Thursday, September 13, 2012

Taj Mahal, Gungdong--Don't Bother, Eat at 7-11 Instead




Mighty harsh words for a title but at a meal for five totaling a tad over 69,000 won (a price with no beverages), you definitely get a better value at almost any other Indian restaurant in Daejeon or any other restaurant and convenience store for that matter. Granted, we were a tough table with one former restaurant professional and four chefs, but we didn't expect an experience this mediocre.

The samosas pictured above weren't heinous but the crust was a way too hard; you really had to use some muscle to get inside. You could give these a four-foot drop and they wouldn't break. When I asked for some green chutney, I was told that the greenish-white condiment was green chutney. Green chutney is a simple accompaniment comprising cilantro, mint, lemon juice, and often onions. Here is a typical photo of green chutney:



Notice that in the former picture, the electric green quality is remarkably absent. We had six of these for 9000 won. The filling was pleasant but not spectacular or even "really good", just a nice filling wrapped with a pastry that had a texture more akin to plaster of paris.

This was the best part of the meal.

Our table ordered the Non-Vegetarian Family platter priced at 35,000 won. The line up for this was chicken tikka, Butter Chicken, Egg Curry, and wait for it... Beef Curry. Yes, they serve beef; the is first time I have encountered this in an Indian restaurant. We also ordered two additional mutton curries.




Butter Chicken, Beef Curry, and Egg Curry 



In the center was some rice and the rear left had some raw cabbage and next to it was a chicken salad composed of chicken, mayo, and some more raw cabbage. To the right of that was a tomato soup. This platter was served with one piece of anemic naan, which you can see in the picture of the chicken tikka. The naan was barely marked, indicating a low cook temperature. It was also very thin. The factory tortillas you buy at Costco have more heft and flavor than these things.




The chicken tikka was blah. You couldn't even tell you were eating an Indian dish. tasted like salt and pepper chicken sauteed in a pan. The butter chicken had the taste of a cheap canned tomato and you can tell this cheap canned base was the same in the tomato soup.

The beef curry appeared to have the same curry as the mutton curry and would have passed had the beef (as well as the mutton) not been so tough. Would this dish have been nice if the protein was cooked longer? Absolutely, but unfortunately we didn't get that dish. The second mutton curry served (we asked for one with a bit more heat) had an odd bitterness that no one could place. All the chefs were taking tiny spoonfuls trying to identify the odd flavor.

i was told that this place was priced at a moderate level but the mutton curry was 11,000 won. Tandoori chicken (and I doubt that this restaurant actually has a tandoor) was 16,000 for a full order. This pushes the envelope for "moderate". Ganga and Namaste, the two Indian mainstays in Korea are priced higher but their food is exceptional, just like the decor and furnishings. At 15,000 won a curry those two restaurants deliver terrific food in a great atmosphere. If you are looking at price for a comparison, Everest near Dongdaemun Station Exit 3 (an official Daejeon Access favorite place to eat) has curry priced at about 8000 won, tandoori chicken at 13,000 won, and gorgeous Naan.

When the chefs were asked "How would you grade this restaurant?" they all laughed. All of them gave the restaurant a D.

Don't eat here, a place like this should be allowed to die so the bar for Indian food is placed at an acceptable level. There are a lot of other eateries in Gungdong that you can spend your money and not feel that someone has to kiss you first.

Ali Baba's is nice with good value, Nuova Napoli is a great product though expensive for what you get. Go eat there and leave your dreams of having a nice Indian meal in Gungdong exactly there--in your dreams.