Thursday, July 22, 2010

Taj Restaurant

Name: Taj Restaurant
Location: 59 Main St., Binghamton, NY 13905
Phone: (607) 723-6454
Cuisine: Indian/American
Price: About $10 per person

Taj is located on Main St. on Binghamton's West Side, near Binghamton High School and not far from downtown. It represents the third and final installment in my tour of local Indian restaurants. The first I reviewed, Moghul, I found to have great ambiance and very good food, but regretted that they decided to stop their lunch buffet. My second Indian stop was at Curry's of India, which had virtually no ambiance but good food, and I thought their $6 lunch buffet represented great value. I thought the food at Curry's could benefit from more spice. I have been curious about Taj for awhile now, having read some very good things about it and I had heard they, like Curry's, had a lunch buffet that was pretty good. Today, I went to check it out.

I arrived at Taj and found it to have a somewhat rundown, mildly dirty atmosphere. Not exactly the most appetizing of places to eat, but as always, I come for the food first and foremost. After all, Curry's didn't exactly wow me with ambiance or pristine cleanliness, but I liked it well enough. What bugged me is that despite signage declaring that the "buffet (is) served every day," the buffet was not going on at this time. So that was a bummer. In lieu of the buffet I decided to do take out and began a thorough scan of the menu. And what a weird menu it is, with American cuisine like burgers and Greek favorites like gyros tossed in amongst the usual curry dishes that comprise the bulk of the menu.

At any rate, I think the owner mistook my perusal of the menu for being a novice to Indian cuisine and he was quick on the trigger to offer a suggestion. He recommended that I try the Chicken Biryani, and promised that I would love it. Sounded good to me, so I decided to give it a shot. A short 10-minute wait later, and my order was ready. The owner gave me three different sauces to try with the biryani: a yogurt sauce similar to tzatziki, a mildly spicy tomato-based sauce, and a spicy chili paste. He recommended I try the various sauces with the Biryani, in that order. I found his customer service to be good-natured and efficient, if perhaps a bit unintentionally patronizing. Before leaving I asked when the buffet would be going on again, and he replied that once the Binghamton University fall semester starts up, they'll probably start it up. So much for "every day."

$10 later, I headed home to give this Indian meal a try. As it turned out, I really did not care for it. The chicken in the dish was mostly fat and bones, with very few bites yielding any actual meat. What was there was not particularly tasty. That leaves the rice, which looked and tasted like it had been sitting around awhile. It had some good seasoning to it: I could pick out the flavors of cardamom, coriander, mint, and caraway. But it was all stuck together and dried out. The sauces were just OK. The yogurt sauce was very similar to Greek tzatziki (it very well may have been). The tomato sauce was my favorite of the three, and I ended up dumping it on the rice to give it some extra flavor. It had the subtle spiciness that I have grown to associate with Indian cuisine. The chili paste was OK, I guess, but I didn't think it was a very good match for the dish I ordered. To each his own, I reckon.

I do not recommend a trip to Taj. The restaurant has little atmosphere and borders on filthy. I did not care for the food, nor its preparation, a shame especially given that I have enjoyed practically every Indian meal I've ever had before this one. I also didn't think that it really represented good value, and I didn't appreciate the false advertising of a buffet when they did not offer one. I did think the customer service was good, but even that rubbed me the wrong way a little bit. Head the extra quarter mile over the bridge into downtown and hit up Curry's of India if you're looking for inexpensive Indian food, or if you have a few extra dollars head out the Vestal Parkway and try Moghul, home to one of the area's best restaurant atmospheres. It's perfectly possible that I caught Taj on a bad day, but I wouldn't expect a future visit to yield anything much better.

