It has been a little more than a year since I started writing about the local culinary scene for Pasadena Weekly. From the start, whenever I was deciding on a restaurant to visit, the place I picked was oftentimes offering something I craved, or it was a place that I could enjoy with friends, or it was held in high public regard.
On Oct. 10, PW rolled out its Best of Pasadena 2019 edition, and the dining section, as usual, did not disappoint, featuring many amazing restaurants, some longtime favorites, as well as those that have only made their way into our hearts in recent years.
I skimmed through the book and was not surprised by any of the winners or those that won Reader Recommended rankings. That is until I arrived at the Best Indian Food section. My eyes darted immediately to New Delhi Palace, which won as a Reader Recommended restaurant. I’d heard the name, and knew it had been honored in the Best of Pasadena issue many years in a row, but I also knew that I needed to know more.
It has stellar reviews, picture perfect photos of all of their colorful dishes, and despite mixed feelings about their lunch buffet online, I was convinced to soon make my way there for lunch or dinner.
The restaurant was little difficult for me to find it at first, not realizing that it was located in an upstairs unit on Colorado Boulevard at South Mentor Avenue, right next to Europane Bakery. I walked around to all of the shops on the corner, walked up the parking lot ramp, and finally found it tucked away on the second story.
When my friend and I walked in to have dinner, the room was dimly lit, and, but for a few families enjoying dinner around 7 p.m., pretty quiet as well.
We were seated right away and took in the enticing aromas permeating the air. I noticed in a corner near the entrance was the section for the lunch buffet, and regretted not going there earlier in the day (more on that later). Nonetheless, the menu looked fantastic. We ordered vegetable samosas ($5) to start, and they were phenomenal. Weirdly, they might have actually been my favorite part of the meal, but I have a bias for crunchy, doughy, stuffed foods like empanadas and filled pastries. While this is wildly different, you get the idea. The vegetable mixture was packed full of spices, potatoes and peas. The spices blended in well, adding a kick. They are served in twos and are a decent size, but an order of four would make more sense to me since meals are all family style. I don’t know about you, but I’d find it difficult to share two of these between four people, especially once you’ve tried them.
Since my friend and I are both not keen on a lot of spice, we decided on the medium spicy chicken tikka masala ($15.95). This can also be ordered in spicy for brave souls, and not spicy at all for those who can’t take the heat. The underlying flavor is still there regardless. Medium spicy was just the right amount of kick, between gulps of water and forks full of basmati rice ($3.50). All dishes are served for the table so we quickly realized we might have gotten ahead of ourselves by adding chicken pakoras ($8.85), which are chicken fritters, much like the samosas, or fried or baked pastry with spiced potatoes, onions, peas, meat, or lentils. We also added on garlic naan ($4), which beyond tasting great reset our taste buds in between an array of flavors, colors, scents and dipping sauces.
As I looked around at the families dining at New Delhi Palace I realized why they were all in groups of three or more. Perhaps it was coincidence, or maybe they knew going in that here it’s a case of the more the merrier, with multiple dishes being passed around. Palak Paneer ($12), which consists of spinach and Indian feta cheese cubes, is a popular item, one that I’ll surely regret not trying. That and the lamb curry ($16), made with ginger and cardamom, shrimp coconut masala ($16), and tandoori chicken ($22 for a full bird, $15 for a half), marinated in yogurt, ginger and spices. I caught the scent of tandoori as it was whisked by to a table nearby, and now that is also nonnegotiable on my next trip.
We finished our meal with kulfi ($5), Indian style ice cream in a strawberry flavor. It’s thicker and creamier than traditional ice cream, but no less tasty.
While some serving sizes could be better suited for larger groups, the lunch buffet is there to save the day. It is open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and costs just $14.99, which is less than most of their single dishes. If you haven’t been there yet, take it from me: get the biggest bang for your buck and go for lunch. I’m guessing you wouldn’t regret the first or second, maybe even the third plate you go through.
It’s clear to me now why New Delhi Palace makes it onto our Best of Pasadena list each year, with their quick service, family friendly cuisine, and all the beautiful authentic dishes they offer.
New Delhi Palace
950 E. Colorado Blvd., No. 250, Pasadena
Major cards Accepted/No Alcohol