New Indian restaurant in Irving heeds sage advice from chef Stephan Pyles
Irving has a new Indian restaurant that is different from many others. Touch Nine, which opened on Valentine's Day in Las Colinas, stands apart from the rest with a goal to offer not only fine food, but also service and atmosphere.
Many Indian restaurants in the Dallas area focus almost exclusively on food, with less attention on decor and other niceties. But Touch Nine owner Ross Vijay heeded advice from Dallas restaurateurs such as Stephan Pyles.
"After researching, I discovered that people were waiting for an Indian restaurant with amazing food and ambience," he says. "I met Stephan Pyles at an event, and told him I was planning to open an Indian restaurant. He said to be sure to think about presentation, and that is what I'm doing.
"The food is good, but also the presentation and service," he says. "With my staff, whoever the customer is, we treat them with respect. We want people not only to eat our food but to enjoy the other aspects, as well."
Vijay is a former IT professional who transitioned to restaurant management before opening Touch Nine with his wife.
"We built it from scratch," he says. "We made the kitchen spacious, to make sure the chefs are very comfortable. Everything is brand new inside."
The menu has dishes from all regions of India — and beyond.
"Our restaurant has dishes from both north and south India: tikka masala, chicken vindaloo," Vijay says. "We open our doors for all tastes, including Indo-Chinese dishes, since not everyone likes Indian food, or they get bored and want a change."
He also offers kid-friendly options such as pasta and calamari, and a unique appetizer called mirchi, which he says is like an Indian version of a stuffed jalapeno, with a batter made with lentils and fried. It's similar to an item served by a small New Jersey-based chain called Mirchi Grill, which used to have a branch in Frisco.
The big debate for any Indian restaurant is whether to give in to North Texas diners' inexorable demand for lunchtime buffets when it comes to ethnic cuisines with which they're not always familiar. Vijay initially resisted but also wanted to fill nearby office workers' lunchtime needs.
"My goal was to do only a la carte," Vijay says. "But we're next to Citibank and Neiman Marcus, and they need to get in and out for lunch. So we do a buffet at lunch. But we got special permission from the City of Irving to use serving dishes, and not the regular steam table, which isn't as nice."