Thursday, August 11, 2011 of Indian flavours?

Very few cities with a small population like ours can boast a really good Indian restaurant, let alone two very good Indian restaurants located right around the corner from each other!

Taj has recently opened at a location that has been renovated and updated to the tune of almost a half a million dollars (or more!) so I thought it would be a good idea to compare it to Raja, which I have to admit is a favourite of mine for take-out when I just don't feel like cooking, or when I'm in the mood for something spicy.

Now that I have tried both places a couple of times I have to admit that the decision is a very difficult one to make, but quite frankly, I was impressed with the food at Taj - though the price is more than a little frightening.

Even with the enticement of a 25% discount, lunch was in the $70 range, plus tax and tip (for two).  I always enjoy the value at Raja for lunch, you can get away with a delicious and filling lunch for under $35 (also for two).  Perhaps the two places are better compared at dinner time - as the menu at Taj seems to be the same all day.

Service at both places is incredibly attentive, I always feel treated like royalty at Raja and the young woman serving at Taj is quite capable and charming.

As for the menu: for the less adventurous types, the Butter Chicken at Taj seems to have more depth of flavour than Raja but in turn I prefer the Korma at Raja - maybe it's the cardamom in the rice that intensifies the flavour?

Tandoori chicken is good in both places but I think Taj's wins with increased moistness.

For those more adventurous palates I would certainly recommend the vindaloo at Taj - great balance of spice and flavour, and the heat certainly builds as you get farther into the dish!

Overall, I feel that I will most likely stay loyal to Raja, and I have to admit that this decision is heavily weighted on value for dollar and naan.  The naan bread at Raja is more tender - though if you prefer somewhat crispy naan then Taj is for you.

Perhaps I was also swayed by the washrooms at Taj which seem to have been a last minute thought in the massive renovations that took place this spring.

Good luck to Taj, competition raises the bar for all of us!


  1. I have been known to check out the washroom before eating at some restaurants (and being swayed). Thanks for the comparison... I was really hoping that Taj's prices would be less than Raja (the only thing that keeps me from eating there more often is it is quite expensive).

    As a vegetarian, Indian restaurants give the ultimate in selection and I love the spices too. My favourite Indian restaurant (although not in Stratford) is Masala Bay in Waterloo (behind Symposium). It is family run and they always have our drinks ready as soon as we are seated (I guess we must visit a lot).

  2. I have to say the food at Taj is the best indian food I have ever eaten. The produce was very fresh, the chicken was all white meat, and the non of the curry dishes were oily. Very fresh and clean food. Although the price seemed to be a little bit more than Raja, the portion of food I received and the quality was much better. It reminded me of a home cooked meal. Also the naan I had at Taj was simply the best, it was nice and fluffy and tasted amazaing! I also like the warm feeling I get when dining at Taj, the atmosphere is beautiful. I have never dined in at Raja, but I have had their takeout, and I was not very impressed.. I ordered a chicken tikka masala and it was covered in oil, and the naan and salad I received with it did not look very aappitizing either.

  3. I have also dined at both.
    Raja is by far my favourite restaurant in town, and I'm there at least once a month. I can not for the life of me understand why anyone would consider Taj over Raja--especially for lunch.
    Raja serves a savory and spicy chutney platter and basket of crispy khakhara bread before every meal. My lunch (of chicken vindaloo -- I like it spicy!) consists of a lovely feast of fresh salad greens, fluffy rice, masala and the main dish, with a basket of naan on the side. All for $13. There is always too much food to eat, but it's so darn good, you want to consume every morsel.
    Not so at Raj. For a substantial amount more, Taj offers nothing to whet the appetite with the meal unless you want to add it to your bill. The same goes for the naan. It's an extra add-on. The vindaloo was nowhere near as earthy,savory, spicy and fragrant as what I am consistently served at Raja.
    The service at both places is wonderful, but at Raja, I always feel as if we are the only ones in the restaurant. At Taj, we actually WERE the only ones in the restaurant....
    And the washrooms at Raja!! I could move in quite comfortably--much larger (and definitely cleaner) than the average apartment in Toronto.
    Our bill at Raja for lunch is always around $20 each. At Taj it was well over $35 and we didn't have near as much food.
    I will happily stay loyal to Raja. Taj was a nice enough place to visit, but I won't be back for seconds.

  4. I've only eaten at Taj once (for lunch in a group so a number of dishes) and Raja many times. Raja has great food and excellent service. If you've had a bad take-out experience - let the owner know. I am sure he would appreciate the opportunity to correct the situation.

    There was nothing wrong with the Taj - food was good, service OK, but friendly. Too me, it did nothing better than Raja to justify my business over Raja and was not different enough to even consider it a change of pace (over Raja).

    $.5mill in for a second expensive (relatively) Indian restaurant with little differentiation (IMO) in a small seasonal town. Who approved that? And can I pitch you one of my ideas?

  5. Taj Restaurant in under a new owner ship since July 2013 and now serves one of the delicious Indian Buffet in Stratford Lunch only at $14.99 and Dinner at $19.99 and the price remains the same regardless of weekend or weekdays. Many more choices and authentic north Indian cuisine. Prices are very reasonable lunch buffet for 2 will come to $33.88 after taxes can't beat that and the service is top notch. relaxed family atmosphere where you can bring your young ones without any worries. Come out and try authentic north Indian flavors. Guaranteed to change your opinion!!