Friday, October 22, 2010

Restaurant: Traditions, Tustin

10 out of 10 Peppers = Extra Spicy
A perfect 10, Traditions has delicious food, an expansive buffet, and top-notch customer service -- all served in an elegant, Indian-inspired atmosphere.

The Details: I was debating, mostly with myself as Nick's learned to tune these things out, on what constitutes a 10 Pepper restaurant. Obviously, I want to reserve this designation for only the best-of-the-best. I've given out an 8 and a 9 on saagAHH, but I didn't have any question about giving them a 10 because I could pinpoint something that could be improved. What if, I asked, a restaurant has outstanding food, a lovely decor, and in every other aspect from the parking lot to the customer service, there's not a single flaw that my discerning eye can spot -- is that a 10 Pepper restaurant?

Nick looked at me like: What else do you want? For a genie to come out of the kitchen after your meal and grant you three wishes

Well, first of all, um, yes. But second of all, I'm slowly losing hope that that's ever going to happen, so I think the flawless everything else thing will certainly be enough.

And I'm happy to award Traditions in Tustin with the first 10 Pepper rating.

The restaurant's tagline is "an Indian food experience" (a tagline which I think says it all) and it has an expansive lunch buffet. It's $10.99 on Saturday and Sunday and includes champagne.

I counted more than 20 dishes on the buffet tables. It was a great mix of veg and non-veg dishes, including white and fried rice, vegetable jalfrezzi, tandoori chicken (which can be dry at many restaurants, but was done perfectly here), saag, goat curry, and what Nick dubbed "fancy" dhal (a lentil-based side dish that's typically an accompaniment to rice). The goat curry is especially impressive, as it's not typically found on buffet lines, so it's a great opportunity for you to find out if you like goat meat or not. (I love it; Nick hates it. Everyone else in Nick's family loves it -- so I think I'll fit in just fine.)
The two dishes that were on the spicy side were the samosas (at 5 o'clock in this pic) and the saag (at 7 o'clock). Everything else was mild.

The restaurant's tomato soup was amazing. Probably the best I've ever tasted.

Free naan was brought to the table. It was more crispy than is typical, but that was a plus for me. Also, the server immediately noticed when we ran out and swiftly brought us more.

Yes, I ate two desserts, and, yes, they were both worth it. To the left is kheer and to the right is mango custard with apples.

To be fair, prices on the sit-down menu are above what you'd pay at many other mid-range restaurants. Veg entrees are about $10.95 chicken about $11.95, lamb about $12.95, and seafood about $14.95. (All include rice.) And Nick says he'd give Traditions between an 8 and a 9. For him, the food didn't quite merit a 10. Though he said he'd definitely highly recommend it to other diners.

The decor is lovely, with peacock feathers in vases on each table and Indian artwork and fabric designs on the walls. Three of the walls are brick, giving the space a unique look. Also, the arched-back chairs add an elegant feel. To top off the motif, our server brought us a peacock feather pen with which to sign the credit card receipt.

By the way, there's also a huge parking lot. Score!

If you've been to Traditions, do you think it deserved the 10 Pepper rating? What restaurants in your area are worthy of this distinction?

Traditions, 14131 Red Hill Ave., Tustin 92780. (714) 508-5959.


  1. Ok, your writing may have convinced me that it was indeed a 10. I'd probably still lean towards a 9, but you justify a 10 nicely :). And I totally forgot about the Genie quote; pure genius me!!!!


  2. I'm now craving for this since you mentioned as expansive buffet :) I've also never tried goat curry before :)

  3. Oh. I just noticed. No address? :)

  4. Well, Nick, we can always visit Traditions again -- just to make sure :) Carren: This is definitely a good place to try. And thanks for pointing out the address slip -- I just fixed it. I definitely want people to be able to find this place!

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