Tuesday, September 8, 2009

India Delight (now Royal Taj) in Columbia

There is a ceiling to how great a lunchtime buffet can be, and the new India Delight in Columbia strains to reach that height.

(Update: The restaurant changed its name to Royal Taj in fall 2009.)

This is a broad buffet. You sit at white-table-clothed tables, but you walk to two long tables to pick your own food. On a busy Saturday, the first table started with rice and then held curries from spinach paneer, green beans and vegetable korma to dals, lamb and chicken tikka masala. My plate was full before I even reached the second table where a chef made potato dosas, and warming trays held pakoras and tandoori chicken.

That is a huge diversity, and every dish looked fresh and tasted good. India Delight's skill turns up in the simplest part -- the bread. Naan on a buffet can be soft and tasteless. India Delight's was crisp, warm and really just as good as the best places around. Of course, buffets have to spice at the mildest level. That keeps an India Delight lunch from matching the full magic of Indian cooking unleashed at House of India or Mango Grove, particularly in the vegetable dishes to my taste.

But don't get me wrong. I filled an entire second plate, and I loved the potato dosas, which I had never seen on a buffet before. The chef turns out the thin pancakes, and they're that wonderful mix of crispy skin with warm, soft potatoes inside. India Delight's talent with
this type of food that is traditionally mild gives me optimism that the full dinner menu will include spicier, more complex fare.

India Delight has a few other unusual touches on its buffet. Check out the fried discs of mashed potato on the pakora dish. Addictive and the kind of dish that would coat your home kitchen in oil. Also look for the thermos of tea on the dessert table. This is milky chai, maybe a taste of licorice in the spice mix. It's good, and the tea and dosas are both signs that India Delight wants to give you a deluxe experience. My friend and I chatted over tea. I thought about a third plate, but let reason (and my full stomach) win out over my greed.

India Delight replaced California Tortilla in the shopping center on McGaw Road behind Apple Ford. This row has a bad-news run losing the Atlanta Bread Co., Z Pizza, Orinoco Coffee, and the fast Mexican. But there is still The Greene Turtle, Cheeburger, Cheeburger and Cha Ya Thai Sushi, which has gotten some positive comments.

Check out my prior post about Indian restaurants in Howard County. Or click here for the starting page of the "What I Learned" guide.

India Delight
now called Royal Taj
8874 McGaw Rd
Columbia, MD 21045

NEAR: McGaw Road is the light where Apple Ford sits on Snowden River. From Rte 175, turn right on McGaw. From Broken Land Parkway, turn left on McGaw. The shopping center with India Delight -- along with Cha Ya Thai, The Greene Turtle and Cheeburger, Cheeburger -- is on the right before the intersection with Dobbin Road.

India Delight on Urbanspoon


Alicia said...

Looks yummy! How much was the buffet?

MegH said...

The lunch buffet here is $9.95 and I think it is the best around. The chicken tikka masala is terrific along with all the other buffet choices and the service is great too. My co-workers and I can't get enough of this place!

BeerGuy said...

Sounds great! I'll have to check this out, I'm a big fan of Indian buffets, the greater diversity of items the better since we all know to expect certain common items its the uncommon stuff that turns a good buffet to a great one.

dzoey said...

Buffet is $10 weekdays and $12 weekends. I went when they first opened and thought it was good, on par with House of India. I went back today and found the buffet had gotten better. Fresh Dosai, Dal that does not taste watery but has a good simple flavor. Three kinds of currys that taste like different currys. This is now my favorite Indian buffet.

Lovely Rita said...

Unfortunately, this place is good enough to make me question my loyalty to House of India. I feel like I'm cheating on my husband. However, the buffet offers several more options in a nicer space. The food didn't seem terribly spicy on the first few tries, but I've managed to find a few spicy dishes where I didn't expect them. They do seem to use a lot of coriander (at least I think it's coriander). My only minor complaint is that the naan seems gummy, but I'm too busy eating other things to miss the naan.

Lyss said...

Hubby & I ate here for an early dinner the other night. I had the Lamb Di Piaza (sp?) and he the Chicken Tikka Masala. We started with an order of vegetable samosas and had Roti with our meal. Everything was delicious! I also liked their wine list. The basics but that can be comforting. :) Definitely will return for the lunch buffet one day!

Jessica said...

Let me start by saying I am a loyal House of India fan. I went to Royal Taj the day it opened when it was Indian Delight. The food was OK at best and there were curried hard boiled eggs, disgusting. Needless to say, we never returned. Until today. The buffet is $11.95 (which I think is the same as House of India), HOWEVER our experience today was GREAT. The food was absolutely delicious. No curried eggs, thank god! There was authentic chai tea, soups, a variety of appetizers, veggie and chicken dishes. There was also a chef making some sort of crepe appetizer (I was too full to try). I am not ashamed to admit that I ate two full plates, 2 cups of chair and 5 galab juman balls, they were yummy! We will certainly be returning and I feel bad thinking this and saying it outloud but it might become our NEW spot since it is so yummy and offers more food and is closer then House of Indian. Don't tell them I said that!

Anonymous said...

Royal Taj is great! Food is awesome. Host bought my girlfriends and I a glass of wine for the long wait. So worth it, will be back!

Unknown said...

Today was my first experience at Royal Taj. It was absolutely delightful. I grew up in England where there is a lot of good Indian cuisine. I have been in this country for 15 years and have finally found good Indian food to talk about. The service and the food was exceptional. The buffet was a great deal. It had lots of great choices and everything tasted great. I will absolutely return and tell my friends about this place.