I went on a gastronomic adventure the other day. I was already eager to visit Royal of India in Park Point, not just because I enjoy heading to the plaza anyway for music and books, or because it's nice to see the previously empty space opened up again. I just really like Indian food.
Royal of India occupies a space where Asian fusion Wok With Me Too was, and it was a shame that it closed down. The first thing I noticed about Royal upon entering is that through the dining area is that it seems warmer than before, the lighting had not changed much. The walls are repainted a muted dandelion hue with merlot trim and accents. The new color scheme paired with the mahogany-stained lacquered tables contribute to the room feeling dark and cozy, though the dining area is as expansive and plentiful as it was before. And the vibe of the place just feels brighter, because owners Nobin and Anisha Chuhan ensure that someone greets you at the door immediately, so everyone instantly feels like they are welcome.
Nobin started me with some papadum (oven baked flat flour chips) ($1) with tamarind and mint chutneys and soon returned with vegetable samosas ($2.99). I tried my best to not devour all of these appetizers at once. After all, I had more entrees to sample. Alas, they were so good, and my will was weak. The papadum is light in texture, yet it is full of flavor, not just salty. Though deep fried, the vegetable samosas did not bleed oil on anything they touched. They were packed with vegetables, and dipping them in the tamarind chutney gave them a sweet-hot taste that I'll yearn for until the next time I visit.
- PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
- A feast for royals: some Indian cuisine standards, including chicken makhani and palak paneer, at Royal of India.
Next, Anisha brought out something I'd never seen in an Indian restaurant: chicken momo ($9.99; vegetable momo are also available). These are a set of six steamed dumplings stuffed with Nepali-seasoned chicken, and served with a spicy tomato sesame sauce. The dumplings and the sauce are both Anisha's own recipe. The chicken inside was so juicy, it nearly melted in my mouth. Again, I attempted to not eat all of them at once, and again, I consumed all of them.
Finally, Nobin provided me with three standard Indian restauarant dishes: aloo gobi ($10.99), palak paneer ($11.99), and chicken makhani ($12.99). The aloo gobi is a cauliflower potato medley sautéed with garlic, tomato, ginger, and other spices. Palak paneer includes cubed cheese mixed in a sautéed spinach and onion cream sauce. Chicken makhani is cubed chicken breasts in a sweet, creamy tomato sauce. All of these were accompanied with basmati rice and house-made garlic naan ($2.99).
I will admit that I ate too much. I inhaled nearly all of the food I ordered, not out of gluttony, but out of enjoying the taste of everything put before me. The food here is so good, it was difficult to leave some to take home. Okay, I may be a little bit gluttonous.
- PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
- Royal of India's buffet changes items regularly, so a frequent visitor can sample the whole menu.
Yes, there are quite a few Indian restaurants in Henrietta, including the only local fast-casual Indian venue that I know about. They do have similar staple menu options that Royal of India offers. But the chicken and vegetable momo, along with a Nepali-spiced chicken or vegetable chow mein and thukpa (a boiled noodle soup with Indian spices), makes them stand out. Their menu is expansive, almost intimidating.
Fortunately, if you wish to sample a variety of things at one time, Royal of India offers a weekday lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. ($10.99), a larger weekend lunch buffet ($11.99), and a special Wednesday dinner buffet ($12.99). The buffet contents always rotate, so you can feasibly sample everything on the menu if you frequent the place. And there are always gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options available. You, too, can eat like I did, but perhaps not all at once like I did.