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Mahajara Bhog

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brucesw Mar 19, 2013 12:00 PM

I finally got around to re-visiting this place. I had gone a few days after they first opened and got a 'meal box' to go (earlier thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/852496 ). The food was very good but the portions were kind of small; nevertheless I don't partake of 'all you can eat' type places very often and haven't been in a hurry to return. But Alison Cook gave it a rave review recently and I think it was she who included it on her list of recommended places to take out-of-towners for a sample of Houston's best ethnic dining, pretty impressive for such a new place. Early reviews were negative, mostly on the service glitches, but more recently, especially on Yelp, they run to the wildly enthusiastic.

My take: this is an experience not to be missed. You may not care for the particular food (Gujurati and Rajasthani) or the lack of meat, but the experience itself is wonderful.

You will be assaulted by wave upon wave of servers, wanting to dish out their offerings for you; at one time, there were 4 in line waiting on me (okay, the place wasn't crowded at all). The parade continues throughout the meal. I found the food excellent. The curries are lighter than typical Northern Indian fare, but you will get filled up, nonetheless. This is a true Indian dining experience, not Westernized. You'll get samples of every element of a traditional Indian meal - the starches (the rice comes out at the end), the dals, the curries, the pickles, the sweets, the chutneys, the beverages. It begins with handwashing and chaas, the Indian version of buttermilk; before you know it, the little katoris on your thali are all filling up. I got no pictures; I was so excited by the process, when the initial assault of servers had run it's course, I couldn't wait to dig in. There are pictures on Yelp but pictures don't capture the experience. Don't worry about how small the little cups are, the servers will keep coming until you wave them off, several times.

I prefer to function here as an information source rather than a booster or cheerleader for any particular place so I'm stepping out of character here, but, again, if you like Indian food at all, go at least for the experience. It may well ruin any other Indian buffet for you at the very least.

http://www.maharajabhog.com/index_1.html

(the restaurant pics on the website are not of the Houston location which is in a typical Houston strip mall).

In spite of myself, I way overate. I need to go out in the back yard and chop down a tree or something.

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  1. Lambowner RE: brucesw Mar 19, 2013 12:10 PM

    Interesting. Being fairly new to Indian cuisine, I might be lost if chicken tikka and saag paneer were missing from the menu. Is it buffet all the time excepting the take out boxes?

    Incidentally, I have your blog on my Google Reader. Do you (or anyone else) have a suggestion for a replacement reader since the dastardly Google folks are shutting down reader just when I implemented it?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lambowner
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      brucesw RE: Lambowner Mar 19, 2013 06:41 PM

      Hmm. Well, yes, I see. Ya know, I hadn't really considered what the effect of my ravings would be on someone new to the cuisine. Never mind! (lol).

      I've never been to India so I'm not an expert; we're just at different stages of our understanding of this (and of course, you don't have to care about eating Indian food the way Indians would). I was amused reading Alison's review that for all the years she's been eating Indian and reporting on Indian restaurants, she apparently wasn't aware that the 'sweets' included as part of the meal are not meant to be saved and eaten at the end of the meal, like a Western dessert, but eaten along with the other elements on the plate. It's part of the mix and match, pick and choose way of eating, sampling all of the elements on the plate - sweet, sour, salty, spicy - along with the base starches, the rice and bread. It isn't often I can claim I knew something Alison didn't.

      What was new to me was the rice coming out at the end when I was repeatedly asked if I was ready for the rice or porridge (khidchi ??), neither of which is sweetened. I hadn't saved any space and had to repeatedly say no.

      There was an excellent saag paneer on the menu today, probably the best I ever had, but since the menu changes daily there's no telling when it might be one of the offerings next. It isn't a buffet, it's a set menu each day that is brought to you by servers; there is no 'menu' to choose from. You get what they fixed that day.

      This article has on CNET has been suggested for those looking for an alternative reader. I haven't explored any of these.

      http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-19512_7-...

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      kagemusha49 RE: brucesw Mar 19, 2013 03:56 PM

      if it's Gujerati they should have some wonderful vegetable curries

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