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Review of Raj Palace – Authentic South Indian Cuisine

Summary: an authentic line-up of traditional South Indian cuisine and the reasonable prices make Raj Palace a worthwhile addition to the nascent South Indian food scene in Calgary.

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Raj Palace is one of those places that’s 5 min. away from my place but for one reason or the other, has never been very high up on my priority list. I promised a friend dinner after bitching out on him at the last minute at an unrelated event. James, who is also of South Indian descent, had mentioned that Raj Palace had a full on South Indian lunch buffets ($12.99) on Sundays, so this was the natural choice to visit on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Indian cuisine is very diverse, just like its geography and culture. Most non-Indians are only familiar with North Indian cooking, typified by the most-famous-of-them-all: butter chicken. I myself am a big fan of North Indian fare. However, the latter tends to be fairly rich and heavy and isn’t something you want to have everyday. South Indian food tends to be lighter, easier on the heart cholesterol-wise, and doesn’t put you to sleep after every meal. That said, a large part of the cuisine is rice-based, so it’s not any lighter on the calories.

Funnily enough, Raj Palace used to be Mysore Palace. However, the interior is almost exactly the same as before. Frankly, the only visible difference is the “Raj Palace” banner that sits on the exterior in place of where “Mysore Palace” used to be. In fact, the serving plates still say “Mysore Palace” on them…hahaha. So brown… 

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The interior was a bit dark for a Sunday afternoon, but very spacious, clean, and inviting. You could sit in a booth for a more intimate affair or at one of the tables if you didn’t care about privacy. The impression I was left with was that management and staff put a lot of time and effort to make this place clean and spotless…almost like you could eat off the floor.

We jumped into the buffet right away, which like J. promised, offered almost exclusively all South Indian items. Raj Palace had all the traditional South Indian offerings ranging from items such as the more traditional idli (rice cakes), dosa (rice crepes), and vada (doughnut shaped lentil-based fritters), to the lesser known items such as tomato bath and uppama (seasoned cream of wheat porridge). In addition, the buffet offered other staples such as sambar (spicy lentil broth). All in all, I was pretty impressed by line of vegetarian South Indian offerings.

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There were also a bunch on non-veg dishes which I didn’t pay any attention to. Typically Richard or Kent would cover this aspect, so I usually don’t pay attention to the meat offerings. I guess it’s my way of saying f-you to all the non-vegetarians out there.

Like Southern Spice, Raj Palace also offered unlimited dosas as part of the buffet. The dosas were fresh, warm, crispy, and went well with the sambar. However, they paled in comparison to the ones offered at Southern Spice – those just transported me back to the motherland!

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Idli/dosa/vada are typically eaten for breakfast or as a snack, so the buffet also included some main courses such as potato fry and other items. They were also tasty, but nothing to get too excited about.

The service level was also very good. Our server was very attentive, refilling our glasses constantly, or taking away used dishes. The only thing that irritated me a little was the lack of little cups (shown in the pic above) to hold the sambar or other chutneys. Those seemed to be in a constant short supply.

Summary

AFAIK, including Raj Palace, Calgary has three restaurants offering distinct South Indian cuisine. The other two are: Southern Spice and Canada Dosa Corner. Of these, Canada Dosa Corner is the hands-down winner. That said, Raj Palace is a great alternative to get your South Indian fix and offers a very authentic range of dishes at a very reasonable price. They also apparently now offer a limited selection of hakka cuisine, which is another plus (although I haven’t tried it out).

Ranking

Kiran
Ambiance 4/6
Service 4/6
Plating N/A
Taste 4/6
Originality Authenticity 5.5/6
Value 5/6
Overall 22.5/30 = 75%
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2 responses to “Review of Raj Palace – Authentic South Indian Cuisine

  1. Vincci December 10, 2011 at 01:13

    Yummm that looks so delicious! I loved Southern Spice, so will have to try Raj’s Palace, though as someone who neither lives nor works downtown parking could be an issue…

  2. kiransomanchi December 25, 2011 at 23:36

    Hey Vincci. Sorry about the delayed reply…been a busy couple of months. Yeah, if you are coming down on a Sunday for the South Indian lunch buffet, parking shouldn’t be a problem at all. It’s pretty dead there, so most of the times, you can park right next to the restaurant.

    What did you think of Southern Spice? I would recommend Southern Spice over Raj Palace for variety, but I think the availability of more authentic South Indian cuisine wins out over at Raj Palace.

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