Monday, October 29, 2007

Palace of Asia

After enjoying a Sunday afternoon nap, I awoke with a renewed sense of purpose: dinner. I roused TPB and began the discussion. He kindly asked, "if you could have anything tonight, what would it be?" After the very shortest of pauses, I declared, "chicken shahi korma, onion naan and raita." After all, it was the first truly cold weekend of fall and the thought of something warming and spicy sounded appealing. He immediately suggested Palace of Asia, which then took on a magical quality, as it was both very close and seem to offer everything I wanted.

Located in Fort Washington, Palace of Asia is situated between a Subway and a Best Western, all of which seem part of the same structure, save for the Subway's actual subway cars, which are admittedly pretty cool. TPB reported that the same family owns all of it and is also related to Raj Bhakta, one time bow-tied candidate on Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" and later, a failed congressional candidate. Although I couldn't find a definitive link beyond Mr. Bhakta's being from the area, the google searches do lead to news of Raj's publicity stunt of riding an elephant on the Mexican border while being followed by a Mariachi band in order to highlight the inadequacies of the border patrol. Fascinating.

The restaurant is essentially part of the Best Western and its expanse offers what you would expect of such a place -- a large, white tiled lobby and carpeted interior that seems ready to convert to catered-banquet mode at the drop of a hat. We arrived on the later side of 8:30 and one large family remained along with a couple of other diners.

Our meal began with Aloo Tikki, breaded potato and pea patties, with Tamarind sauce. Deep fried, the flavors and spices were still very clear and on the mark. From there, our entrees included the chicken korma I'd been craving, the tandoori mixed grill, and accompaniments of garlic naan, onion kulcha, and raita.

The goods were, as they say, delivered. The korma flavors were spot on. The sauce should have been less soupy in consistency and could have benefited from more nuts, dark meat and raisins, but the spices were perfect against the basmati rice. The tandoori mixed grill, which included perfectly done morsels of lamb, was exactly what it should be -- a mix of spices that take a backseat to the precise cooking method that renders the meat the right temnperature. The onion kulcha, a bit spicy for my taste, was nonetheless good and palatable with enough cooling raita. And of course, the garlic naan was also what it should be, which predictably enough, has me still tasting garlic. Which isn't the worst thing.

As we left, we passed restaurant reviews dating back to the early 90's. A quick search on google revealed that the restaurant has changed hands over the years, with the quality varying. As those reviews echo, the prices were high for this level of the cuisine. But the spices were on the mark; I enjoyed it and would likely go back.

Palace of Asia is located on 285 Commerce Drive, Ft. Washington, Pa. 215-646-2133

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