Scenes from a Sai Ram love affair -nc -mts -cd

Jamie Gajewski

I began seeing Palak Paneer at Sai Ram a little over a year ago. It was love at first bite, really. He was always so warm as I mopped him up with fresh nan.
Things were going really well. Each week I would escape the Lawrence campus and enter Sai Ram’s kaleidoscopic environment. However, when summer break came along we were forced to break it off because I was leaving for a four-month stint in Europe.
After moping around through Rome and Vienna, I decided that I needed to move on with my life. I tried others like him in the Parisian Latin Quarter and near La Alhambra in Spain, but they just were not the same. I would leave the Indian restaurants in tears, just another American making a scene.
Since returning from the land of the Euro I have begun seeing Palak weekly at Sai Ram. Sometimes we make a lunch date during the buffet or keep the flame alive with a romantic dinner under glossy tapestries and other adornments.
Palak has already met my parents and all my friends love him, but sometimes he just leaves the plate so soon that we cannot even share mango ice cream together. I hope that Palak knows how much he means to me and that I would never cheat on him with Chicken Masala or any other dish at the site of our first date, Sai Ram.
The name Sai Ram comes from an Indian god who is featured on the restaurant’s menu. Ramakrishna, the owner of Sai Ram, came to California from India. After living in the Golden State, he moved to Detroit, a city once dubbed the “Murder Capital of the World.”
Finally, Ramakrishna and his family made it to Appleton, where they have lived for the past ten years. Sai Ram has been around for nine of those years.
Sai Ram’s menu consists of a variety of dishes from different regions in India. Indians tend to eat mostly vegetarian dishes, although meat is often eaten once or twice a week. Nan, a type of Indian flatbread served with all entrees at Sai Ram, is cooked in a special tandoor oven. When nan is made at home, it takes a little over an hour to make.
According to Ramakrishna, Indian meal times are similar to typical American meal times. A light breakfast is served around 8 a.m., followed by a heavy lunch anywhere between noon and 2 p.m. Dinner is also on the heavy side and is served around 8 p.m. The busiest times at Sai Ram occur during the lunch buffet, as well as weekend dinner hours.
The majority of Sai Ram’s decor came all the way from India. Although Ramakrishna would like to return to India frequently, he is more often stuck in the city made famous by an escape artist. Likewise, there are not too many Indian customers at Sai Ram, since Appleton’s Indian population hovers around five percent.
If you’re looking to test out Sai Ram on your own, start by ordering an appetizer such as pakoras or samosa. For a beverage, I recommend a mango lassi, which is a type of mango and yogurt smoothie.
Otherwise, stick with an Indian beer or glass of wine. Beware: You will be asked for your ID, possibly more than once in the span of one minute.
While vegetarian entrees cost between 9-11 dollars, meat entrees made with lamb, beef, chicken or seafood cost a few dollars more. Entrees are even personalized to your preferred level of spice.
If you’ve been fasting all day in preparation of an excellent, non-Downer meal, why not upgrade to a Thali Dinner? For only 3 dollars more, your meal will include lentil soup, papadam vegetable curry, dal, raita, rice, nan and the dessert of the day.
Sai Ram is located at 235 W. Northland Ave. Indian lovers can snuggle up during lunch hours 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, or until 2:30 on the weekends. For night lovebirds, head to Sai Ram between 4:30 p.m. and 9pm Sunday-Thursday, or until 9:30 Friday and Saturday.
If you’re searching for a rich and colorful meal, check out the recipient of the “Best Indian Restaurant in the Fox Valley Award” for the third year running!