Joe asked what we were going to do for dinner. I said that I was going to cook Ethiopian, but I had realized that I didn't have enough onions. (Ethiopian dishes use a lot of onions — at least the ones I cook.) It was a beautiful Spring night, so we went out and bought some onions, and because it was a beautiful Spring night we kept driving through town until we found ourselves going up Washington. I pointed at Mahek and asked "Feel like Indian?"
"I was just thinking the same thing."
Mahek occupies the old Shehan Shah spot, and we had both been meaning to get here since the conversion and had high hopes for good food. And we were not disappointed. We only tried three dishes so this is hardly a full review, but we were happy with what we had and want to share.
We started with an order of Gobi Manchurian, sort of the iconic Indian-Chinese dish. Battered califlower is fried and coated a in a spicy sweet soy-based sauce. Compared to versions I've had elsewhere, Mahek's version had a thicker batter, a "wetter" sauce, and the sweet seemed to be missing. But it was spicy. This was my least favorite dish of the night, in large part because I prefer a drier dish with the sweetness I've had with other versions. (Joe liked it, though.)
Mahek's menu warns that their "hot" really is "hot", and they aren't bluffing. We ordered the Gobi Manchurian as "medium", and it was as spicy if not spicier than the average "hot" is at most restaurants in Ann Arbor. We haven't tried the actual "hot" yet.
For our mains, we ordered Chole Batura and a Chicken Tikka and naan.
I first fell in love with Chole Batura at the now-gone Mysore Woodlands, so when I saw it on the menu at Mahek I knew immediately what I wanted. Chole is a spicy Punjabi chickpea dish (aka Chana Masala), and batura is a soft deep-fried bread. Mahek serves theirs with a raita, which is delicious on the chole, and a mixed achar (salty-sour pickled condiment). By the way, the chiles in Mahek's achar are not as hot as they look, so if you can eat medium-hot spicy food then you can eat the chiles in the achar. I was very happy with this dish, which is a good thing because as you can see, it's a sizable portion, which supplied me with lunch for the next day.
Chicken Tikka (Tandoori-style chicken breast) is not something we normally order, though I think we'd order it more often if it was always as tasty as the dish we had at Mahek. The chicken was surprisingly tender and moist, and — bonus for those of you who don't like chicken on the bone! — it was boneless.
The verdict: definitely worth going to again and experimenting with the menu. Mahek also has a lunch buffet. If any readers out there have tried their buffet, we would love to hear about your experiences.
212 E. Washington
Ann Arbor, MI
Open 7 days, with lunch buffet available everyday