Best Indian Restaurant

The Indian restaurant that replaced Roderick's in Tustin is a distinct improvement on its creepy, weird predecessor. A standout even in Indian-heavy Tustin, Sam Gupta's eatery relies on fresh ingredients and gracious (if sometimes slow) service. The lunch buffet is one of the best cheap-food options in Central County and well-worth the trip, but the reason to go is the baked breads served only à la carte. The garlic naan is excellent, but the kulcha is better, and the cauliflower-stuffed gobi paratha is even better. Biryani dishes are at once toasted and moist, an apparent contradiction that has to be tasted to be believed. Navratan korma, mixed vegetables in a slightly sweet coconut-based sauce, is so savory you'll be tempted to lick the dish. Even so pedestrian a dish as chana masala (curry-spiced garbanzo beans) is woken up by the deft combination of various pure spices—no premade masala powders allowed here. The best part is the price: Even at dinner, you'll still get out of the lavishly appointed dining room for around $20 per head.

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