6188 Tylersville Road, Mason 513-770-0500
Resturants serving Northern Indian cuisine are popping up all over town. In Mason is Raja India, a new restaurant from the owners of Akash India (downtown), Ambar India (Clifton), Baba India (Oakley) and Guru India (Crescent Springs).
If you've eaten at any of these popular spots, you'll be familiar with Raja's expansive menu of Indian dishes, including curries and oven-baked tandoori, each flavored aptly with well-blended spices.
The most immediate difference between Raja India and most of its sister restaurants is the restaurant's size. Instead of a cramped (and usually crowded) interior, Raja India is spacious. The tables are farther apart, more like a formal or chain restaurant than a typical cluttered independent eatery. The atmosphere and décor are simple, clean and modern without being stark.
On the night I visited, the newly opened restaurant was not crowded. If you'd really to eat at Ambar in the upcoming weeks but find there's an hour wait for a table - not uncommon on the weekends - you may actually save some time by driving to Warren County and eating at Raja India.
Dishes here coast around $12, but if you and a friend can agree on an entree, there's enough food for two people (especially if you get a refill of the rice). If you get your own dish, you'll most likely have leftovers to take home, and Raja India will happily supply you with even more rice for your takeout food.
On my visit, my dining partner and I split an appetizer of the vegetable pakora, which are deep-fried fritters of assorted vegetables ($3.49). The fritters were not greasy despite being fried, and they were tasty no matter which of the three provided sauces we drizzled on them.
For entrées, I had the chicken tikka masala ($11.49), which has chunks of boneless chicken cooked in a tomato, onion, and butter sauce. My dining partner tried the lamb mushroom ($11.99). Both were excellent.
We also split an order of plain naan ($2.49), which is an excellent way to sample your tablemates' dishes: Just tear off a piece of bread and dip it in their curry (when they're not looking, if necessary).
In addition to chicken, lamb, shrimp, and fish entrées, Raja India offers a wide array of Northern Indian vegetarian dishes. However, most of the dishes contain cream or cheese, and none of the vegetarian specialties are marked as specifically vegan.
HOURS: Open for lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon to 3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Open for dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
APPETIZER: Vegetable pakora ($3.49)
ENTREE: Chicken tikka masala ($11.49)
VEGETARIAN ENTREE: Saag paneer - cheese cubes cooked in spinach and cream ($9.99)
DRINKS: Mango lassi - mangoes blended with yogurt and rose water ($2.75)