After reading good things about Raj Cafe, we visited it in March 1999 and and we weren't disappointed. The place is a very small cafe, holding perhaps 5 or 6 tables, in Solano Avenue. The ambiance is nice enough, though it's really very crowded and at rush time, one may have to wait for a table for quite a while.
We had keeman nam (nam bread stuffed with ground lamb) and spicy beef somosas for appetizers. I really liked the somosas, the shell was crispy and the beef inside well seasoned (though not really spicy). Mike's was half cold, however - he thinks maybe they were cooked and microwaved before serving. In any case they were good.
For dinner we pretty both ordered similar dishes. He had the meatball curry, and I a chicken dish of similar description. I don't remember the exact names, however. The meatball dish was great - the chicken one less so.
I also had a very good, not too sweet rose water lassi - never had had one before and I enjoyed it.
What was probably the best was the effort put by the lone waitress and the cheff. The waitress was very attentive, always making the extra effort. When the keema nam we ordered didn't come out well (it was sort of flat), they gave it to us to munch on while we waited for another much better version. They made a mistake on the order of the table next to ours, so they brought the right dish for free as well.
The mistakes, I think, were because they were much more busy than usual
Anyway, it was all in all a very pleasant dining experience and we will go again!
We revisited Café Raj for lunch on a Saturday in October 1999. Again, we had a very positive experience. We shared an order of keema nam ($3) as an appetizer, and the lamb filled bread was very good and tasty - specially with the coriander sauce that came with it. For lunch, we ordered the Kofta Zafran (spiced beef meatballs in a curry saffron sauce with nuts, $8.25), the Lamb Shai Korma (boneless lamb in a curry-saffron sauce with almonds, pistachios and cashews, $8.95) and the Chicken Tikka Masala (tandoori grilled boneless chicken ina tomato ginger garlic sauce,l $7.95). We ordered all the dishes medium - and they seemed to be in the mild side. The orders come with rice (presumably basmati, but it seemed short grained and it wasn't as good as it could be), naan (rather tasteless by itself, but good with the curries) or chapatti.
The chicken was a big disappointment. Instead of the smokey bite-sized pieces we're used to getting at other restaurants, these were rather large pieces of chicken covered with sauce. The chicken wasn't very moist, and it was a tad chewy, and not at all smokey-tasting, and the sauce was rather bland.
The Kofta were better, generous portions in a hearty sauce.
The lamb, however, was absolutely delicious. The pieces of lamb were tender, and the fragrant curry was a delight - I definitely would recommend it.
The portions were very generous, and we brought leftovers with us. They also do take-out, so we'll probably be ordering that lamb again. Service, again, was very good.
(corner of Stannage)