Just north of Falconridge, in the increasingly expanding Saddletowne area lies this recently opened, clandestine gem of an eatery. It’s a small place, with only six tables and a front counter. It has the aura of a take-out restaurant and, indeed, while we were there most of the walk-in customers did not stay.
The in-table menu (the menu was literally under the glass tabletop) is quite elaborate, with dishes ranging from the classics – butter chicken, karahis, etc. – to hakka cuisine. We were greeted by a pleasant and knowledgeable server who helped us with the selection of dishes. A whole day of fasting had gotten the better of our decision-making abilities, and his advice helped immensely.
We ordered the BBQ platter which consisted of a variety of kababs and tikkas as an appetizer. The entrees were butter chicken, mutton karahi and chilli chicken accompanied by naan. To combat the imminent spiciness, we also got some mango and sweet lassi.
As we waited for the food to arrive, a closer look at the menu informed of a halwa puri breakfast special available on the weekends. A glance at the display counter revealed an array of Pakistani sweets that are imported directly from Karachi (featured on CBC).
Our food finally arrived – all of it. Unexpectedly, the appetizers were served at the same time as the entrees. The naan was fresh, hot, fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. The salad and chutneys accompanying the meal were good, but the presentation of the chutneys was weak. There was stray chutney all over the edges of both bowls.
The BBQ platter was mouthwatering at first glance and did not disappoint. The platter consisted of tikka boti, chicken tikka, seekh kabab, behari kabab and reshmi kabab. The tikka boti was amazing! The soft, succulent beef cubes, mildly spiced and slightly tangy literally melted in the mouth. The boneless chicken tikka was just shy of excellence, as it could’ve used a little more salt. Still, the deep, red colour and tenderness of the chicken was both a sight to behold and a taste to savour and devour. The seekh kabab was above average, but there is definitely better out there. The behari kabab is a thinly-sliced steak prepared on a skewer. It was lightly charred and had a smoky aroma and flavour. It showed promise, but the meat was tough and chewy. It was my first time eating reshmi kabab, and it was good. Infused with whole cumin and corriander, this minced chicken delight was well prepared and tasty.
Butter chicken! Yes, the excitement had been building. It’s not bad here. Hearty helpings of chicken were definitely a plus. The sauce however, was slightly tangy for butter chicken. I like mine a tad on the sweet side and definitely creamier.
The chilli chicken reminded one of chicken jalfrezi. The ‘chilli’ in this dish was evident. The hakka flavours were enhanced by the heat and resulted in better than adequate dish.
The final entree, mutton karahi, was excellent. The tender meat was drowned in a thick and savoury curry. Slivers of ginger garnish and the crispy naan as a complement, complete this tasty dish.
The sweet lassi was very good and provided respite from the spices. The mango lassi was average and did not possess the soothing qualities of the plain yoghurt goodness.
The gentleman serving us insisted that we order their famous faluda for dessert. Faluda consists of ice cream, vermicelli noodles, rose syrup and assorted fruits served in a glass with a sprinkling of crushed pistachio and basil seeds on top. His insistence was justified, as the dessert was a fitting end to an enjoyable meal. A few icy chunks of ice cream were the only complaint.
Royal Tandoor is relatively new at 4 months old. This unassuming restaurant offers friendly service and amazing food. We even ordered additional take-out to bring home. If you’re looking for good Pakistani food, this is the place to go!