It is not all the time that you see a restaurant so popular that it needs to open a second branch one block away, but this is what has happened on a small stretch of Oak Tree Avenue in Iselin, New Jersey. Back in 1988, a small eatery called Dimple Restaurant was founded and after a quarter century started to expand into the three location mini-empire it is now. While it has expanded a bit, they are letting the world come to them instead of spreading themselves thin.
The area has a high density of South Asians and an extremely high density of South Asian restaurants and retailers, selling all manner of jewelry, saris, and whatever might be necessary.
You could approach your meal from many directions when coming here, as they offer what they call "fusion" but what is really a collection of different styles of food Indians eat for casual meals. We did not touch upon the Indo-Chinese and even Indo-Thai sections of the menu and went straight to the gold standard and what seemed to be their most popular dish, tokri chat ($6.95, below).
Thinly shredded potatoes are fried into a basket that is filled with all manner of edibles. From crispiest to softest, you will find a mixture of fried lentils, peanuts, onions, yogurt, multiple chutneys, and probably a few things I missed. The best part about any chat is the extreme contrasts of taste and texture, and that is done brilliantly here, as sweet tamarind combines with savory lentil and each bite has a layer of smooth over the intense crunch.
There are many types of chat (their spelling) on the menu as well as an array of puri dishes, Indian quick fixes that are usually found from street vendors. Throughout the country you see people milling around busy vendors with spoons and scoops, doling out their prizes as ordered. While sitting down for chat or puri is a much different experience, Dimple's is the place to do just that.
There is also a page of South Indian food, and we could not resist the massive (almost a meter) masala dosa ($7.25, below), which was described by our server as small compared to the similar paper version of the dosa.
Towards the center is a nice portion of potatoes that is not too spicy at Dimple's, or at least in ours. The dosa itself is finely crafted and perfectly crisp.
The "Bombay Sandwiches" section of the menu is probably my direction for the next visit, with creations like the junglee jumbo and vegetarian hot dog sandwiches. Also of note, the "Dear Patrons" section on the back of the menu, a worthy read of the letter of the law here at Dimple's. I approve.