Ever known one of those doomed storefronts? A place that cycled through businesses the way some people cycle through significant others? A spot where businesses can’t stay open, even when they offer really good service and value?
We’ve got one of those spots right by the Capitol Weekly. Sandwiched between the Christian Science Reading Room and M&M Printing, it housed a really underrated little Thai restaurant when I arrived here four years ago. After that closed, it had a brief fling with a not-very-good Asian place (which we declined to review—we thought 1009 Ninth could do better). Then the spot spent a long time being single. We were beginning to wonder if it had decided to give up dating for good.
Here’s hoping 1009 Ninth St. has finally found true love. As I write these words, my stomach is filled with the best Indian meal I’ve had in awhile. And I’m somehow not even that sleepy.
We arrived just after one on a Thursday. As opposed to the empty tables I often saw with the previous restaurant tenants, there were still quite a few people here, and several more parties came in after we did. Most of the tables looked like they had been occupied recently.
Like pretty much everyone else, we had the $8.95 lunch buffet. Being a big eater with a taste for variety, I’ve always liked buffets. My initial run is usually to take a little taste of everything, then swoop back in for more of the best stuff.
One highlight here is the butter chicken. A familiar dish to most who’ve ever tried Indian food in this country, it features small chunks of chicken in a rich, red-orange sauce. This is extremely similar to the dish known as chicken korma (I can’t actually tell the difference). What I do know is that when well done it’s one of my favorites—and when badly done, it can taste like Chef Boyardee. But Royal Indians version made sure it was the primary component of my second plate.
Another pleasant surprise was a vegetarian dish featuring potatoes deeply infused with spices. A third came when the waitress told us the garlic naan, and not just plain naan, was included with our buffet. Naan, of course, is the flatbread typically served with Indian food, often flavored with onion or other spices.
There isn’t very much “royal” about Royal Indian. The interior is sparse, the presentation plain. Which I like, because I’m happy to not have to pay for it, just the good food. The whole operation has a friendly, mom-and-pop feel. One of my favorite touches is the PDF of their menu on their website, which has a handwritten “Sunday closed” right there on the front.
Having been burned by 1009 Ninth before (I really did miss that little Thai place), it took me four months to even try Royal Indian, even though I really like Indian food. They say that initial hormones start to wear off after four months, but Royal Indian’s relationship with our neighborhood seems to be going strong.
1009 Ninth St. 916.448.1050
LUNCH: Mon-Thurs 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Fri-Sat 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
DINNER: Mon-Thurs 4:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Fri-Sat 4:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.