Grade: D

Taj Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. The food at Taj restaurant is served fresh and tasty everyday. The man at the counter is very friendly and honest. When I arrived at the restaurant I was looking for some buffet but the man said it wouldn't start until the university kids come back. I got a little pissed off but then the man suggested the chicken biryani. I thought about it and replied yes. The man told me it would come with Rita(yogurt sauce),Indian Pickles(achar), chutney (a green spicy sauce made from peppers and cilantro), and of course the Chicken Biryani. When I came up to the cash register to pay I was astonished to see the bill was only 9.99$. When I went to Moguhl(an over priced restaurant) my biryani came up to about 15.99$. Anyways after I had received the biryani I was eager to taste it. Instead of taking my biryani to- go i ate it there. My first bite was so so so so so delicious i could not stop. The man brought the rita, chutney, and achar and told me to add it as im eating. The achar had a zing nice flavoring taste to it. The chutney on the other hand had a tiny spicy part to it. The rita calmed down the spice. The people there were so nice and the food was so tasty i had to leave a big tip. I recommend this place to a person who eats good food. P.s if u dont like it YOU ARE DUMB AS ....

  2. dan u dont know quality food

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    It is fine to have had a different experience or have a more positive opinion of a particular restaurant - we can only write from what we think based on our experience and we certainly welcome comments from those who wish to add to our reviews. However, there is no need to criticize us personally for our opinions. Simply agree to disagree. Thank you.


  4. Taj has the best potato & cauliflower vegetable curry. I like their Gurab Jamun too.

  5. Lol great restaurant in all. Damn dan, u dumbass

  6. Hey sorry, I just wrote on the wall about Sabaidee Thai, my favorite restaurant, and decided to check on the other one. I love Taj restaurant, and the guy who waited on you is there every single day, any time. I really like him, but I could see how you felt. I totally agree with you, the biryani chicken there is not that good (though I think Moghuls - $22 but enough for 2 full meals - is one of the best Indian style I have had). If that was the first dish I'd ever had, I might not go back either. It should also be noted that the food here are Pakistani-Muslim style dishes and are quite a bit different from most Indian fare. I think the two of you should try it again. Recently I was on Soi Sukhumvit 3 in Bangkok where there is an entire "little-Middle East" next to a little India - with everything from Egyptian to Iraqi to Persian and everywhere in between. I have eaten the Middle Eastern / Indian style beef and lamb doner many times, but have only once (at a pita stand in DC) has a better sandwich than the lamb gyro from Taj. It is simply unbelievable, and if you ask for it spicy, it is accompanied by an extremely dry and incredibly hot paste - a few family members who love spicy food have found it too hot. Next, you must try the yellow daal, though it comes more like a soup, it is very delicious, and the chicken shish kabobs and chicken tikka (which come covered in savory paste) are simply the best marinated silk road area meats I have had damn near anywhere. Please give those dishes a try, and I think your opinion will change. By the way, I was in and out of there for a 2 year stretch and never saw the buffet once. He told me it is against their religion to waste food, which the buffet does. Afterwards, you can walk in the A1 market next door and purchase a jar of green chilli paste, garlic paste, and ginger paste. There will be premixed spice blends from overseas that have great flavor. Get an onion and some cumin seeds, sautee, add the three pastes, sautee, add your meat, some tomato sauce, and you have a delicious Indian Curry. Thanks for the platform :)

    1. ahh forgot, add onion and cumin seeds to oil and sautee 3 mins, add 3 pastes and sautee 1 min, add power mix and sautee 1 min, add meat and quickly brown, add tomato sauce and cook down, then you have a delicious curry. Same process for lentils, except you substitute lentil spice blends for curry spice blends, and at the step where you would add the meat, you dump the mix into your already cooked lentils and stir well. if you do not like spice blends buy cumin seeds and powder, turmeric powder, corrinder powder, garam masala, black and green cardamom pods, paprika, cinnamon, chilli powder and star anise, then just play around - all are available at A1 - and very cheap

    2. Hey Dan! You really really need to check out the new taj restaurant. Everything changed about the restaurant including the new MENU!!! Its awesome bro. Really. Also, the whole restaurant was renovated and now even has booths. You really really need to try it man. They even got fresh tandoori naan. So delicious I love it.

  7. Hello Dan,
    We are please to announce that our restaurant has made numerous changes in menu, decor and staffing! We would love to have you back to try the new and improved Taj. We promise it will not disappoint. Thank you for your thoughtful review.
    Alison and the Taj Team


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