Royal Bengal is the Magic Chef

Let's Eat by Kitty Kaufman

Some writers are lucky when it comes to assignments. For me, family-owned businesses are fun: figuring out why they succeed, how they win out over competitors, what keeps them fresh and why we keep coming back. Over and over it turns out that a combination of hard work, service, location and luck work their magic to make one business stand out in a crowded field whether it's restaurant or retail.

Gita and Sadhan Mazumdar, owners of Royal Bengal, found that equation. Four years ago they opened in Cambridge between Central Square and MIT. They've gotten good reviews from the Globe and as you would expect, their Harvard and MIT neighbors swamp the 32 seats. But they are known beyond their Mass Avenue locale as specialists in authentic Bengali and Northern Indian cuisine. And for that and the all-Bengali lunch buffet weekends their fans keep returning.

On this evening Sadhan is in the kitchen, Gita is greeting old friends and Amit, their son, is taking our order. He is patient and gracious like his parents, listing ingredients and preparations. It is no trouble to explain, make suggestions and then tailor our selections. On a busy Saturday night there was time to spend with us.

When I spoke with Sadhan earlier that day he had already finished preparing a buffet for 100 people all before 11 am. He said, "I am like the magic chef." As a small child in Calcutta he watched his mother cook and soon, they cooked together. After, he came to the States working in other people's kitchens. He tells me, "This is my love. It makes me happy in my heart and it is a blessing to me."

We liked our curry, tandoori, samosas, and papadon, the spicy lentil wafers that are perfect for dunking. There are the usual beers along with Taj Mahal, Kingfisher, Magic Hat and wine. Lunch starts at 11:30 and dinner at 3:00 till 11:30. Please note: Mondays, just lunch.

© February 16, 2005 for the City Shopper
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