Eatery - Royal Khyber (CA) Revisited

Royal Khyber Fine Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

1621 W Sunflower Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92704
Pricing - $$$/$$$$ | Dining - Dressy, Dressy Casual | Cuisine - Indian

[You can read my first review here]. Just a year ago, I wrote a review for this place, complete with poor looking pictures due to my lack of skill with food photography in dim lighting. We were more obnoxious this time around by bringing our LED light but seeing as we were one of the first in the restaurant that day, it didn't seem so intrusive. I know that the last time I wrote, I said that I wouldn't come back to this place but we decided to grab another deal (Groupon this time, was it?) and a buddy to come along just to give the place another try. After all, the last experience wasn't terrible - just pricey.

Well they hadn't brought down their prices from last year really but I think having dined out a lot more in 2012, my price tolerance has gone up. Has it gone up enough to accept "fancy" Indian food? Perhaps not. The food was fairly alright but I think I'll divert my Indian cravings toward hole-in-the-walls for the future. Our garlic naan was crispy and good but hardly garlicky enough. For an appetizer, we shared the Paneer Pakora (paneer pasande stuffed with tangy masala and coated in besan batter), a delightful treat of paneer with an extra zip from the masala beneath the coating.

Duc opted for the Reshami Chicken Tikka from the tandoor, apparently a menu item consisting of boneless chicken breast that had been marinated for 4-6 hours in a yogurt and spices before being cooked in the tandoor. He did like the onions quite a bit that was included on the hot skillet served before us but I think the meat itself was lackluster. It was neither excellent nor bad, so I wouldn't be advising against it but take a good look at the picture to know what you'd be ordering for yourself.


I didn't even realize when I placed my order that I ended up choosing one of the same that we had had before. The Methi Chicken Punjabi (chicken breast sauteed in a gravy of fenugreek, green chili, and yogurt served with rice pilaf and naan) caught my eye again this time and was once again my favorite for the evening. It was spicy in all the right ways, letting me know that it had some spunk but not too much to stop me from drenching my rice with it. The sauce was greatly flavorful and perfect for some naan dipping. Our friend ordered the Tulsi Coconut Curry Chicken (chicken breast in a coconut curry with fresh basil and served with rice pilaf and naan), a dish presented in a similar fashion to my own but widely different in taste. This one was sweeter and though still full of good spices, not as flavorful as the prior dish.

Out of curiosity, we decided to opt for the mango creme brulee that evening, and it was received with mixed reviews from the table. For some odd reason, the two guys were unable to taste the mango in this dessert while it was just about the only thing I tasted. Its fragrance seemed nearly overbearing to me too! Is there a study somewhere of the potency that a mango has on males versus females? Strange indeed. Despite there being a disagreement on just how apparent the mango essence was to the dessert, there was definite agreement that this was not creme brulee at all. It tasted more like a mousse underneath the overbearingly sweet crust. Think about how shocking that was! The presentation was executed well but the actual filling beneath the crust left us unsatisfied. Thus concludes my second and most likely last visit to the establishment (unless I have to go for a function). Sorry, Royal Khyber, you're fairly good but there are better for less dollar signs!

Photography by Duc Duong.