This evening, my family and I ventured into the Bensalem, PA area, which we had heard had a lot of Indian stores and restaurants to check out. We stumbled upon a little shopping strip that had a restaurant called “Royal Ashoka” in it and thought we’d go check it out since we were hungry and also in the area.
It was pretty quiet inside the restaurant, aside from some Indian Bollywood music videos playing on the television in the corner, and 1 other couple who walked in with us. It was also a bit dark and worn out looking inside. We settled down and checked out the menu which had a mix of both South Indian and North Indian dishes.
We started off with ordering appetizers and drinks.
- Mango Lassi – The drink was actually pretty good – creamy, not overly sweet, but a good amount of mango flavor. Simple mango and yogurt combination that was satisfying.
- Veggie Samosas – (the menu stated “All Time Favorite”) It had a nice, flaky crust that was really good. The potato and pea mixture inside was seasoned well and medium spicy. I enjoyed the tamarind chutney with it, as it was a good balance of sweet and heat together.
So far so good, and I’m anticipating my dinner by now because my appetizer wasn’t to bad after all, despite the décor.
Dinner arrives and it looks pretty good.
- Chicken Makhani – (ordered Mild for the kiddos) It was just a basic, regular makhani dish. Nothing extraordinary about it. The chicken was tender, sauce was creamy due to the amount of butter used in it, and a little sweet, which is normal. I’ve had better versions at other places, but it was edible.
Now it was time for my husband and I to try our dishes.
- Lamb Phall (Very Hot) – The lamb was cut into tiny bite-size cubes (almost looked like the size of ground meat) which I had never seen before. Usually all the lamb dishes I’ve had in the past were served with large chunks of meat, so this was a bit surprising. It tasted overly gamey for lamb and not fresh at all. The sauce had no flavor except for the chili base. Also, it had so much butter/ghee mixed in it that it left a weird and greasy after-taste in the mouth. We took maybe 2 or 3 bites and put the dish aside.
- Bagari Jhinga (Labeled as a “Signature Dish” for the restaurant) – Where was the shrimp? I felt like I was playing the “bobbing for apples” game, except it was with the shrimp. First of all, they used the tiniest shrimp I’ve ever seen in this dish. And they seemed to get smaller and smaller as they sat in the hot gravy it was served in. This was a South Indian shrimp curry dish and it was such a disappointment. The sauce for the gravy was so tart! There were hardly any shrimps in the dish and the few that I found had no flavor at all. Unfortunately it tasted like it may have been frozen shrimp. The sauce was an odd orange color and far from what I was expecting. Again, I had a few bites and put the dish aside.
- Butter Naan/Garlic Naan – Naan is usually soft and fluffy. The naan we had this evening had no butter on it, and was thin and extra crispy. I felt like I was eating a dry paratha/indian flatbread. We tried a little bit and again, put it aside.
No one even came to our table to ask if we were okay with the food. They just brought our food out and left. The only time we saw the staff again was when they asked if we wanted to take any leftovers home and hand us the check. I hate to say this, but it just seemed like management didn’t care about the quality or preparation of the food. As long as customers paid – it didn’t matter.
In the end, we left the restaurant hungry, frustrated and having paid an expensive bill for food that was not fresh, or tasty at all.
I have been to a lot of Indian restaurants and my recommendation for this one is to keep driving and pass on this place. They need to clean up their restaurant in general, improve on their dishes and quality of the products they put IN their dishes, and show they care what their customers think about the food they are serving from their kitchen.
And in case you’re wondering what we had for dinner….food court at the mall down the street.
2 THUMBS DOWN :O(