Image: Nomad

It takes only a single, crunchy bite of pakora to fall for the Sudra—maybe two if you’re a vegan-skeptic. The Indian-inspired saloon’s squatty florets of quick-pickled broccoli and cauliflower, dunked in spiced chickpea flour batter and served straight from the fryer, are truly habit-forming. 

With its cross-cultural menu and curio cabinet space, the Sudra (which in December took over Basa Basa’s berth in the Ocean, Northeast Portland’s microrestaurant complex) provides a very different kind of comfort food than its meaty, gut-busting neighbors.

Veggie-centric trays come in two sizes: generous ($9) and gargantuan ($12), each heaped with an assortment of house curries, salads, and chutneys. The bar specializes in bright, boozy, juice-based concoctions. Chef-owner Sanjay Chandrasekaran grew up in New Mexico, hence the menu’s Southwest twang: pickled Anaheim chiles decorate mounds of perfectly cooked basmati rice, and long-soaked beans share thali space with traditional lentils. It’s a happy marriage.

The Sudra
2333 NE Glisan St
971-302-6002
The kitchen’s fresh, gazpacho-like masala sauce, a bright blend of barely stewed tomatoes, cilantro, and gently warming Indian spices, shows up tossed with soft potato chunks on one plate and simmered with toothsome, speckled anasazi beans on another. A dynamite heap of raw kale “Peacock Salad” lives up to its vivid name, dressed in nutty tahini sauce and tossed with corn, roasted beets, parsnips, and fantastic pan-seared tandoori soy curls. Coconut milk lends creamy black-eyed-pea korma a sweet bite. Wrap a spoonful up in one of the Sudra’s lacy dosas, made from ground red lentils, kale, and brown rice. Smear everything with punchy cilantro-lemon sauce.

Despite the strong flavors, not a thing here is too hot or heavy. There’s a subtle hand at the seasoning control board, and the results are pretty, genuine plates that satisfy.