Newsletter

Bansari Indian Cuisine Off to Strong Start Despite COVID-19

A month after opening Bansari Indian Cuisine (2750 Gallows Road) in Merrifield, Yash Bhatt picked up the phone.

It was Tim Carman, a food critic for The Washington Post.

He had been ordering takeout from the new Punjabi-style restaurant, enjoyed the food, and was writing a review.

“We had no clue,” Bhatt said. “We were serving him like a normal customer.”

His favorable review, published last week, buoyed the team.

“You feel that sense of pride when, not knowingly, you were doing the right thing the whole time,” he said.

The reward came after months of work and new obstacles caused by the shutdown. With regulatory agencies reachable only by mail or email, obtaining permits was slow going, but Bhatt “can’t complain.”

News of the restaurant is spreading. Outdoor dining fills up quickly, but people are skittish to eat indoors, he said.

The small team he has is “going crazy” trying to keep up, but Bhatt said “it is exciting to hear the phone ring all the time.” Bhatt wonders if it’s time to hire more wait staff.

The restaurant used to be Punjabi by Nature, but the owners wanted out of the business, Bhatt said. His wife Nirali and head chef Deepak Sarin, who used to cook for Punjabi by Nature, became co-owners in June. The space was closed for renovations and opened in mid-July.

About six other Indian restaurants can be found within a 5-mile radius of Bansari, which Bhatt said was intimidating at first.

“It looked really challenging, but in the end, we knew our chef has magic hands,” Bhatt said.

In fact, Sarin’s “magic hands” caught Carman’s attention during the summer, when he tried the chef’s pani puri. The cold Indian street snack, which provides a moment of respite from the summer heat, is made from hollow, crispy crêpe balls filled with chickpeas, potatoes and spices, and doused in water flavored with mint, cilantro, chilies, sugar and black salt. Sarin lets diners assemble the pani puri themselves.

All the dishes are made in-house, and Sarin divides his time between Bansari and his other restaurant, Bhai Sahab in Leesburg.

Bhatt, a mechanical engineer by trade, had always dreamed of owning and operating a business. He established a local chain of four smoothie joints in Toronto.

“I love cooking,” he said. “I’m passionate about it.”

He moved to the U.S. and married Nirali, who works in IT. When Bhatt agreed to handle day-to-day operations of Bansari, he convinced Sarin, who he calls Uncle, to add egg dishes to the menu — an homage to the street food vendors in Gujarat, Bhatt’s home state.

A lot of folks from Gujarat eat eggs because they are vegetarian, Bhatt explains. Small carts and food trucks dish up curried eggs, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, eggs in rice and omelettes with garlic, chili and gravy.

“It’s non-stop eggs,” Bhatt said.

The extensive menu mines the riches of northern Indian cuisine, especially Bhatt’s home state of Gujarat and Sarin’s home state of Rajasthan, both of which border Pakistan. The team is always developing recipes, exploring new regions through food and fusing them with other cuisines, he said.

Eventually, he wants to equip Bansari with the ability to live-cater Indian weddings: multi-day affairs that increasingly feature chefs cooking in front of guests.

“There is alway something exciting going on in the kitchen,” Bhatt said.

Bansari Indian Cuisine is open Monday through Sunday for lunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner hours are 4-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 4-11 p.m. Friday through Sunday. There is free parking in the rear of the building.

Order online through the website, or through DoorDash, UberEats and GrubHub.

Recent Stories

The Prosperity Business Campus owner has suggested turning it into a mixed-use neighborhood (via Fairfax County) The Mosaic District has been declared a rousing success by Fairfax County, but between…

This sponsored column is written by the team at Arrowine & Cheese (4508 Cherry Hill Road in Arlington). Sign up for the email newsletter and receive exclusive discounts and offers. Experience Arrowine’s Tastings & Events. Have…

A rendering of the duplexes proposed to replace the Vienna Courts condos (via Town of Vienna) The Vienna Courts offices will officially be replaced with residential condominiums. The Vienna Town…

Morning Notes

Trees lit up for the winter holidays illuminate the Mosaic District amid nighttime fog (photo by Susan Woolsey) Alexandria Motel Demolished — “The Alexandria Motel at 6411 Richmond Highway was…

Chris Green is one of the DMV’s finest fitness instructors. A Lululemon and South Block ambassador, he is a coach and mentor to so many. He embodies grace, positivity and motivation in ways that no one else can. If we could all learn a thing or two from him, the world would be a much better place. He does so much for others, and does so with a smile on his face 99% of the time.

He recently ruptured his Achilles and has an incredibly long and tough journey ahead. As if COVID hadn’t impacted fitness professionals enough, throw this in the mix and it’s a double, even triple whammy. CG is no longer able to work and do what he loves for the time being because of this and we’d love your support.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here for just $99.

The Rhea Baker State Farm Agency is proud to support Shelter House in providing safe places to be during quarantine. Shelter House’s mission is to prevent and end homelessness and domestic violence. Right now they are providing over 200 hotel rooms to those in need in our community. In the past year, across all programs, Shelter House served nearly 500 households comprised of over 1,500 individuals, 60% of which were children.

Of the households that exited shelter, over 70% moved to permanent housing. The Baker Agency has served Vienna and Tysons residents and business owners since 2007 and proudly offers insurance solutions for you home, condo, auto insurance, life insurance and more. We offer complimentary reviews and coach teen drivers to safer, better drivers, and to help keep your auto insurance rates down! We are always happy to talk or text at 703-847-6880.

Submit your own Community Post here for just $99.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list