So Jessi and I decided that after a really long week we needed to get out a bit today and grab a bite for lunch. We were crarving Asian food of some sort, and as we'd just been to Bangkok Gardens (look for a review in the future) we figured we'd give Taj Mahal (one of the two Indian restaurants in town) a try, as we hadn't been there in forever. In the past, we've had generally very positive experiences at Taj, although some of our friends have told us horror stories about the place (usually revolving around rude servers and a difficult-to-deal-with management). That being said, we'd almost always been very pleased with the food, and (except them opening 15 minutes late one day and having to wait another 10 minutes for food to hit the buffet) have not really had any problems with the place. Today, unfortunately, when we finally decided to review it, the food was sub-par. Including tax, two lunch buffets is $17-something, which isn't too bad; with a $2 tip (all you need at a buffet), you're out the door for less than $20, for as much food as you'd care to eat. The selection on the buffet today was pretty good: chicken curry, chicken tikka masala, saag, a potato and lima bean curry, a veggie korma, and a few other assorted curries. There was bhatura, naan, and one other type of bread. The dessert end of the buffet was nicely stocked with rice pudding, gulab jamun, and a few other things. All in all, it looked like things were giong to be pretty nice.
Unfortunately, the food itself was not quite up to Taj's normal standards. The naan that was out (we were the first ones there) was floppy-soft and not crispy at all; my thought was that it had possibly been reheated, something you just can't do with naan. A tray that passed us on the way out to the buffet later looked better. The saag was pretty good, even without the paneer, which is usually how I prefer the dish. The chicken tikka masala, which is usually excellent at Taj was mediocre today. The bhatura was nice. The rice pudding was great, as per usual, but the gulab jamun (usually something we can't get enough of) was a bit doughy and the sauce wasn't quite as light/tasty as it usually is. Jessi didn't think the tikka masala was bad, just a bit different than usual, but she said the lima bean and potato curry was 'just ok'.
All in all, it was a bit of a disappointment, especially considering how good it's been in the past. It certainly wasn't bad enough that we would say we won't try it again, but we might give India's House (the other Indian joint in town) another try to compare the two. Before, we never went there because Taj was so good. Only time will tell I guess, and even the best places can have an ocasional off-day now and again.