As Raja's seekh kabobs were one of the few clear-cut winners at Tuesday's Belgian Beer Curry Dive, we went to check out a few more things from there menu. It was no fluke, this place has very good tandoori and deserves to take the neighborhood crown from Indian Oven.
We sampled both the boti kabob, and chicken harabara. The lamb was moist and tender, a good version although not a standout. The chicken was wonderful -- it is sort of a variation on chicken tikka with the chicken pieces marinated in mint and cilantro before being cooked in the tandoor. Both came with copius amounts of grilled onions and a bit of romaine and mostly raw julienned carrot. This is the only SF Indian menu I can recall seeing with the harabara preparation -- I had tried it once at a New Jersey Punjabi restaurant, but never seen it here. Raja offers this seasoning also with the lamb, fish and prawns.
We went with a vegetarian friend, and so also tried two different spinach preparations -- palak paneer and the spinach with chick peas. Both were good, with the spinach richer and creamier than the palak paneer from Naan & Chutney across the street. (I personally preferred N&C, but could well be in the minority on this).
In spite of the great tandoori dishes, Raja remains only half full even on Friday evening ... I suspect because the room is a little bit dreary -- very high ceilings and simple decor made it physically less appealing than its popular competitor Indian Oven. Service was friendly and competent, if a bit slow. Oh well, it makes it easier for us to return on the spur of the moment.