Orchid Indian Cuisine has been around for five years, but it has just moved to a much more accessible location in the Hardy Court shopping center in Gulfport.
The building is larger, the buffet is a walk-around, not pushed up against a wall as in the old location, and I am delighted to tell you that the food is as delicious as ever.
The Indian subcontinent is huge and has six diverse regions, each with its own foodways and culture, from the Himalayas in the north to the five states that make up the south. You will find food from many areas of India at Orchid, but the primary style is Mughlai cuisine, developed in the medieval Mughlai Empire and what most Indian restaurants in the U.S. serve.
Mughlai cuisine is characterized by creamy sauces, lots of garlic and ginger and ground herbs like cumin, turmeric and mustard seed. It is famed for its spiciness, but that does not necessarily mean hot, as in cayenne hot.
It means food loaded with spices you may not be used to, but you will not find them overwhelming. If you like hot, and if you think you are tough enough, order a dish from the menu and ask for it to be Indian hot, but hold on to your hat, it’s going to be a rough ride!
Orchid has a seven-day-a-week $10.99 buffet, and it’s a great place for a novice to start. Take small portions of everything that looks good and choose your favorites.
When we visited, Mark Dubaz and I enjoyed chicken vindaloo, chicken tikka masala (the most popular dish in Great Britain, by the way), tandoori chicken, made in a blazing hot tandoor oven, cabbage masala, a classic blend of cardamom, coriander, mace, nutmeg and other good things. The buffet menu changes daily, so there is always something new to try.
The menu is loaded with spicy Indian delights, which is a good choice if you know your way around this world-famous cuisine, but I much prefer the buffet, at least at lunchtime.
Make sure to order the kind of naan you want (Indian bread made in the tandoor oven to order). My favorite is garlic, but some like the sweet variety, peshwari, and if you are a bit timid about the whole thing, you can get plain.
But remember, naan is used like a big spoon to scoop up your food, and please do not be timid about using it the way it was intended. It is an important part of the Indian experience.
The staff is great about helping you understand the food, explaining the spicy complexities, and maybe suggesting one of the specialty drinks.
Indian food is also known for being healthy and is loaded with turmeric, ginger, garlic, green chilies — all renowned for medicinal and healing properties. And if you are a big fan of veggies, you are going to love what Orchid does. The buffet is at least 75% vegetarian.
Get out of your food rut and give this place a try. Spicy, delicious and healthy too!
Orchid Indian Cuisine
Where: 63 Hardy Court Shopping Center, Gulfport
Hours: Open daily for lunch: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Open for evening meals: 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday; and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.