As much as I wish I could just use a simple "Hot or Not?" rating system, I of course had to find a way to complicate things. It's in my nature. So is incessant questioning and a propensity to overplan. Luckily, my rating system doesn't entail getting into these latter two areas.
On a scale of 1-10 Peppers, 1 is the worst and 10 is the best.
The restaurants are also grouped into more general categories:
> 1-2 Peppers = Bland (not worth it.)
> 3-4 Peppers = Mild (probably still not worth it.)
> 5-6 Peppers = Medium (worth visiting, but you won't be blown away.)
> 7-8 Peppers = Spicy (definitely worth visiting.)
> 9-10 Peppers = Extra Spicy (you should go. maybe right now.)
The heat level -- bland to extra spicy -- doesn't reflect how literally spicy the restaurant's food is. I just wanted a way to incorporate those adorable chili peppers that adorn so many Indian restaurants' menus. So it's like an Indian Hot or Not, just a bit more thought out. (Oops. There's that planning problem.)
So, since it doesn't literally reflect the spice level, what am I basing the rating on? Well, the primary component of course is how good the food is. Like Jerry and other Seinfeld characters realized when interacting with Soup Nazi, when the food is a good, a lot of other factors can be overlooked. (Thankfully, I've yet to be told "No saag for you" at an Indian establishment.) However, in most cases, I'm taking quite a few other factors into account, including customer service, decor, wait time, parking situation (so important in California), and cleanliness. Any restaurant in the "Extra Spicy" category gets high marks all around. I'll always try to explain my basis for the rating in "The Details" part of the review.
Other labels you'll see on here include:
Price: $ = most entrees under $10; $$ = most entrees between $10-$20; $$$ = most entrees over $20
Type of Cuisine: Traditional = mostly stays true to classic preparations; Modern = puts its own spin on things; Fusion = purposely mixes Indian food with another cuisine
Veg or Non-Veg: I chose these terms because they're the ones most frequently used by Indians to describe whether a restaurant is strictly vegetarian or not.
Other Features: I like to mention if a buffet is available (great for first-timers) and/or if the restaurant has a banquet facility (something personally helpful to me during the whole wedding planning process).