You could say that Shamim and Riffat Rana are passionate about Asian cuisine. So passionate, in fact, that they have overcome great odds to become—and remain—a local go-to dining establishment. The duo founded the original O's Place in Woodlawn in 2002, growing their cozy eatery through hard work, dedication, and support from the community. By 2005, their success necessitated a move to a larger space on Security Boulevard. But three years later, it looked as though their good fortune might come to an end: that’s when the thriving eatery burned down in an electrical fire.
Somehow, Shamim and Riffat never lost hope. Instead, they found a new culinary home on the second floor of Seoul Plaza, where patrons now sit in the food court outside or within the eatery’s charming dining room decorated with Asian-inspired artwork and flowers. Using the same culinary formula that gained the restaurant its initial popularity, the family-friendly eatery boasts a large assortment of Chinese and South Asian buffet dishes, kept warm and working on their tans under heat lamps. For specific cravings, diners may also order from lunch and dinner menus full of Pakistani and Indian specialties, including tandoori chicken and beef nihari.
Plates at Kabab Hut brim with traditional Bangladeshi dishes including curries, tandoori chicken, and skewered kebabs. A selection of 27 combo meals load these spicy, simmering entrees onto beds of rice along with sides such as fries or naan. The eatery also welcomes families with a kids' menu that reduces each dish to smaller portions without the need to root around for the shrink ray Mom keeps in her purse.
Kabab Stop is a small, casual eatery offering a menu saturated with traditional Indian favorites. Ignite ingestion with marinated tandoori chicken wings—delicious dunks of colorful meat barbecued and prepped for deep diving into a pool of refreshing mint yogurt sauce ($6.25)—or indulge in the paneer tikka wrap, where homemade Indian cheese's true potential is brought out by the nurturing nudge of yogurt, garlic lemon juice, and ginger marinade before being cocooned in flat flour bread with green peppers, onion, and carrot ($7.25). Otherwise, stage a Bollywood mouth musical with the rich, tomato-based chicken tikka masala ($11.95) or the lamb curry ($12.95). A plethora of vegetarian entrees, such as vegetable korma ($9.95), chana masala ($8.75), and yellow daal ($8.49), makes it easy for herbivores to meet one another without resorting to the complicated vegetarian handshake.
In Nepal, the sprawling summits and snowcapped peaks of the Himalayas backdrop Lumbini, one of four main Buddhist pilgrimage sites. In Baltimore, simmering curries and spice-laden sauces permeate the atmosphere at Lumbini Restaurant. This bouquet of savory scents dances over crisp white tabletops and drifts to the edges of an elegant dining room, which deepens with the broad landscape mural that guides glances along an outer wall.
Creamy or spicy sauces daub charcoal-roasted chicken, tandoor-barbecued lamb, or stir-fried jumbo shrimp. Veggie entrees blend the same rich sauces over pumpkin, baked eggplant, chickpeas, or house-made cheese. With each meal, diners dig in with classic copper utensils and cover laps with maroon napkins. For parties and events, a private floor accommodates groups celebrating a birthday, an anniversary, or the successful forging of a college degree.
The fragrant aroma of freshly ground ginger and cinnamon wafts from Akbar’s Restaurant’s kitchen, mingling with the smoky scent of meats simmering in a traditional tandoori oven. Rife with spices, buttery marinades, and cream-based sauces, the eatery's Northern Indian cuisine nabbed the title of Best Indian Restaurant from City Paper’s Best of Baltimore 2010. In the dining room, romance sparks amid classical Indian music and walls laden with traditional art and lists of pun-free pickup lines.
Between the traditional eats and visual treats of Darbar, each guest’s culinary escape stimulates the senses with delicious sights and pretty smells. A varied menu includes exotic staples such as chicken tikka masala ($14.95) and fresh-baked naan ($2.25+). Vegetarians savor the popular aloo gobi, featuring potato and cauliflower doused in onions, tomatoes, and spices ($12), and fish fanatics feast on the tandoori salmon ($17.95). Instead of chewing on a fine china set, visitors seeking to sample a broad selection of dishes can flock to the daily lunch buffet ($9.95 on weekdays; $11.95 on weekends).