|Romantic dark = Good meal, bad blog photos|
The news is that Royal Taj competes well.
Indian cuisine in Columbia is so good that the McGaw Road restaurant seemed almost extra when it opened as "India Delight" two years ago. They changed the name, and they have consistently upped the experience. Over recent months, people kept mentioning Royal Taj -- its lunch buffet, its ambiance.
That's how I pulled Mrs. HowChow past her favorite House of India and into Royal Taj. I had eaten there twice for the lunch buffet where they fill two tables with dishes and offer specialities like hand-cooked dosas. For dinner, the lights go down, and the table cloths and service make this one classy level up from most casual restaurants.
The food is a level up as well. They start you with chickpea flour crisps called papadum, and the gratis starter set the bar high immediately. The three chutneys to eat with the papadum were bright and fresh. One with cilantro, one with tamarind. We went straight with our test meal: chicken korma and the eggplan dish called baingan bharta. We can eat them happily at House of India, so Royal Taj had to be something special.
It is. The chicken curry came creamy with flavors of tomato and meat, and the eggplant was smokey and better than baingan bharta that I have had before. The smokiness was a deeper, surprising flavor , and the dish comes chunky. Often, it's just a puree. Royal Taj added texture with eggplant chunks and onion done perfectly where it's crisp, but cooked through. Scoop this up with the warm naan, and you'll make even meat-lovers happy with a vegetarian entree.
I still love House of India, and I can't wait for Mango Grove to open its new space for vegetarian items and the dosas. They're still two of the best kitchens around Howard County. But Royal Taj -- along with other Indian places like Flavors of India and Akbar in Coumbia and Tandoor Grill on Johns Hopkins Road -- makes this one of the deepest cuisines around.
8874 McGaw Road
Columbia, MD 21045
NEAR: Royal Taj is in a shopping center on McGaw Road just west of Snowden River Parkway. The center also has Jason's Deli, The Green Turtle, and the Cha-Ya Asian restaurant.