WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Asked which of her five Westchester restaurants is her favorite, chef/owner Bonnie Saran reposes a question.
"Which am I most attached to? Little Kabab Station."
Why? Because the restaurant serving Indian food and located in Mount Kisco was the first one she opened.
But from a business standpoint, Little Drunken Chef next door is a standout. Its tapas bar and wide array of cuisine from various countries draws a hefty weekend crowd, the owner said.
Both are on Main Street in Mount Kisco where Saran has two more establishments, Little Crepe Street and Little Spice Bazaar.
The first like the name sounds serves crepes, along with coffee, soups and salads, and teas, spices, Indian groceries and lassis are available at the second.
Little Mumbai Market in Pleasantville is the fifth restaurant Saran opened.
She spoke to Daily Voice about running her businesses and a 15-chef team, including herself, that pull together dishes across the brand.
A native of India, she grew up mostly in the north but moved around the country frequently because her father was in the army.
After arriving in the U.S. in 2002, she worked and lived number of years in Connecticut before moving to Bedford Hills. Saran opened the first restaurant, Little Kebob Station in 2011.
In India, her career was in marketing and event planning. "I used to handle stage and sept design for major corporations to launch their products," she recounted.
But Saran also grew up around food and food preparation.
"I used to wake up to my mother running her catering business and help her sometimes, but say, 'I'll never own a restaurant.' She would say, 'Never say never, ' " Saran said.
And while India is an inspiration for her restaurant fare so are the many places she's traveled.
Tibetan Llama Momos, for example, chicken or vegetable steamed dumplings are a savory appetizer at Little Drunken Chef, while Goan calamari, a garlicky, tangy red chili with Portuguese spice dish, is a nod to her Indian heritage; meanwhile chicken tikka, tandoori chicken, seekh kabab, and samosas are decidedly Indian dishes at Little Kabab Station.
At Little Drunken Chef you'll find a range of far-flung influences such as Lamb Shawarma, Turkey inspired. "And we also serve samosas, of course, from India, and open faced sandwiches like you find in Denmark."
Dishes include jamón Spanish croquettes, Spanish pork, dry-cured ham to be precise, (dry-cured Spanish ham), Manchego croquettes, also from Saran's trips.
She works hard then vacations, she said.
"I do work a lot of hours," Saran said, then added her staff is reliable and she considers them her friends.
"We hang out together. I sometimes yell at them and they yell at me but we're all friend," she said. "My staff has a sense of belonging."
Food at Little Mumbai Market draws its inspiration from Paris. "It's artsy, you know, tapas, has an oyster bar, there's the pork tacos," while Little Crepe Street express is mainly a nod to the street cart industry around the world, where disparities in the clientele are wide.
Here's where she gets philosophical.
"People without shoes and well-dressed all eat at street carts. Money should never define what you can eat," said Saran.
Saran and her restaurants have been widely featured in local media, including WABC's Eyewitness News, The Martha Stewart Blog and in The New York Times, in addition to previous coverage in Daily Voice.
Here's a rundown of Saran's Northern Westchester restaurants:
Little Drunken Chef, 36 Main St, Mount Kisco
Little Kabab Station, 31 Main St, Mount Kisco
Little Crepe Street, 29 Main St., Mount Kisco
Little Spice Bazaar, 27 Main St, Mount Kisco
Little Mumbai Market, 475 Bedford Rd., Pleasantville