AYCE, Indian

Royal India ($9.99 AYCE lunch special) – Del Mar, CA

Ok. Maybe I am realizing I try to find the best deals when it comes to eating out in San Diego. BUT. That’s only because sis and I are cheap and we try to maximize our dollar(s) when it comes to eating out. And, we kinda make it into a game to see who can find the best deals. Which usually *I* win.

Royal India recently remodeled the previous Indian restaurant (Star of India) that was located in this Carmel Valley strip mall.

IMG_0108 (1280x960)

 Sculpture in the Carmel Valley mall

We actually liked SOI because they had a great $10.99 AYCE lunch deal Mon-Fri. And even though their dinner menu was expensive, the quality of the food was excellent and well, there aren’t alot of Indian restaurants in CV. So it was sad to see them close. But we soon found out that Royal India took over and remodeled the entire place.

IMG_0094 (960x1280) IMG_0096 (960x1280)

– Beautiful brick stone wall and an amazing waterfall inside the restaurant

IMG_0095 (960x1280) IMG_0102 (1280x960)

– Left: cool chandelier and another view of the waterfall ; Right: buffet set up for Lunch

I saw that they have a $10 for $20 deal on yelp and was wondering if it applied to their new $9.99 AYCE lunch special.

IMG_0107 (960x1280)IMG_0106 (960x1280)

 – $9.99 AYCE lunch buffet and their outdoor patio

I called them to ask and the guy said yes, the yelp deal can apply for their $9.99 AYCE (the yelp deal cannot be combined with any other coupons or deals though). So sis and I thought this would be a freakin’ amazing deal if we both ate there for lunch.

Royal India kept the same employees from SOI so we were happy to see that. Service is quick and water is constantly being refilled.

IMG_0078 (1280x960) IMG_0077 (960x1280)

 – Left: salad, sauteed veggies, and ?; Right: chutneys, mixed pickles, raita

Nothing special here – salad looked sad and depressing. But I’m a huge fan of their mint and tamarind chutney.

IMG_0079 (1280x960)

– Fried potatoes (?), onion bhaji, basmati rice, and Pulao rice

We didn’t try the deed fried potatoes b/c they looked a bit stale. But the fried onions were nice – crispy and well seasoned.

IMG_0081 (1280x960)

 – Aloo matar, Pakak Paneer, Cabbage Masala, and Veggie Korma

The cabbage masala was a bit too mushy for me.

IMG_0083 (1280x960)

– Karahi Chicken, Chicken masala, Keema Matar, and tandoori chicken

IMG_0085 (1280x960)

 – Dessert station

IMG_0086 (1280x960) IMG_0087 (960x1280)

I got a little bit of everything so everyone could see. The tandoori chicken isn’t very good – it’s incredibly dry.

IMG_0088 (960x1280)IMG_0089 (1280x960)

 – Left: Paneer; Right: hot, fresh Naan

It’s funny b/c I don’t really eat Indian food all that often b/c it’s something that I didn’t necessarily grow up eating. But sis likes Indian food so she’s the one that kinda got me interested in trying more stuff. So when I first heard of paneer (fresh, soft cheese), I was skeptical. But you know what – I REALLY like paneer. It doesn’t even taste like cheese (maybe that’s why I like it?). It, to me, tastes like really good squishy tofu (covered in curry or spinach or whatever).

My only complaint with this AYCE item is that there wasn’t enough paneer in the tray. I only managed to get 3 pieces of paneer while sis got zero (she personally doesn’t like paneer anyways).

IMG_0092 (960x1280) IMG_0098 (960x1280)

The naan here is good. They give each table a basket of freshly made naan during the AYCE lunch. The waiter told us that they now brush it w/ butter (versus being brushed with oil in the past). The bread has a nice chew to it and I personally like the crispiness of the bottom. The naan itself doesn’t have much flavor to it so using it to soak up the curry sauce is the best way to utilize this gratis bread 🙂

IMG_0090 (1280x960)

– Chicken masala

They do a nice job w/ this curry (especially for the buffet). The chicken pieces (I think they use both white and dark meat) are tender and the curry is flavorful. This is my favorite curry here.

IMG_0091 (1280x960)

– Veggie Korma

This wasn’t something that I’d initially wanted to try but sis said I’d like it. And she was right. The korma sauce was rich and creamy. And I loved how they used broccoli stems in this dish.

IMG_0100 (960x1280) IMG_0101 (1280x960)

– Indian donut (?)

