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Arches reminiscent of those on the exterior of the Taj Mahal are part of Taj Indian Cuisine's interior decor. The restaurant opens at 5 p.m. today in Fredericksburg.
Taj Indian Cuisine will have daily lunch buffets of such authentic fare as chicken tikka, butter chicken and naan.
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There were three in the city at one point, including Diamond Star of India and Radhuni Indian Restaurant. Currently, the only one left is Guru Fine Indian Cuisine in Central Park.
Rekhi, a longtime fan of Avtar Rathore's Royal India and Royal India Express restaurants in Richmond, decided the time had come for another Indian restaurant in the city.
He will have a soft opening for Taj Indian Cuisine at 5 p.m. today in Greenbrier Shopping Center, and a grand opening at 11 a.m. on Sept. 19. The 3,000-square-foot space is next door to the newly opened Jay's Restaurant & Lounge, and offers indoor and outdoor seating.
"People are more interested in Indian cuisine," said Rekhi, who has hired Rathore as chef and general manager. "We'll offer authentic northern Indian cuisine, like tandoori chicken, butter chicken, kebabs, curries and rice."
Taj Indian Cuisine's name was inspired by India's most famous landmark, the Taj Mahal. The restaurant uses the pointed arches that dominate that spectacular building's exterior as architectural focal points for its interior. They help to separate the entrance from the dining area and frame the bar area.
Taj will offer a daily lunch buffet for $8.99 as well as a dinner buffet for $12.99 on Saturdays. (There was a request for an Indian buffet in the paper's annual Wish List last January.) The buffets will offer a slightly different selection of appetizers, entrees, salads and desserts each day.
Patrons also can order off the dinner menu, where entrees such as tandoori shrimp and lamb pasanda kebab range from $13.99 to $16.99.
"When you say Indian food, most people think hot," Rekhi said. "It's not. It's spicy."
Rathore will grind his own cumin, coriander and other spices, just as cooks typically do in India. The spiciness level of his dishes on the buffet will range from mild to medium, but a house-made sauce will be available for those who want to kick that level up a notch.
"You can get any spice level you want," he said.
Rekhi, who lives in Richmond, is a friend of Rathore's and has been eating at his restaurants for years. His family holds gatherings and wedding receptions there as well.
When Rathore decided to close his two Royal India restaurants because there was too much competition in Richmond, Rekhi suggested opening an Indian restaurant in Fredericksburg.
"I searched the market and it seemed to be an open market for Indian food," Rathore said.
They looked at spaces in Central Park, but decided on the space that once housed Diamond Star of India in Greenbrier Shopping Center. The rent is not only cheaper, they said, but it's right off Interstate 95 and near a number of offices.
"At lunchtime," Rekhi said, "everybody is looking for a quick place to eat."
Taj Indian Cuisine will also offer takeout and catering, and will deliver box lunches to offices, schools and other businesses. The restaurant can even be rented for weddings and parties.
Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407
WHAT: Taj Indian Cuisine
WHERE: 2032 Plank Road, Fredericksburg
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.