A couple weeks I went back to Calgary and saw J for the first time in what felt like forever.
And then he proposed… to go to curry. Yum, curry!
I know, I know… it’s been almost a month and a half and the best I can come up with is the front page of a restaurant’s brochure. But I will improve!
Raj Palace opened its northwest location not too long ago. Apparently they have one opening in the southeast as well. When we got there on a Sunday afternoon, the place didn’t seem too crowded but it was packed full of families who looked like they originated from South India. You know how it goes – Chinese restaurant full of Chinese people? Probably good, or at least fairly decent. I assumed it was the same for this restaurant as well.
In no time at all we were seated and had menus brought to us. J had been here once before and wanted to surprise me. We ended up ordering a curry dish and a dosa plate as well.
Service was pretty quick and the atmosphere was nice, friendly and bustling. Our dishes came hot and ready and we tucked in quickly. The first dish was a lamb vindaloo (12.95) and, while the portion didn’t seem exceptionally large, it soon proved to be a very filling dish. The lamb was oh-so-tender, the chili fresh, and the heat was just enough to give our throats a constant warmth throughout the meal. The biggest change I might have made to this dish would have been to add a bit more flavour; there was a lot of heat and some flavour, but it could have been even a little bit more savoury. Look at that big bowl of tasty (rice and toasted naan bread comes on the side in separate containers).
The masala 1dosa (6.95) came right on the heels of the vindaloo and for those of you who don’t remember, dosas are thin but massive rice and lentil crepes that are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. This one came with a masala stuffing, masala being spiced mashed potatoes. While this one was still tasty, I think the potatoes again could have had just a bit more flavour. J also would have preferred a dosa with more substantial filling, although for him I think substantial in this case translated to “more meat!” If you’re looking for a fun dish to order, this is it: the dosa is typically massive! See nearby bowls for comparison.
Since this was our first meal together in such a long time we splurged and even ordered dessert: gulab jamoon (3.95)! The only reason we knew what these were was thanks to Food Factory, which we’d binge-watched about half a year back. They came soon enough and we tucked in with one piece per person. Golly, was it sweet. Gulab jamoon (or jamun) are typically rich, deep-fried pieces of milk-solid soaked in rosewater syrup and these were both rich and fresh (read: HOT!). We had to wait for a while to make sure the syrup and the gulab jamoon were safe to eat.
They were really sweet. Really, really sweet. I think I ate my daily recommended intake of sugar in the one piece I had. That being said though, they felt like a great way to end the meal. J found his too sweet and I think it’s entirely appropriate that they only serve two at the end of the meal because one apiece is enough. At first bite they gushed forth with syrup, which was great, but the second and third bites felt like eating a really sweet, juicy donut full of syrup. Here’s another shot if you were curious about the inside of the gulab jamun. Like a Timbit, right?
We wrapped up our meal pretty quickly after and, although the bill took some time to come, we were pretty happy with the noms.
Pros: The food here is fairly tasty overall and very fresh. If you’re looking to try Indian food for the first time, I recommend coming here because the atmosphere is great and the prices are fair.
Cons: I do think the food could have been a little more flavouful, but that’s what makes this a good first-time Indian restaurant since the spices aren’t too strong and the food is cooked well. Unfortunately the service wasn’t stellar at the end (this seems like something restaurants in Calgary have trouble with) and we waited quite a while for the bill before walking up to pay.
In all likelihood I’ll be back to satisfy my cravings for Indian food because this place is close by… but also because it’s a fair restaurant to check out again.