first (tofu, vegetables, seafood, etc.) then pick a preparation (korma, curry, saag, etc.). Tandoori and biryani are broken into their own categories, as are “Zaika special offerings” like our baingan bharta and a khatta bhindi, okra mixed with bell peppers, onions and what’s listed as “mango powder” but isn’t overtly fruity or sweet, and clearly holds a whole list of spices. Both pop with a side order of achar, the highly potent, sour, spicy pickle condiment.
Location Details Zaika Indian Cuisine
We’d also work on a better execution for the garlic-green chile Lasooni Shrimp, whose mushiness detracts from the otherwise fine curry flavor, including mango pulp garnish. Hash brown-like onion pakora are oily by nature as chickpea-flour-battered onions, and they host a nice crunch, delicious dipped in bright mint chutney and tamarind sauce. Lamb Kali Mirch, our final appetizer, arrives on an excessively oily plate but bears lovely flavor, the meat’s gaminess totally tamed by notes of garam masala, curry leaf, chiles and whole peppercorns.
Having learned our heat lesson on visit one, on visit two we dial a chicken vindaloo down to three, where it still smolders, to our delight, as tangy as listed from its vinegary sauce. But this time we chase it with homemade mango kulfi, a denser Indian-style ice cream. Satisfied, we can see how Zaika, which means “flavor,” has managed to spawn quickly, its fares familiar but well enough made and priced, with some personalizing touches.