Royal Indian Oasis
*as per comments below, Royal Indian Oasis has kicked the bucket. (3/25/08)
I have no idea when Indian Oasis added Royal to their name because it’s not like I get out to subway-less Queens so often and it’s not the kind of breaking news bloggers go nuts over. The décor, prices and “Close Tuesday” misuse on the takeout menu are all the same as my last visit nearly two years ago but I imagine the Royal addition would be new management flair.
All I really need to say is that kung pao potatoes are a peerless fusion treat. Neither forced nor fussy, this genius Indian-Chinese invention (Taj Mahal? Great Wall of China? Feh) plays to both cuisines’ strengths without getting silly. (And no, kung pao isn’t completely made up American but it might go by gong bao ji ding in China). When fresh from the kitchen, the potatoes are sweet, slightly crisp and genuinely spicy. Crunchy water chestnut slices and peanuts add texture. Potatoes seem made for this combination. Halved dried chiles coupled with fresh diagonally sliced green ones, generate a heat that surrounds your tongue and sticks around for a good ten minutes.
We also had sliced lamb chilli, Hakka style, which was a strong choice–same for the lollipop chicken called drums of heaven (left). The Hakka noodles weren't anything special. There’s nothing mediocre about Royal Indian Oasis. The food is a shade better than both Tangra Masalas and they don’t go completely overboard with the corn starch thickeners.
I do worry that they aren’t drawing enough customers. There was only one other couple when we came in and only one small group appeared before we left. Perhaps 9:30pm isn’t prime dining time in suburban Queens, but the sushi place with Bennihanna table side cooking, a few doors over, was hopping.
Royal Indian Oasis * 184-22 Horace Harding Expressway, Fresh Meadows, NY