When Satwant Kaur’s sister brought her to the original Indian Palace Restaurant in North Seattle, she expected traditional Indian fare to make her feel at home during her first trip to the United States. While there, she also found love at first sight with chef and restaurateur Bir Singh, who was also a native of Northern India. The couple married and moved Indian Palace Restaurant to Woodinville in 2000. They’ve spent long hours running their business together, doing everything from poring over menus and cleaning tables to building robotic busboys from spare parts.
Under the guidance of Singh, who worked as a chef in Paris and went to culinary school in the United States, cooks spice dishes to each customer’s taste. Marinated chicken and tender lamb bake in clay ovens and jumbo prawns simmer in mildly spicy curry sauces. Indian chai tea boiled with spices and milk, mango lassies made with yogurt, and a selection of beers, wines, and cocktails from the lounge cleanse palates between bites.
For more than 10 years, the owners of Royal India Restaurant have enriched diners' taste buds with exotic sauces and potent curries. At both their Kirkland and Lynwood locations, cooks simmer prawns, lamb, and other proteins in curries sweetened by mango or pomegranate, bake marinated meats in a clay tandoor oven, and infuse housemade yogurt with cucumbers to make cooling raita sauce. Vegetarians can nosh on entrees such as chana saag—a dish of creamy spinach, garbanzo beans, and housemade paneer cheese—and sop up sauces with garlic-stuffed naan. As an added convenience, patrons can order online or from their local telegraph office or opt for evening delivery from both locations.
Rust-red tiles lead the way into Nirvana Indian Cuisine's elongated dining room, which swirls with the zesty fragrances of authentic Indian fare. The friendly waitstaff carries hefty portions of tandoori meats, curries, and samosas to resting spots on black-clothed tables flanked by red chairs. Glasses of sweet or salty lassi add dimension to each table's spread of savory meals, most of which can be transformed into vegan entrees, and appetizers and bread keep stomachs from wailing the same annoying yet catchy pop melody.
Launch a subcontinental flavor jaunt with a look at the menu and an order of kheema samosas, savory pastries filled with spiced ground lamb ($7). Mehfil's garlic naan flatbread ($3.50) pairs perfectly with paneer sagwala, a happy, herbivore-friendly marriage of Indian cottage cheese and savory spinach curry ($13). The Northern veggie dish of aloo gobi gives potatoes and cauliflower a relaxing soak in Indian spices ($12), and chicken tikka lavishes tender slices of chicken with a spiced yogurt marinade before treating them to a tanning session in the tandoor oven ($14). Tongues of steel can take the flaming-mouth challenge, attempting to cross a rainbow of peppers and finish an entire order of phall curry to enter Phallhalla. Hotter than vindaloo, phall is a British-Indian curry dish so spicy that it's wanted for arson in no fewer than 23 countries—kill it all and get a free beer (with proof of age) and your photo on the commemorative wall of triumph. Or take a more sensible approach to thirst quenching by spending some time tippling at the bar.
Spice Route melds traditional Indian cuisine and modern takes on Subcontinent sustenance to give diners a menu with a myriad of options. Starters include 12 vegetarian options such as paneer tikka, comprised of marinated cheese grilled in a clay oven ($12.95), as well as non-veggies such as the tandoori chicken, cooked in the traditional Indian oven and browned over a volcano out back ($11.95). Visit south India without piling into the family jumbo jet by sampling regional items––try the masala dosa, a thin rice crepe piñata-packed with a spicy potato filling ($7.95), or the adai avial, a spiced-up lentil pancake served with a mixed-vegetable stew ($8.95). Chicken lovers can voice their vote with an order of chicken curry ($10.95) or chicken tikka masala ($11.95), whereas herbivoyeurs can spy on the veg chettinad, a Spice Route specialty dish featuring veggies cooked in a spicy south-Indian masala blend ($9.95). Finish feasting with fried dumplings in sugar syrup ($2.95), or discuss your favorite letter of the alphabet over a cup of chai tea ($1.75).
In 1997, Chef Muhammad Uddin took over a failing Indian eatery with dreams of turning it into something more. After closing to remodel the dining room and overhaul the menu, he threw open the doors of the new restaurant, which he renamed Bengal Tiger Cuisine of India. By 2009, it had grown such a large following that Chef Uddin moved to a bigger location with ample seating, a full bar, and space for servers to practice their plate-spinning acts on breaks.
Though the warm-colored decor and friendly service are a draw, the real key to Bengal Tiger's appeal is the food. Chef Uddin and his team rely on fresh spices and lean-cut meats to flavor recipes from across India—from the madras curry inspired by the city of Chennai to the vindaloo dish that originated in Goa. Though Bengal Tiger's menu is à la carte, servers spread out a smorgasbord of entrees during the Chef’s Special dinner buffet, which, like games in the world's least active football league, occurs on the last Sunday of every month.
Rich red hues accent India King Restaurant’s spacious dining room, from the cherry-toned tables to the decorative fabric that drapes from the all-you-can-eat buffet tables. The restaurant’s lengthy menu abounds with flavorful curries, tandoori-baked meats, and more than 10 types of naan stuffed with spiced potatoes, spinach, and excess predictions donated from a nearby fortune cookie factory. During the lunch buffet, diners can pile plates high with more than 30 savory items including saffron-infused basmati rice, breads fresh from the tandoori oven, and spiced vegetables. Guests in need of a beverage can turn to the eatery’s selection of lassis, Indian beers, and wines.