Royal Khyber - Costa Mesa
Had a great experience at Royal Khyber recently. The restaurant is replete with fine art, romantic lighting, white table cloths and nice silverware. Very upscale place, but quiet when we arrived at 6:00 pm.
A few customers did trickle in eventually; a pair of ladies with business suits; a trio of 20-somethings in jeans; and an Indian girl in her twenties meeting the family of her Caucasian boyfriend for the first time. I guess she picked the restaurant.
The staff, professionally uniformed was warm and accomodating and refilled out water glasses as soon as it was half empty.
A basket with crispy wafer-like crackers were brought out with two sauce accompaniments. The green sauce was herby, chunky and spicy; the dark burgundy sauce was sweet, sour and hot. (If anyone can educate me on what this was, I'd be appreciative). I almost singlehandedly obliterated the crackers; delicious.
We ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala and the Tulsi Mushroom Matar Khorma, which was described as "fresh mushrooms and peas sauteed in basil cocunut gravy." Both dishes were a la carte, and served in ornate silver serving platters. To accompany the main dishes, we also had two orders of basmati rice pilaf, which had slivers of carrot and something else I could not identify. The rice was fluffy and aromatic, a perfect foil to the tikka masala, which was bright red and had the right level of spice and creaminess. I tasted roasted red peppers in the sauce. The chicken chunks in it were white meat and moist. The mushrooms and peas were tasty too; the brown gravy had a great and powerful blend of spices I've never had before, its hotness tempered by the coconut milk. For dessert, we had the mango creme brulee which had combined the classic custard flavor with the tartness and sweetness of mango. The caramelized sugar crust further balanced the tartness of the custard. All in all, a great meal. I will be back for more someday.