Even with the economy in decline, there are probably no less than fifty Indian restaurants in Northern New Jersey (not counting Iselin and Edison) and I am probably underestimating that. With so much competition in that cuisine, it becomes hard for individual Indian restaurants to distinguish themselves from others and to attract a dedicated set of diners, particularly if a restaurant isn’t in the best of locations.
One particularly exceptional Indian restaurant is BHOJ, a small intimate Northern-style Indian restaurant in a secluded strip mall in Elmwood Park. From the outside, it looks like more of an Adult Video store than it does a restaurant, with bright red neon lights against white curtains — and I could see how many people could just pass this place by. Frankly, Rachel and I discovered this place by accident about six or seven years ago, when we happened to be in Elmwood Park shopping for appliances for our kitchen renovation. I was hungry, and I saw the restaurant from the side of the road. We went in, and I am glad we did.
Bhoj is not a unique Indian restaurant in that they are doing dishes that are significantly different than anyone else does — they’re serving probably the same two dozen Punjab-style Northern Indian dishes you’re used to, with a few added things like Dhosas and Kaathi Rolls (which, by the way, are excellent).
The way Bhoj distinguishes itself is it does all these things exceptionally well — the spicing is excellent, they are using fresh ingredients, and they are executing the dishes consistently and with skill. It should also be noted that their portion sizes are very generous, which for this day in age is a big plus because you’ll probably end up taking food home. Plus, I think their Tandoor breads and kebabs are awesome and cooked perfectly (nothing comes dried out) which scores big points when it comes to an Indian place for me.
Bhoj also does a really nice daily and weekend lunch buffet where you can try a whole bunch of their dishes for a set price — its how we first became familiar with the restaurant and probably a good way for you to do as well.
Storefront, which resembles more of a adult business than a restaurant. Still, don’t be afraid to go inside. (2007)
Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
The inside of the restaurant is small and intimate, and owner Sonny presides over everything to make sure each customer is happy. (2007)
The restaurant underwent additional renovation/decoration in 2007/2008 to make it a warmer and more attractive space.
Main Dining Room (2009)
Buffet Area (2009)
A plate from the buffet.
A masala dhosa, a South Indian crepe made from lentil flour and filled with spiced potatoes, accompanied by sambhar dipping soup and tomato and coconut chutneys. (2007)
Whole Wheat Indian Tandoor bread (2009)
Chili Pakora, deep fried battered and spiced chili peppers. HOT!
A trio of Punjab-style dishes: Chicken Korma (Tomato/Yogurt sauce), Shrimp Saag (Creamy, Spicy Spinach sauce) and Bhaigan Bharta (Spicy roasted eggplant cooked in tomato sauce) (2007)
Bhindi (Okra) Masala curry. One of the best renditions I’ve ever had.
Lamb Vindaloo and Channa (chickpea) Masala curries (2009)
Desserts: Gulab Jamun (warm flour/milk pastries), Ras Malai (sweet cottage cheese patties in cardamom milk, left) and Rice Pudding (right) (2007)