Out in Spokane Valley, in a modest pitched-roof building off of East Sprague Avenue, sits the Top of India. The family-owned Indian restaurant has served samosas, masala, paneer, basmati rice and other delicacies from the sub-continent since 2004, but some returning customers may no longer recognize the restaurant. The scent of curry, cardamom and other spices waft through the parking lot as always, but Top of India, now sporting its rebranded “TOI” logo, recently completed a yearlong renovation.
Stepping into the restaurant doesn’t transport a diner to India, but neither does it bring patrons into Spokane of yesteryear like it once did. Gone are the deep-green leather chairs, yellow walls and the sense that you are sitting in someone’s dimly lit dining room. Black tables have been replaced with bright white surfaces. The slate gray ceiling and walls, with salmon accents, provide a contemporary urban atmosphere of clean lines and personal space. The Purna family is pleased with the work of Hissong+Hurtado Design Group, the company also responsible for the interiors of both Savory and Wasabi Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar.
The Purna’s have not changed the restaurant’s six-page menu, but the renovation has reinvigorated the fare’s presentation. Jas Purna points out trays of southern Indian paneer and yellow lentils that are placed alongside northern Indian tandoori chicken at the lunch buffet, explaining that, “India is a big country with many different regional dishes. That’s why the menu is so many pages.”
Bright vegetable biryani ($10.95) pops golden against the white plates, white tables and white chairs. Chicken tikka masala ($12.95), with its reddish-orange tones, adds to the color palate. The lamb curry ($13.95), spiked with succulent New Zealand lamb, sits atop white basmati rice while fluffy, chewy, freshly baked naan captures curry gravy and transforms a visual experience into a purely satisfying culinary one.
Newcomers to Indian cuisine will find TOI’s spices flavorful yet mild. The lunch buffet ($10.00) with eight entrees and 20 additional sides and condiments, including house-made yogurt and sweets, is a good way to sample a range of tastes.
Top of India • 11114 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane Valley • Open Mon-Sat 11 am-2:30 pm; 4:30-9 pm; Sun Noon-3 pm; 4:30-9 pm • 927-0500 • thetopofindia.com