Greg Bridwell was thrilled to see Taj Indian Cuisine open in downtown Edwardsville.
The 59-year-old FedEx driver developed a taste for Indian food while in the Navy.
"I've been to most Indian restaurants in the St. Louis area, and this is as good as any of them," he said.
Greg is partial to the Tandoori Chicken (bone-in marinated, roasted chicken) and Vegetable Korma (mixed vegetables with cream sauce seasoned with spices and sprinkled with cashews and raisins).
"I love the Fish Pakora," he said. "It's an appetizer. It's very lightly battered, almost like a beer batter. It's just delicious."
Taj opened in October on Main Street, across from Madison County Courthouse, replacing the Lo-Cal Cafe.
Owner Sukhjinder Singh, 55, of Granite City, moved to the United States from Punjab, India, 30 years ago.
The restaurant serves mainly Northern Indian-style food, including lamb, chicken, goat, shrimp and vegetarian entrees, appetizers, soups, salads and breads.
"If people order off the menu, we ask them how spicy they want it," Sukhjinder said. "On the lunch buffet, we have mild food all the time. Anybody can eat it, and some people ask for hot sauce."Tom and Laura Lentz, of Collinsville, have become regular customers in the past three months.
They like the buffet, which includes five vegetarian dishes, three meat dishes, two types of rice and two sweets for $8.99. It's available from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.
"The buffet is different all the time," said Laura, 40, a stay-at-home mom. "So if you come here for lunch, you get to try one or two new items. And the bread ... It's the best Indian bread that I've had in the area."
Sukhjinder lived in California, New York and Michigan before moving to the St. Louis region 17 years ago.
He and his wife, Narinder Kaur, also are in the gas-station business. Family members work both places.
"People are so happy to see an Indian restaurant in Edwardsville," Sukhjinder said. "They used to drive to St. Louis. Now they don't have to anymore."
At a glance
What: Taj Indian Cuisine
Where: 138 N. Main St. in Edwardsville
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily and 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 4:30 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
Handicap accessible: Yes
Information: Call 618-655-0586
On the menu:
Vegetable Korma -- Mixed vegetables cooked with mild cream sauce and sprinkled with cashews and raisins ($12.95)
Lamb Vindaloo -- Boneless lamb cooked with cubed potatoes, onions, tomatoes, fresh cilantro and other spices ($14.95)
Goat Curry -- Goat with homemade sauce and Indian herbs ($14.95)
Chicken Tikka Masala -- Boneless chicken cooked in a tandoor-style oven, then simmered in cream and chef's special sauce ($13.95)
Shrimp Masala -- Shrimp cooked with onions, tomatoes and spices and simmered in cream sauce ($14.95)