When a craving for Indian cuisine came on last week, we decided to look back over some reader comments and pick somewhere you had recommended for dinner. It had been some time since we had been out for Indian food, so we scoured the comments of Indian food reviews past. We discovered a recommendation from “shane,” who had raved about Royal India in response to our Tandoor Grill review back in December. While Sandy (Southern Sandy even!) isn’t really our stomping ground, we had plenty of free time on our hands, and decided to take the drive out.
Royal India, as seems to be the case with many Salt Lake Valley Indian restaurants, isn’t located in the most inspiring location. As with so many others, it sits almost anonymously amongst a row of stores in a strip mall. If the outside isn’t overly appealing, stepping inside is more rewarding. The restaurant space is nicely broken up into more comfortable smaller sections. The décor is minimal and understated, again reminiscent of quite a few other Salt Lake Indian eateries.
To kick things off, we each ordered a drink and settled in. Royal India offers a couple of imported beers, some domestics, and a small wine selection. I ordered my long-standing favourite Indian beer (Taj Mahal) at a slightly pricey $7.95, Wendi instead went with an iced tea for a more reasonable $1.95. To get a good feel for the place, we decided to start by sharing the Mixed Appetizer Plate ($7.95):
This combination plate contained 1 Vegetable Samosa, 2 Chicken Pakoras, 2 Vegetable Pakoras, and 2 Onion Bhajis. At $7.95 this seemed a great value. The plate came with the two ubiquitous condiments, a thin mint/cilantro sauce and a thicker spicy sweet brown sauce.
The first pleasant surprise of the evening was the almost whirlwind speed at which the food arrived at our table. Indeed such was the rapid pace of the kitchen, we had barely finished half our appetizers when our entrees appeared. Normally I am not a fan of such rushed service, I generally like to finish my appetizer before moving on. In this case, I wasn’t so concerned, as I find Indian cuisine is a little easier to mix and match. Wendi even enjoyed dipping her samosa into her curry, something she does on a regular basis.
As for the starters overall, they were quite good, but not terribly exciting. My favourite was the chicken pakora, featuring moist chunks of white meat, battered and deep fried. We both thought that the batter was under seasoned and could do with more of a kick. This theme ran throughout the variety of fried appetizers.
Wendi decided to go with what has now become our touchstone of curries, the Chicken Tikka Masala ($12.95):
She ordered her dish medium and was delighted to find that at Royal India medium has some kick. This dish was all it should be, creamy and rich, yet not disappointing as far as depth of flavour and spiciness. From the picture above, you can also see the plate of Basmati rice we were served to share. Some of the grains of rice had been coloured red, giving a certain festive appeal to the rice, which was perfectly done.
We also chose to share a Garlic Naan ($2.50):
The naan itself was a fine enough example of the bread standard, although I found the use of garlic powder rather than fresh garlic a little unusual. I will admit neither of us are garlic naan experts, so I couldn’t say if garlic powder is the traditional or authentic way to prepare this type of naan. If so,we will probably stick with plain naan from now on.
I chose one of the listed chef’s specials, the Lamb Rogan Josh ($13.95):
It’s not often I order lamb curries, at least not until I know a restaurants quality. I personally love lamb curries, but all too often find the cuts of lamb to be fatty and chewy. Based on the positive reviews I had heard of Royal India, I made the bold leap straight off the bat, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Large tender chunks of lean lamb meat were bathed in a delicious cardamom-rich sauce. I couldn’t identify a hint of gristle or fat on the meat. I was in curry heaven. Moreover, as I eagerly ploughed through my bowl, I realised what generous portions we had been served. As I reached the end of my curry capacity, I still had plenty of meat to work through. Ever the trooper, I did my best to finish.
A special mention and word of praise should definitely go to the organisation and service at Royal India. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a friendly young hostess who sat us promptly (while a second hostess waited up front should anyone else enter as we were being seated). Our table wait staff was comprised of several sharply-dressed men who checked our welfare at regular intervals and made sure we were enjoying our meals and in need of nothing. We were also visited by an owner/manager, who surveyed the floor and checked in with all the diners periodically to make sure things were going smoothly. Everything ran like clockwork and we felt perfectly attended to and spoiled from beginning to end.
If we are out in the area again, we will definitely be happy to dine at Royal India. I would heartily recommend it to anyone in the Sandy area looking for tasty affordable food served with a great attitude.
Royal India also has a Bountiful location at 55 N Main St, Bountiful, UT 84010
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake.
I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for more than a decade. I’m largely fueled by Uinta Cutthroat, alliteration and the use of too many big words I don’t understand. I ate all the pies.