I’m sorry but they didn’t have this dessert labeled and we have NO clue what this is (but we’ve seen it at pretty much every Indian buffet we’ve visited). But if you look at the buffet tray of this dessert, you can see that it bathes in some sort of sugar water. It looks like it was originally deep fried then set in the sugar water to soak up the flavors. Needless to say, the bathing of something crunchy in liquid makes me anxious so this dessert isn’t really my cup of tea. It tasted like a soggy cinnamon churro to me (which I think some people might like).

So, what was the total for this lunch excursion …

IMG_0105 (960x1280)

: Total = $1.44

So it pretty much cost us $11.44 ($10 yelp deal + sales tax) to eat as much as we wanted to at a cool Indian restaurant for lunch (we tipped about $5 though). Not bad yo.

I was speaking to the waiters and I asked how everything was going. When I used to visit SOI, I remember the owner being a really humble man. He always had a smile on his face and he just made people feel welcomed. The waiter said that owner sold it to a family member so the recipes are about the same but amped up a bit. And when sis was reading the main menu, she gasped ‘OMG, this place is in the UTC mall!!” We were shocked b/c we’ve tried the Indian food at the UTC food court but didn’t love it (granted, it’s FOOD COURT food) but sis thought she could taste the similarity in their curries now.

The dinner prices here are still high. I think the chicken masala goes for $18.

But I would highly recommend trying this restaurant. It’s incredibly affordable for lunch and you can use the yelp deal for dinner to help w/ the cost. And with the new remodel, this would make an excellent place to take someone for (romantic) dinner.

Royal India – Del Mar

3860 Valley Ctr Dr
San Diego, CA 92130
Neighborhood: Carmel Valley

(858) 792-1111
Lunch Buffet 11a-2:30p


7 thoughts on “Royal India ($9.99 AYCE lunch special) – Del Mar, CA

  1. The first couple of times I had Indian food, I really liked it. And the last time I had it, I got so sick. I have no idea what ingredient I got sick from. It was an “Indian Buffet” night at culinary school. Students (from another class) prepared various Indian dishes for other students and faculty to come try. Later that night, I started feeling really sick and nauseous. I threw up at least 20x that night until the next morning. I’ve never gotten that sick from eating anything before. And after that night, I was hesitant to try it again. I know I should be more open minded, but I still wonder what it was in the varied dishes that made me sick as donkey. I don’t have any food allergies that I know of lol. Maybe certain things just don’t agree with me. I wish I knew what it was though so that I can avoid dishes with that certain ingredient cuz I do kind of miss eating Indian food, but don’t want to risk getting sick again.

    1. Hi MK,

      Wow – do you remember what Indian dishes you tried from the students?! Maybe it was bad meat or something? Regardless, I would totally be traumatized by the experience too!!! Did anyone else from class get sick as well?

      I wonder if there’s a way for you to slowly ‘ease’ yourself into trying Indian food again – maybe go to a nice Indian restaurant with a bunch of friends and try a small bite of each dish? And just have faith that a restaurant will do a better job at making a dish than your classmates 🙂

      1. I don’t remember. I think I was the only one that got sick. When my class made it, it was good and I was fine. But I guess this other class sucked lol. I was thinking it could have been food poisoning (maybe old/bad ingredients or not washing hands), but who knows~ It could have been just something not agreeing with me.

        But your idea of “easing into it” doesn’t sound bad….some day..maybe~

        1. Hi Miss Kim,
          You seriously made me upchuck my coffee just now when you wrote ‘or not washing hands‘…I can handle the thought of bad ingredients giving someone food poisoning. But dirty hands???? I’ve *never* even thought of that before. So NOW, if I ever get food poisoning, I’m going to remember your comment 🙂 Blech, ick, blechhhhh – dirty hands….

          1. Lol..sorry. But I will be honest. The things you see in many professional kitchens are going to make you think twice about where you dine. I have seen many gross things. It’s more common than you think, people not washing their hands when handling food. It grosses me out and pisses me off when I see that. You know what is another HUGE pet peeve of mine? It’s when chefs taste test food with their fingers. So many of them do that when they are running around and don’t have time to look for the nearest spoon. Lol. You should visit a professional kitchen one day and see. I’m not saying everyone does this. But it’s more common than most people think. OMG it seems like Curtis Stone has a habit of licking his fingers while cooking. He is hot..hotter in person. But it sucks that he sets a bad example of sanitary practices.

          2. Hahaha – stop. You’re freaking out someone with a germ phobia ! I’ve always seen the chefs (on tv) dipping their middle finger into a cauldron of sauces to taste test them and wondered 1) doesn’t that burn your finger and 2) *how* do you sanitize that finger after. But thank you for your professional .02c 🙂

Leave a Reply