Food Review: Sangam Indian Restaurant
Food is more than nutrition. Food is the cornerstone of culture, a commonality we all share regardless of belief or attitude. This is one reason why food reporting is valuable, because food is powerful! Not only in how it connects us to our communities and creates common ground where we can devour not only delicious meals; but in our conversations: building bridges, expressing ideas, sharing time with our family and friends. When good food comes to Denton, we want to highlight it, celebrate it, and inform the community accurately and with fairness. Food reporting is mostly subjective, and many will either agree or disagree with a food critic’s opinions; but that is the point: to start a conversation, to explore new experiences, and to build dialogue with our neighbors. Bon Appetit, Denton!
Sangam’s is nestled discreetly into a strip market, located next to the Roy’s Wash-N-Dry, this is the kind of restaurant that goes unnoticed and blends into the busy background of commutes down University. The initial impression is that not much is there, an unassuming exterior and a simple sign, and upon entering and being seated, you might draw the same conclusion. The buffet was warm and full of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, a sweet aroma lingering in the air as the sound of Bollywood music rings into your ears. The carpeting is a deep maroon with dark, faux cherry wood tables, pulling from their University neighbors or using some color psychology to prime our appetites. The atmosphere is busy, humming with activity between a waiter delivering specialty plates to tables or people venturing to the buffet, but there is a homey-ness and comfort to Sangam’s that is usually only emulated in a Mom and Pop styled restaurant, serving home recipes and plenty of Naan.
Denton has a diverse palette, with many people wanting vegetarian options aside from the pathetic looking side salads offered at most restaurants. Sangam’s menu is nearly half vegetarian, with options like “Dal Tadka”, “Aloo Gobi”, and “Palak Paneer”; their menu offers something substantial and filling. The menu ranges from a selection of appetizers, such as samosas to Tandoori specials, and plenty of meat-eater options, such as chicken, lamb, and goat. Among their drink options are a refreshing mango lassi and tasty chai. Your meal can be complimented by a dessert of Gulab Jamun (sweet milk solids) or Kheer (Rice Pudding). The buffet seems to change, with standard dishes and options and the occasional new dish or side to try, but nothing indicating on their menu what might typically be served.
The service is casual, but attentive. In the true Mom and Pop spirit, the staff seems to be mainly family. Water is placed in a plastic bottle on the table for self service, which is nice for spicy fare in busier places. One misconception of waiting is that a good server constantly checks in on how the meal is, instead of letting the customer savor the dishes and experience. We did not run into this issue, they attended to us swiftly when needed, without being overbearing. Though, if you are with a group, your water will go fast, and you may have to signal someone for more water after a while. If you are not self-serving via the lunch buffet, or venturing out on a busy night, you may have to wait to give your order, but the turnaround time for getting the food was not very long.
For the price you pay, you will leave with a full stomach and maybe even a to-go box. Do not be fooled by the serving size, good Indian food is heavy and utilizes many carbs, regardless of if you sample the buffet or order from the menu, you will leave full. The menu prices vary from around $8 to $14 with the lunch buffet costing $9.99; for college students on a budget or families looking for a good dinner, Sangam’s prices are fair.
Food Quality and Taste
I tried the vegetarian Palak Paneer, a spinachy stew with cheese and Chicken Tikka Masala, a dish familiar to many Americans for its savory and sweet sauce blend with spiced chicken, served with fresh Naan bread and a plain white rice. My first impression of Palak Paneer was that it looked strangely like baby food or a pureed vegetable sauce, with a lumpy salsa-esque texture and a deep emerald green hue. Pouring a helping over the rice, for it to absorb the flavor, chunks of cheese stand out from the paste. The cheese is quite subdued in flavor and provides an interesting balance to the spiciness of the paneer. The spicy taste is not like that of chili peppers and hot sauce, instead it is a mix of spices that taste cool and refreshing leaving a tingle on your tongue.
The Chicken Tikka Masala is creamy, savory, and a touch of sweet. Some restaurants use sauces or creams to cover bland meats; however, the chicken in this dish could stand alone with its own strong flavor and tender texture. Neither dish was complete without the Naan bread, though. Sangam’s Naan is worth ordering an extra side and you will need it if you enjoy using Naan as your utensil. The rice was my least favorite, with no precise flavor. The rice is good for creamy or stew-esque dishes, such as the ones we sampled as to soak up the flavor, but for a dry meat dish, sticking to Naan is a better option.
Overall, the food was satisfying and tasty. I would travel back to sample the buffet. Even if you are not a vegetarian, meat eaters would still be satisfied with vegetarian dishes like Palak Paneer. Though the restaurant is aesthetically non-assuming, it does capture the image of a Mom and Pop styled eatery, with importance given to the quality of food, rather than the decor. Parking could be an issue because of this being a shared shopping center, so I would recommend take out on busier nights.
The co-partners Ajay and Suraj are almost in their fourth month of business. Ajay says that the food is, “mostly Northern Indian with some Pakistani influence”. Denton has hit a shortage of Indian food places due to places like Bawarchi and Rasoi shutting down, but as new contender in the Denton food scene, Sangam’s should have no problem keeping up.
Photos by Garrett Smith
Header image layout designed by Mateo Granados