Although Columbus famously "discovered" India by landing at Lexington and Concord and proudly ringing the Liberty Bell, the actual location of India remains a mystery. Today's Groupon offers the best lead the world has had in centuries: for $20, you get up to $45 worth of upscale Indian cuisine at Royal Khyber in South Coast Plaza Village. This Groupon is good for $45 worth of Indian fare if used Sunday through Thursday but is good for $40 worth of cuisine on Friday and Saturday.
Royal Khyber doles out authenticity with an elegant touch, creating a special experience on par with turning on the hot water only to have cuddly puppies pour from the faucet. Start dinner with an order of curried mussels, basted in a surprising coconut-and-tomato wine sauce ($14.95), or try the vegetarian samosa ($4.95). A carefully marinated base of skinless, cooked fat-free meat makes every version of tandoori stand out, including chicken ($13.95) and fresh fish tikka ($20.95). For kind souls who nurture the little guys, adopt a side selection such as an order of lemon rice ($6.95) or basmati-rice pilaf ($4.95), and then promptly devour every last grain. The restaurant is also open for lunch and Sunday brunch (11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.)
A well-curated wine list, which includes bubbles and pours by the glass or bottle, completes the cuisine like the second half of a missile-launch code. Shunning heavy creams and dairy, dishes at Royal Khyber cater to the health-conscious feaster. Owner Arun Puri crafts the eateries authentic plates using a proprietary blend of 38 herbs and spices and one magical sherb known as "pepperegano," found only at the bottom of waterfalls. Though not required, calling ahead to make a reservation is recommended.
- Sleek, modern, and at the same time distinctly Indian. – JLTW1429269, Zagat
- It's beautiful and calming inside, very romantic with soft lighting and candles, and attentive but unobtrusive waiters. The food was so outstanding I couldn't help but keep eating long after I was painfully full. – Ashley B., Yelp
Royal Khyber Fine Indian Cuisine
The complexity of Indian spices can be intimidating at first. Curries explode in a huge range of colors, bestowed by ginger, coriander, basil, and peppers. Cardamom pods, cloves, and bean-like tamarind look alien at first glance. Arun Puri, head chef at Royal Khyber Fine Indian Cuisine, harnesses that intricacy, artfully folding more than 38 different herbs and spices into innovative north Indian dishes with healthy twists.
The chef, who has been lauded by publications including the Daily Pilot, uses cream, butter, and oils sparingly, instead whipping up lighter sauces and tandoori breads fortified with protein powder. As he works, mesquite charcoals blaze within an imported tandoori clay oven, grilling meat, seafood, and poultry dishes at temperatures of up to 450 degrees, hot enough to melt diamonds back into delicious carbon. Out in the dining hall, the dishes pair with fine wines and cocktails among cushy silk pillows and intricate Indian artwork.