Su-Th, 11 AM to 9:30 PM; F-Sa, 11 AM - 10:30 PM
(609) 269-8478 Website Google Maps
Gravitas: Decor: Cost: Proximity:
Paradise is a tiny restaurant in the same strip as the Olive Garden in Mercer Mall on Rt. 1 S on Lawrence. It’s been lavishly decorated, and is the latest location of a 40-restaurant chain based in Edison NJ, spread over 20+ states (6 are in NJ). It specializes in Hyderbadi cuisine, though the menu encompasses dishes from across the sub-continent including an extensive Mughlai selection, and a few southern specialties. All meat served is Halal.
Specialty of the house is biryani: rice cooked with meats and/or vegetables mixed-in (similar to an Indian paella). Illustrated is the Hyderbadi chicken biryani included with a lunch special. The basmati rice was infused with cardamon and hints of other spices, layered with some chicken pieces, and beautifully cooked so that the grains were tender and distinct. Lovely and subtle, but you need to be in the right mood to appreciate it. If you dump the butter chicken curry on top (which many might be tempted to do), its strongly-flavored gravy will completely obliterate the subtle flavors of the biryani.
I ended up eating my biryani slowly, alternating bites with the butter chicken (which was quite good in its own right), soaking up the curry gravy with the naan bread.
There’s no lunch buffet, but you can order a lunch special (as illustrated). In March of 2016, a vegetarian combo was $9.99, chicken $10.99, and goat $12.99. Note the goat is served on the bone (typically including vertebrae), and is annoying to eat if you’re not used to it. In addition to a curry and the biryani, the lunch special includes a “chicken appetizer” (which did not impress, basically breaded, fried chicken bits), a small cup of raita, and dessert (a single ball of gulab jamun). Portions were adequate, though the variety of flavors is much lower than you can achieve at a good lunch buffet such as Myilai Masala’s.
There’s an extensive dinner menu which is all ala carte. Individual entrees range from $8 to $15, which puts it solidly in the “moderate” range, depending on what you order. Vegetarian entrees are clearly marked and abundant, so we’ve tagged this restaurant “Veggie Friendly”. Vegan options are not marked, and many of the vegetarian entrees are prepared with dairy. With some guidance from your server, vegans can probably eat a decent meal here as well.
I love Indian food, and I will probably be back a few times for dinner to sample the items which rarely show up on the menus of other restaurants in the area. It’s open fairly late: until 9:30 every night, and until 10:30 on Friday and Saturday nights. Overall, it’s a nice but not essential addition to the local South Asian restaurant scene.