A passion for flavor with a modern twist on traditional Indian food is the promise of the newly opened Raja Indian Cuisine & Bar, located inside the original Wellington Mall.
Look for the sign with the Golden “R.” Once inside, you’ll find an array of authentic treasures — dishes spanning many regions, draped in layers of bold flavors, and a dining atmosphere that’s warm and welcoming.
“We want you to have an experience,” General Manager Debarghya Bhattacharjee said.
Raja Indian Cuisine celebrated its grand opening on Oct. 30 with a luncheon buffet that was quite impressive.
“Our food is from all over India. We’re not focusing on any one regional cuisine. We have traditional Indian, such as northern India, as well as Indo-Chinese,” Bhattacharjee explained.
Raja’s owners — the husband-and-wife duo of Sunil Kayalchirayil and Sheeba Krishnankutty —call it “modern Indian.”
“Our dishes are not too common — street food, Indo-Chinese,” said Kayalchirayil, who studied the culinary arts in India.
The food is fresh, flavorful and bright with colors. The lunch buffet is a great way to sample a number of types of hot and cold foods. From appetizers, hot soup and salads, to entrees and desserts. The buffet is offered daily, Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at $12 for adults and $9.99 for children. The buffet stays open until 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and costs $14.99 for adults and $10.99 for children.
Buffet items vary daily, but two vegan and two vegetarian dishes are always options, such as Balti vegetables and mixed vegetable Poriyal, as well as three types of salads.
Flavors are spice-filled, from cumin to coriander, cinnamon, cloves and more. A variety of chutneys line the beginning of the table to suit a wide range of tastes.
“These are the accompaniments,” Bhattacharjee explained. “They go with almost all the foods.”
The accompaniments include mint, onion dip, mango and lemon pickle, which tends to be a guest favorite. “We make it fresh, in-house. It’s a long process,” Bhattacharjee said.
Appetizers include the popular samosas, a stuffed, crispy phyllo dough.
“Special items, like the goat Malabar, is from southern India. We use dry-roasted coconut. The Chicken Tikka Masala always has cream in there,” Bhattacharjee described.
Buffet entrees include items such as Tandoori Chicken and Shrimp Biryani.
Desserts are also offered, one hot and one cold, including the Galub Jamun, which are donuts in a warm sugar syrup.
Diners also have a wide-ranging a la carte menu to choose from as well. All dishes are labeled clearly by spice levels of medium or hot, as well as vegan and gluten free.
For starters, there’s the Saffron Pen Salad with radish, onion, fresh fruit, shaved carrots and cucumbers, and saffron mermaldu dressing for $6. The Lamb Shalgam soup is made with spiced ground lamb, poached egg and vegetable broth for $7. Raja’s Mix Sampler includes chicken wings, chicken kabob, paneer tikka and samosa veg pakora. It goes for $12 to get a taste of all those items.
As for entrees, there are a number of curry dishes to several vegan options, with its own section on the menu. Tandoor options include tandoori chicken, jumbo shrimp and more. A variety of Naan breads are available, from butter to garlic, Rosemary olive oil, to ginger honey — all make a savory addition.
The owners’ favorite is one of the chef specials, the Yellow Snapper. It’s cooked in a tandoor topped with curried coconut shrimp. The specials run between $20 and $25.
For dessert, the fig and honey kulfi is made with fig basil sour coulis and raspberry butter, while the mango cheesecake comes with vanilla bean ice cream and red wine rose syrup reduction.
Hot beverages range from black coffee to masala chai, and more, to top off your meal. The dining room is welcoming with deep brown wood booths and tables with gold accents on the seating.
“When you first walk in, this restaurant had its own history and light fixtures. We tried to keep it that way, but we added blue paint, which gives you an energetic vibe,” Bhattacharjee said. “When you walk in, it’s a feeling of family with a large dining table, that gives a homey feeling. In the corner, there’s a relaxing waiting area with small couches and a tea table. We have some elephant pieces from Rajasthan, also pieces from the Buddhist religion.”
Raja also features private party rooms for up to 50 people and meeting spaces for up to 12. The outdoor patio bar is getting a makeover to provide a whole other atmosphere with lots of seating. Dogs are even invited to join their families, with their own special menu to order from.
Also in the works is live entertainment from cultural dancers to sitar music. The owners plan to soon work with the Winter Equestrian Festival and expand the flavors available there.
Meanwhile, guests from Wellington and the surrounding communities are invited to visit the new restaurant for a celebration of Indian food, music and culture.
Look for the golden “R” inside the circle at the far back parking lot. It will greet you for an authentic experience with many happy and tasty returns.
Raja takes reservations, offers carryout and is working with Delivery Dudes and Grub Hub. See their Facebook page for daily specials and upcoming entertainment.
Raja Indian Cuisine & Bar is located in the original Wellington Mall at 12794 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 20, with direct access through the back parking lot. For more information, call (561) 318-5383 or visit www.rajawellington.com.