We conducted a survey of many restuarants in town, eating the same dishes at each (chicken tika masala, lamb byrani and garlic naan), and assembled a definite best of five out of about twenty we visited. Other nominations?
India Cuisine, Wallingford: It WAS the best, dark flavorful byrani the main hit. Now sadly the kitchen has apparently changed hands, and it was not at all the same on the last visit, middling.
Savoy, Overlake: A big bustling place, but absolutely dynamite flavors. The frequently served buffet is killer, big tender lamb chunks, piles of succulent chicken, lakes of peerless saag. Take out orders use to come in trays that would feed you for a week, but they cut back to tubs recently (no matter, buy more, they're very inexpensive). With the fall of India Cuisine to average status, right now this is the champ in our book.
Moghul Palace, Bellevue: Not anything exceptional to crow about here, but everything is rock solid. The chicken rashimi kabob is a standout. Gets knocked a half point in my book for using too much cilantro, which my teeth reacts to like chewing aluminum foil. I asked for it to be omitted, but each time they added more! Either the chef was offended, or they didn't understand. No matter, I can pick it off.
Bringing up the rear, Shamiana, Kirkland, with sauces that are good, but not outstanding and a little drab looking, and honorable mention to India House, U District, for having dark, rich sauces in spite of its touristy reputation.
There were some others we liked, Chutney's was OK in a non-traditional sense (tandoori trout?), and many we didn't like at all, with thin, vinegary sauces (a Lake City fault) or treatments we thought just paled in comparison (Cedars in the U District, the definite least favorite). A couple of other restuarants that are well thought of we avoided due to an emphasis on veg or east Indian cuisine, as we couldn't get the same dishes to compare.
We also did a quest for lasagna. Italian Spaghetti House got the cheesy nod, honorable mention to the cool treatment at Cafe Lago, but it's not really lasagna, is it? But the best was at Romio's in West Vancouver (no relation). Other planned quests have been cancelled, as my better half just didn't have the culinary dedication necessary to eat the same dish for several months in a row.