You’re from Bombay, but you moved to Portland, Oregon several years ago. And why wouldn’t you? It’s a wonderful city with many things to offer, as those who live here will readily attest to. From fine food and wine, to numerous entertainment and employment options, to parks, hiking trails and just general points of interest, Portland, Oregon is a destination sought after around the world.
Now, picture this. My good buddy, Rajesh asks me if I want some authentic Indian cuisine. I reply that I have a fear of flying and lack the vacation time for a trip.
Next picture Rajesh laughing, putting his hand on my shoulder and telling me to meet him in Orenco Station on Saturday for lunch.
We meet up and walk to a little restaurant called “Swagats”. “This,” he says, “is the finest cuisine I’ve ever had, Indian or otherwise. Shhh. Don’t tell my mother.” We walk in and a friendly hostess greets us and shows us to our seats.
“This,” says Rajesh, “Is an all you can eat buffet. Eat as if you’re in my home, or I shall be quite offended.” We get up from our seats and make our way to the beautifully ornamented buffet table. Ornate copper serving bowls containing intoxicating fragrant dishes await us. The presentation is exquisite.
The food offered is a cornucopia of culinary delights, from goat to egg curry to Navratan Korma to Saag Paneer and, the house specialty Hyderabadi Dumm Chicken Biriyani. And, for desert, something called Mango Malai.
It’s a busy day, but, like a well-oiled machine, everyone is properly taken care of to. My water is never empty, dirty plates are never left long and the staff is always smiling and attentive. Rajesh and I have a wonderful conversation, which is easy to have over music playing at a reasonable volume. He tells me how he ended up in Portland, Oregon. He tells me Swagats reminds him of home and how it serves the most authentic Indian cuisine this side of Bombay.
As we leave the restaurant, full and satisfied, I am impressed by the observant and welcoming staff, the incredible food, and the relaxing ambiance. Also, at only $11.95 for all you can eat, I am impressed with the prices. Just when I thought it can’t get better, I note that the weekday buffet is even less than weekend price. I am also pleased to learn that Swagats has two other locations, one in Portland and one in Beaverton. As Rajesh and I walk through Orenco Station back to our respective vehicles, I thank him for introducing me to Swagats and to Indian cuisine. He thanks me for joining him in his home away from home.
Swagats, you have a new fan.