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Aug 7, 2008 09:47 PM

Sultan in N. Wales

A local paper had a restaurant review on the Indian restaurant in N. Wales near Lansdale, called Sultan.

What caught my eye was the reviewer's remark that there was new management/owners, a family that had previously owned the Palace of Asia in Fort Washington.

According to the reviewer, the interior has been redone, featuring brighter colors, tables clothed in pleasantly colored linens, and other features.

The reviewer was there for dinner and enjoyed most of the full course dinners he and his entourage had.

I was there twice, many years ago. The most recent time I visited for their lunch buffet which looked modest but aggreable.

The reviewer gave the restaurant 3 1/2 stars out of 5 and rated his experience in words as "very good." He commented that the shrimp vindaloo could have had more shrimp and been more tender, and that the various sauces of other dishes were very good.

My guess is that the area the restaurant is in, may not have the demand for a lunch buffet, and when that is the case, there is normally a cut back in the variety of dishes offered. The last time I was there was on a Saturday, and even on that day, the variety of dishes was what you would see on a normal weekday in the Indian restaurants in the Wayne/King of Prussia/Malvern area.

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  1. I read that review too! I always look for them and once I actually emailed the editor when the review didn't appear. Turns out they don't run them every single week. Can't wait to try the new place but I have to get over my corn and tomatoes obsession first. If any hounds try Sultan give us a report please!

    9 Replies
    1. re: givemecarbs

      Sultan is located in the same shopping center complex as Assi Market, and is one of two (yep, 2!) Indian restaurants in that complex -- one is near the Assi Market & the other is in the part closer to US Toys/Joann'e Fabrics. Unfortunately I can never remember which is which. Both are worth trying if you are in that area and in real need of an Indain food fix, but neither are at the level of Tiffin or some of the more frequently mentioned places.

      1. re: PattiCakes

        Sultan is in the Montgomery Commons shopping center near Redner's market and Greater India is in the adjacent center near Assi. Neither are worth going to in my opinion. We have been going to Sultan for at least 10 years, first when they opened in the 5-points shopping center (now where Lowe's is). They ued to be excellent but have progressively gone down-hill. Yes, I spoke with the new owners, who are very nice, and they used to run Palace of Asia in Ft. Washington. When they first took over I thought the food was good but my last few visits in the spring made me (and my children) realize that they had gotten to the point where it wasn't worth going anymore, which was very sad for s given that we live 5 minutes away.

        Now Greater India has NEVER been good IMHO. I have eaten there twice and never again. Bland, tasteless and uninspiried food along with a flakey, but nice (non-Indian) owner. I gave them 2 trys to make sure they were consistent and they were consistently bad.

        This is why I am so excited about Tiffin Mt. Airy, close enough (20-30 minutes) to me to make it fairly frequently. I would be very interested in your opinion of both restaurants FelafelBoy, though I think I know what you would say. I'm making myself hungry for some good Indian food, may have to take a run down to Tiffin tonight.....

        1. re: Schpsychman

          Thanks for clearing up which is which. The "flakey" non-Indian owner (a woman) is gone, and the new owner is a gentleman named "Jewel"(?). In the days before I knew what good Indian food was (pre Tiffin), they were acceptable. I'm with Schpychman and would be really interested to hear what those with a more refined palate for Indian food think.

          1. re: PattiCakes

            have you eaten at Greater India since the new owner took over? If so, is it any better? This post has gotten me in the mood for some good Indian food tonight and I may trek down to Tiffin (along with Taste of India, my new fav). Thanks...

            1. re: Schpsychman

              Yes I have, it's OK. My sister, who does not have a lot of experience with Indian food, liked it. Take that for what it's worth (grin). Personally, if I were in the mood for Indian, I'd go with a place where I'd be guaranteed to hit a home run. There's nothing like mediocre food to kill the buzz.

              I have never tried TOI -- it's on my list, though. I want to go when they have the buffet, however. I have a terrible time trying to decide the one dish I want to order from the menu. If I'm going to make the trip, I want to have it ALL!!

              1. re: PattiCakes

                OK so I was jonsing for Indian tonight and didn't have time to go down to Tiffin and wait for a table or even to head over to Aman's (trying to make a movie in Ambler) so I gave in and went to Sultan. Had chicken Kirachi (done spicy) and Peshwari nann. Verdict: not bad, average, better than my recent visits but nothing that great. It kinda hit the spot but I left feeling like I shoulda drove the extra 20 minutes and gone to Aman's. I guess it OK in a pinch. Doesn't sound like Greater India has improved much with the new owner.

                1. re: Schpsychman

                  I posted somewhere else, that some of us agree with other posters based on a similarity of taste that we detect.

                  I remember on my first visit to Chinnar hearing someone say that they thought the food was fantastic. It's all relative. For someone who is seeking very mildly spiced and fresh tasting Indian food why they would say that. For others who seek spicier more adventurous food, that kind of taste would leave us unfulfilled.

                  I appreciate when reviewers give specifics on the dishes so we have some basis for telling whether we, too, would like the food being reviewed. (In that local paper review I cited, the reviewer did critique the spice level of each dish ordered.)

                  I go to another Indian place nearby Tiffin Mt. Airy, so it's difficult for me to justify getting a takeout when I am already filled up!!

