When we think of India, we think of many things such as emerging economic power, a major IT destination, festivals such as Holi, and food. Indian food has such a wide global following that it is difficult to imagine a major American city with some Indian restaurants and not surprisingly, Boise City, Idaho is also home to many restaurants of which the best may be Taj Mahal restaurant. I have noticed Taj Mahal restaurant is known by almost every fan of Indian food in Boise City and almost everyone has to say good things about it. Even though its location is quite good, most people went there after hearing good reviews from friends and family members. Taj Mahal has become a popular place because it respect both Indian and American cultures in its product offerings and atmosphere.

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Many countries have famous monuments. America has Statue of Liberty, France has Eiffel Tower, and Egypt has Giza Pyramids. The most famous monument in India may be the Taj Mahal which a Muslim Indian Emperor built as a gift to his wife. Almost every politician or royalty that visits India on a state visit make it a point to have their picture taken at Taj Mahal. Thus, the moment most people first hear about Taj Mahal restaurant or they visit it, they know the inspiration behind the name of the restaurant. Even the restaurant’s logo features Taj Mahal.

I have visited some other Indian restaurants and they do not always look good from outside. In addition, they also have quite common interior which shows the main focus of the restaurant owners is on food. But this is not the case with Taj Mahal restaurant. The owners have invested significantly in the building which is why not only the interior looks unique among neighboring establishments but special attention has also paid to the red interior. It is clear that the owners understood environment is important part of the overall dining experience. The interior creates quite a romantic feeling because it is mostly red though some walls are in other colors, too such as yellow. In addition, the owners have also paid attention to lighting. The walls have pictures and paintings that pay tribute to Indian culture and create quite an authentic experience of little India. Taj Mahal restaurant is not only appealing to families and people who come with friends but also to romantic and married couples. One another architectural feature of Taj Mahal restaurant which sets it apart from other Indian restaurants in Boise City is that there is also option for outside dining. This option is usually not available in most Indian restaurants.

As far as Indian food is concerned, it is as Indian as possible while also appealing to westerners. Indian food is usually quite spicy or sweet but the food at Taj Mahal restaurant is spicy enough to be Indian but not so spicy that most non-Indians cannot eat it. On the other hand, sweet food items are mostly authentic because it is more challenging for foreigners to eat spicy stuff as compared to sweet stuff. Taj Mahal restaurant focuses on both buffet and made-to-order food items. People who go for lunch usually have buffet in mind while the restaurant offers individually-priced food items during the rest of the hours. There are lot of options for both meat lovers and vegetarians. Taj Mahal restaurant even offers gluten-free items which shows the owners have put a great deal of planning in the menu to appeal to as many customers as possible.

Some of my favorite food items at Taj Mahal restaurant are tandoori chicken, chicken tikka masala, alu kofta, fish biryani, and shrimp curry. I also love the Indian traditional drink lassi which is usually made of milk, yoghurt, and water and may either be sweet or spicy. The lassi can also be flavored such as mango-flavored. Taj Mahal restaurant does a great job of appealing to customers from different cultural backgrounds as there is also wide selection of wine and beer in the menu. It may be appropriate to think of Taj Mahal restaurant as both a restaurant and a bar.

When I visit other Indian restaurants, the customers are mostly Pakistani, Indians, and Bangladeshis and there may be 10-20 percent customers from other cultures on a good day. But the customer base of Taj Mahal restaurant is quite diverse. It is not uncommon for me to see as many people from other cultures as there are from India and Pakistan etc. In fact, there are more foreigners than Pakistanis and Indians at times.

I really enjoyed the dishes I tried during my visit to the Taj Mahal. I ordered a mango lassi to start with and it was so good I thought I should have saved it for dessert! For an entree, i had a red curry vegetarian dish served with rice and naan bread. I had to stop myself from eating too much of the naan bread because I could easily have eaten it and nothing else, it was so fresh and tasty. Finally, for dessert, I ordered rice pudding. It was spectacular, easily my favorite part of the meal. But then again, dessert is usually my favorite part of any mea.
Taj Mahal restaurant has differentiated itself not on the basis of food and environment only but also the customer service. First of all, the chef often makes ready-to-order food items even though it may mean a little longer wait. Taj Mahal restaurant has also become a better place for special events such as birthdays and it is easy to tell when someone may be having a birthday party because Taj Mahal restaurant provides them with Indian turban to wear during the party. Similarly, the restaurant owners also win the heart of customers by offering complimentary dessert on such special occasions.

Even though Taj Mahal restaurant is a place best enjoyed in the company of family and friends, it is also fine to go alone. One may strike a conversation with another sole visitor or can simply watch the TV to get a taste of Indian popular culture such as Indian movies and songs. Or if everything else fails, one can have a conversation with the bartender though many sole visitors try to keep them entertained through their smart phones also.

Indian restaurants are often quite cheap and affordable and even though Taj Mahal restaurant is also cheap, it is relatively more expensive than other Indian restaurants. But this is not surprising because it is clear that the owners’ operating costs are also higher than the competition. In addition, Taj Mahal restaurant also focuses on service and distinct customer experience which most other Indian restaurants rarely. One reason for relatively high prices may also be the popularity of Taj Mahal restaurant as it gives owners more power over prices. If other Indian restaurants are McDonald’s or KFC, Taj Mahal restaurant could be thought of as Chipotle in terms of prices. Even though the total spending amount may vary from person to person, my experience is that the average cost comes to around $25 per person excluding wine and beer. But the menu is so extensive that it is not difficult to incur an average cost of over $50 per person.

India is famous for many things one of which is food. Indian food is popular all over the world and Indian restaurants can be found in most large and small cities. The most famous Indian restaurant in Boise City may be Taj Mahal restaurant which has differentiated itself on the basis of not only food but also customer service and overall interior environment. Taj Mahal restaurant focuses on the needs of both eastern and western customers. In addition to food, there is also wide selection of wine and beer. Taj Mahal restaurant is also a great place for special events such as birthdays and the prices may be higher than other Indian restaurants but they are justified given the overall experience most customers have.

    References
  • Taj Mahal. 2014. Web. 6 Dec. 2015. http://tajmahalofboise.com/
  • Taj Mahal, Boise. Northwest Food News. 2015. Web. 6 Dec. 2015. http://www.nwfoodnews.com/2010/01/15/taj-mahal-boise/