Once again Yelp tricked me into going to this restaurant. While Yelp seems to often be useful to me in terms of finding a decent place to eat whenever I am in California, it seems to not be working right here in Toms River New Jersey. I just don't understand it. How on earth the strangely stinky rice in this place be hailed as "very amazing food"? Did I suddenly become taste blind today? This is the most awful rice I had tasted in my life. I love Greek, Iranian, Lebonese, Israeli and Indian food and I went to them a lot back in Los Angeles. But I couldn't eat this rice here. I have no idea what spice was used here but it just didn't work for me. The rice smelled like urine, which reminded me of the preserved bamboo shoots that weren't treated well in some lousy Chinese restaurants. I hate the ammonia smell that is often found in preserved and canned bamboo shoots which some incompetent Chinese chefs didn't know how to treat properly to rid of the smell before cooking. This rice smelled the same awful effect. Was I supposed to pour the "white sauce" that was so highly praised on Yelp onto my rice to cover up the urine smell? That so-called homemade white sauce tasted like a store bought "ranch" salad dressing to me, only blander. I didn't use the sauce at all because I'm not a fan of putting store bought ranch salad dressing on steamed balsamic rice. I took one sniff at the rice and I just couldn't eat it.
The tikka chicken kebab and the tendoori chicken kebab had the kind of bad texture that "old meat" possesses. I want to know for how long these chicken kebabs had been sitting in a tub of marinate in the freezer??? The chicken didn't taste good to me, it tasted too aged for my taste. These kebabs are so very different from the fresh ones I had in the many Middle Eastern restaurants in California. This restaurant had the worst kebabs I ever had. The salad was kind of wilted and not crisp either. I used the "white sauce" on the salad instead but I still didn't like it. I hate limp salads. This chicken plate cost me $10 and I tossed away 99% of it. Yelp was raving for the low price, but low price and bad food equal bigger waste of money in my case.
My falafel ($4.00) were extremely dry and hard. They were tasteless. The frying oil was too old, and the falafel tasted too old. Just how many times were these falafel deep fried in order to become so hard, dark and dry? As for the hummus, it was too sour and watery for my taste, which was worse than the hummus bought from the grocery stores. Again, these falafel were hailed on Yelp as the best in New Jersey. Seriously? Does New Jersey really not have better falafel than these???? May be this is why New Jersey has been for years, ranked the state in America where there is the highest number of exodus annually? How can people not flee when these falafel are the best in the state? Again, I took a bite and tossed the rest of them.
I love garlic Naan ($2.00) and I never could have enough of it. The garlic Nann here in this restaurant was okay. It was baked on my order from the frozen dough so it took quite a long time. To me, it was a tad drier, harder, and blander in taste than the ones I love. It wasn't as garlicky to my taste. But it was tolerable to me so I ate it all.
The baklaka ($2.50) also tasted okay to me. I think it was the best dish I tried in this restaurant. This was indeed the best piece of pastry I had since I have been here in Toms River all these months. But I had much better baklaka else where. This baklaka tasted acceptable to me so I also ate it all.
The bottled drink ($2.50) was the one I'm very familiar with because I often bought it in grocery stores. I like low-calorie flavored bottled water. I of course can buy this drink for less at the grocery stores. It's nice that this drink is available at this restaurant though. But this drink can't make me come back to this restaurant again. Neither can the baklava and the naan because I can easily get the similar quality baklava and naan in the grocery stories also. I think my camera didn't do the food justice because the photos look better than they tasted.
The many 5 stars reviews on Yelp just don't match the traffic of this restaurant when I was there. My colleague and I were the only people there. There was no one else eating there the whole time we were there. There were a couple people walked-in for take out. The staff were just sitting around and chatting loud. The cook and the cashier both looked bored and unmotivated. It took a very long time for us to get our food. I was surprised by the emptiness of this restaurant because there are so many people raving how amazing the restaurant is. The vibe and traffic there certainly matched the quality and freshness of the food though.
Restaurant: Royal Grill 37
Address:10 NJ-37, Toms River, NJ 08753