This post is a bit different from previous threads on Indian restaurants, such as "Indian restaurants near Montgomery County" so I thought it best to put it in its own subject thread.
Although there are two other Indian restaurants within 1/2 to one mile of it, Gateway to India distinguishes itself by the fine dining ambience it accords customers. The setting consists of expensive looking table cloth on each table, napkins and silverware one would get at a fine restaurant, entrees displayed at the lunch buffet in beautiful bowls, and quiet Indian music playing in the background.
The spicing of the entrees is done in a more refined (delicate) way, too. The saffron-flavored basmati rice is perfectly done and has a very clean (non-oily) taste.
At my last visit, I learned that the previous servers who presented a very refined presence had left. Current servers are of a different school. Let's just say, adequate.
First the negative ... dessert selection was limited to two items, one a custard which tasted like sweetened thick milk with bits of canned fruit (pineapple and apples), and the other a small pastry squares of an Indian sweet nature.
The other negative concerns the containers for the salad items. Given that everything else is so exquisitely displayed, placing salad items in plastic containers seemed out of place.
That's it for the negatives.
I was blown away by the selection and quality of foods at the lunch buffet. Lunch buffet always offers tarka dal, vegetable soup, tandoor chicken, and pakoras (which contained various kinds of vegetables, not just one kind, and the batter tasted like spiced besan flour). Additional entrees on the recent day I visited consisted of palak paneer, vegetable korma (loads of different kinds of vegetables in a sauce), bhindi masala, chicken jalfrezzi, and a lamb dish. The salad section consisted of many different kinds of salad items.
The salad tasted like the vegetables had just been removed from the refrigerator after having just been bought. The lettuce, cucumber, and other vegetables were crisp and tasted very fresh. There were at least ten other items to add to the salad, like roasted sunflower seeds, chick peas, small bits of chicken. I just wish they offered red onions instead of white onions for the salad.
The vegetable soup is like nothing I have found anywhere else. Oddly enough, I found no other patrons even trying the soup this day.
The chicken in each of the two chicken dishes tasted extremely fresh and moist, not "roasted" as is the norm at some other restaurants.
The other vegetable dishes were mildly spiced but had enough flavor to be very satisfying. I could have made an entire meal out of the palak paneer and rice, but I did want to sample everything, and on this day, even taking a small amount of everything overflowed on my plate and my stomach. It seemed that each dish had a fair amount of salt, and the combination of everything may have made the saltiness of the tarka dal seem like way too much to my liking.
In addition to the naan at the buffet area were papadams. Delicious dosas were brought to the table, also. They were filled with a rich mixture of potatoes and some other ingredient I could not place. A mint tasting chutney also accompanied the dosa, whose consistency was crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. They are made fresh almost at table side.
On the day I visited Gateway to India, at noon there were very few customers (unlike the nearby other restaurants), but after 12:30 the room filled up more, but was still not crowded.
All I can think of regarding the lack of popularity of this restaurant is that due to their further out location, and the lack of any advertising, the only people who know of this restaurant are those that have heard about it through friends or who have stumbled upon it by "accident." The Westgate Shopping Center seems to be one of the last such shopping centers in the commercial stretch of Lancaster Avenue after the turn from Rte. 29.
Due to the rich nature of each dish, I could see how satisfying a dinner would be here, consisting just of a few dishes, such as one entree with the saffron flavored rice, a side dish, and a drink.
When I go to other Indian restaurants, I normally don't have a problem placing items on my plate, because I seldom desire to sample everything, but on almost every visit to Gateway to India, everything is so appealing and worthwhile. On this day, I could not apportion everything in a desirable way there was so much!
A previous poster described Aman's as offering the best lunch buffet for this kind of food. I don't believe there is any other such restaurant within 20 minutes of that location in Norristown, so if one is in the mood for Indian food, having a large variety of healthy prepared foods is desirable. It's interesting to note where restaurants put their emphasis.
At Gateway to India, for the lunch buffet, the emphasis is on the entrees, soup, and salad, for excellence. Tasting this food at the lunch buffet encourages one to come back for dinner to taste other foods that are not served at lunch.
And last, keep in mind, that the price for their lunch buffet is nearly the same as other nearby restaurants, and at this place, you get to enjoy fine dining. You will find that the flavoring of food is different from that found at Royal India and Himalyan, both of which do a decent job.