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.
The chefs at India Palace embrace traditional Indian recipes and cooking techniques, customizing the spice of each entree to meet diners’ preferences. In the kitchen, an imported tandoor uses smoldering mesquite charcoal to raise temperatures within its clay walls up to 550 degrees, roasting marinated servings of chicken, lamb, or shrimp as thoroughly as a deep-fryer full of magma. For their vegetarian options, the chefs can toss vegetables with house-made cottage cheese or aromatic basmati rice.
According to Patch, India Palace also features a small market next door to the restaurant, which emphasizes fresh produce, assorted varieties of rice, and traditional spices from India and South Asia.
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.
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.
At Dancing Ganesha, a comfortable, modern atmosphere and breeze patio complement a varied menu of traditional Indian cuisine, including tandoori chicken and paper-thin dosa crêpes. Exotically spiced plates, such as lamb vindaloo and saag paneer, arrive at polished wooden tables, which are illuminated by the restaurant's elegant built-in ceiling lights and elephants holding candles with their trunks. Dancing Ganesha also holds its “karma” happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily, during which diners can order $5 appetizers, $2 tap drinks, and half off anything else at the bar.
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).