                  I am going to have to justify going there just for a takeout, and since I have other places much closer, the drive out there (40 miles round trip) is hard to justify. Now, if I lived in the neighborhood, that would be a different story.

                  Once a year I go to a N. Wales vitamin/health food store event, so I might try Sultan in the fall if I should make it up there again. Last time the event was held, it was on a Saturday, and the place had a "special" lunch buffet due to some holiday, but the "additional" offerings in the buffet didn't make the variety any greater than a typical buffet selection at the restaurants I have been to nearby. The smell and presentation of the dishes were appealing. I gather that the new management wasn't in place last year?

                  Until better reviews come in for Greater India, I'd rather try Sultan if I am in the N. Wales area.

                  Seems like other people like Aman's. The last time I was there, the buffet featured mildly spiced foods with little evidence of overdosing in oil. Ideally, I'd prefer more intense flavor with judicious use of oil used in the cooking. That's what I like about Bawarchi (except for its bhindi masala, which I have had three times there in the buffet, and all times it was just too oily), and Chinnar - you can taste the healthier way their food has been prepared, i.e. less use of oil. (If you want to get zapped with great flavor and can overlook some excess oil and cream used in the cooking, then of course, indulge at Taste of India! Once in awhile a dish at Royal India has been made with excess oil, but in general, they tend to use less oil than what you would find at TOI.)

                  How would you compare the richness of flavor of the dishes at Aman's to a Bawarchi, TOI, Royal India, or Tiffin? Last time I was there, I found myself seeking more flavor intensity.

                  1. re: FelafelBoy

                    I agree. I like Aman's but they definitely do not have the flavor intensity of Tiffin or TOI, not even close. I consider Aman's to be a place to get average Indian food, reliable but average. When I eat Indian food I like to taste the multiple layers of herbs and spices used, amazing how there can be so many but in well prepared dishes you taste them all. I think Tiffin's and TOI's food is heavy, oily and made with a lot of cream but, to be honest, that's all I've experienced at Indian restaurants. That's why I must try Bawarchi for sure. The food on their websit even looks different, you can tell it's prepared differently.

                    If you are ever in the area give Sultan a try. I know you won't be wowed and yes, skip Greater India altogether. Thanks for your culinary insights FelafelBoy, I always enjoy reading your posts.

                    1. re: Schpsychman

                      Schpsychman ... "I think Tiffin's and TOI's food is heavy, oily and made with a lot of cream but, to be honest, that's all I've experienced at Indian restaurants. ..."

                      Funny you say that, because that's exactly what I thought when I would always go to TOI. I thought that was the standard for Indian food for Indian restaurants. I was told that their food was heavy and oily, but I had no basis for comparison other than "homemade" Indian food I had had at smaller catered events.
                      All I knew was that I loved the full and rich flavor of every thing TOI did (except kal makhani) from soups to salads to entrees to desserts.

                      While attending a lecture held at Desi Village, I ate from a catered dinner buffet, and was exposed to a lighter fare. My other adventures at Himalyan, Royal India, and Gateway to India exposed me to a slightly lighter prepared dishes (particularly at Gateway), but the biggest evidence of lighter fare is what exists at Bawarchi and Devi (in Exton). Not only can you taste the difference, but you leave feeling lighter.

                      Sure, you give up some richness in flavor, but there is still enough flavor at Devi and Bawarchi to satisfy you (that is assuming these places are the same as they were in the Spring, which is the last time I was there!).

                      If you go to Bawarchi, don't forget to eat the vada's, the small looking doughnut type treats by the sambar. They are mouthwateringly good. Just dunk them in the sambar, eat them alone, or eat them with one of the chutneys. I'm surprised Dunkin' Doughnuts hasn't featured them, since some of their franchises from what I understand are owned by folks who would know what a vada is!! I can imagine what a business they would do if they just served sambar and vadas!!

                      The idlis are much drier but a treat to eat, in that their taste is so unique to my palate (being American, and having it taste exotic), and nice to dunk in the sambar.

                      If you are fortunate on your visit to Bawarchi, they will feature one of the more exotic dals. I wonder if they have kept the price of their lunch buffet below $10.

                      Devi has the best sambar, but a smaller variety of vegetarian dishes in their lunch buffet than places like Chinnar, which on one day I was there had SIX vegetarian dishes AS WELL AS several chicken dishes and other selections. I had some dishes at Devi that I've never seen at the other restaurants serving north Indian food, and similarly with some dishes at Bawarchi. These places are satisfactory alternatives to the richer food at TOI and Royal India.

                      I find that the lighter prepared dishes are easier to take in the warmer days, but in the cold days, eating the food at Royal India and TOI is great for providing a person with extra internal fuel.

                      In fact, I believe that TOI's cuisine is based on an area in India which is cooler, which explains why they use more oil in their dishes, vs. Bawarchi, whose cuisine is based on an Indian area that is warmer, and thus does not require the preparation of dishes in a way that heats people up in the same way.

                      And south Indian cuisine, as done by Devi, prepares food appropriate for hot climates.

                      Thanks for the heads up on Tikkun using more cream in their dishes. I didn't know that. Cream and oil make dishes, among attributes, heavier, more fattening, more satisfying, richer, and more memorable in flavor. Eaten more sparingly, they can still be enjoyed, I suppose. It's just that they are so addicting!