Loving Lehja

After falling in love with Chef Mel Oza’s savory mango glazed prawns at Broad Appétit a few weeks ago I was determined to experience more of his cooking by dining at Lehja sometime in the near future. So this past Sunday when one of my blogger turned real life friends, Cara of Cashews and Hummus, came to visit I knew exactly where to take her for dinner.

Cara arrived later in the afternoon so she and I went shopping for a bit and then met up with Isaac and our friend Keerti for dinner at Lehja.

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Once we got inside and saw the swanky, modern decor I was even more excited for our meal.

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So chic!

The menu offers a variety of dishes from different regions of India with classics like saag paneer, dal and chicken tikka masala but they also offer contemporary, fusion style dishes. I had read a little bit about the restaurant online and perused the menu before we arrived but still had plenty of questions for both Keerti (who’s from India) and our server, Sunny.

As it turns out Sunny is one of the managing partners and very passionate about the restaurant’s concept and menu. He was extremely friendly, answered all of our questions and helped those of us who were less familiar with the Indian dialect figure out what dish would best fit with our tastes.

Sunny described the menu as Indian food without the guilt and mentioned that there aren’t any fried items on the menu. I was impressed! Isaac on the other hand was like, “Where are the samosas?” True story.

The table decided to start with a bottle of Grüner Veltliner, a peppery white wine from Austria that pairs well with most foods and an order of chaat, a small snack plate Inspired by the street foods stalls of India.

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The chaat of the day featured regular chickpeas, black chickpeas, other sprouted beans, onions, spices and several sauces including one that was yogurt based. It was delicious!

I told Sunny about my experience at Broad Appétit and how much I loved the prawn dish and before we knew it the chef sent out another appetizer for the table, the fishermen style prawns.

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The shrimp were cooked in a coastal onion spice blend and served with a pineapple basil chutney.

After such delicious appetizers I couldn’t wait to get my main course. I had a hard time deciding but ended up with one the contemporary dishes, the portobello-paneer eggplant “tournedo” with a sesame eggplant puree and sweet corn-carrot sauté.

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The presentation was beautiful and the taste was even better. I was once again awed by the chef’s innovative technique!

Everyone else at the table was equally impressed…

On the table:

  • Keerti’s dish – Andhra Style Chicken Curry – Aromatic Chicken Curry from Andhra Pradesh, Chilies, Curry Leaves, Tamarind
  • Cara’s dish – Crab & Scallop “MelJol” – Seared Scallops and Lump Crab Simmered in Nigella-Mace-Tomato Sauce
  • Isaac’s dish – Bengali Salmon Jhol – Salmon Chunks simmered in Mustard-Panchporan Curry Sauce

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I tried the the crab & scallop dish as well as the salmon and both were packed with flavor and overall quite lovely. Word around the table was that the chicken curry was delicious as well. Keerti really liked it although he did mention that his mom is from Andhra and makes the best chicken curry ever. No one can compete with mom’s cooking, but if your mom happens to be from anywhere other than India, you’ll probably think it’s the best. 😉

We finished up our meals and soon after another dish was sent from the kitchen. <– It was our lucky night!

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We were all pretty full, but you can always make room for dessert, especially when it’s housemade Kulfi, a pistachio and cashew based ice cream.

Let’s not kid ourselves – I always have room for ice cream.

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We all ended the evening with a mug of coffee or tea while discussing how awesome our meal tasted and how great the service was.

And as it turns out Isaac didn’t even miss his beloved samosas. 🙂 Needless to say, we have a new favorite Indian restaurant in Richmond and we’ll definitely be visiting Sunny again soon.

I hope everyone is having a great week thus far. After a weekend of indulging in delicious food I was more than ready to get back to my BFL workout routine and eating clean. I have some fun recipes coming up this week so stay tuned for those.

Question of the day – Have you ever been to a contemporary Indian style restaurant? This was my first experience so I’m interested to know if there are many out there.

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    21 comments
  1. I have actually never been, but after seeing those pictures I most certainly want to! 🙂 Everything looks so good! They say we “eat with our eyes” first…well there’s no doubt that this resturant has us covered in that respect. Yum Yum Yum!

  2. Okay, I love this place already too! I have never been to a modern Indian restaurant before, but every time I travel I always get Indian food somewhere as it is so rampant everywhere else in the world but in the states it seems. Thanks for sharing! I’m looking forward to checking it out.

  3. sounds like a more than impressive visit! and after our fabulous food at broad appetit i am super excited to go there too. sharon has requested this for her bday dinner so i’m thinking it’s in order soon – yummmm!

  4. I always love it when the decor matches the quality of the food – that looks so fun and delicious!

    We don’t have any modern Indian cuisine yet in Utah, but we do have some great Indian restaurants – we’re always a couple of years behind the trends!

  5. i’ve never been to a contemporary indian restaurant…im sure its delicious though! all i know is, ‘standard’ indian food is sooo good! i love chicken tikka masala and obviously a big pile of naan!

  6. I *love* Indian food – and after my fiance and I spent 2 weeks in India last spring we were super excited to try out a new contemporary Indian spot that had just opened up downtown… unfortunately we weren’t that impressed. It seemed like, in trying to make Indian dishes more contemporary and upscale, they cut out a lot of the unique flavor and we ended up wishing we’d just gone to India House 🙂 But it sounds like the place you went to is awesome!

  7. This looks like the best Indian experience ever! I don’t think I’ve been to any decent Indian restaurants, so I’m sure contemporary or non-contemporary would kick where I’ve eaten’s butt any day! I clearly want to make a trip to Richmond now though!

  8. Wow that looks like an awesome dinner! I have awesome news (to match your awesome meal): Lehja has gift certificates available on restaurant.com –> $10 for a $25 gift certificate. And once you sign up for restaurant.com they send you deals that are 60-80% off (so $2-4 for a $25 certificate). Julep’s is also on there (and an amazing restaurant).

  9. I’m so glad to hear you had an enjoyable experience there, Brittany! As a matter of fact, yes, I have been to a contemprorary Indian place here in LA. It’s called Gaylord, and I went there for my birthday dinner last year. It was really something. We orderd the “blueberry lassi” and did a taste test with the traditional mango lassi, and the mango lassi won by a longshot. Go figure. 🙂

  10. I absolutely LOVE kulfi! I will ask an Indian restaurant when we walk in if they have it and if not I’m out the door. Many people don’t share my excitement over it, I guess it’s an acquired taste or something.
    The whole meal looks fantastic!

  11. I don’t eat Indian food nearly enough…and certainly not at a restaurant as fabulous as this! Thank you for taking the time to share a moment of your world with me…I was wishing I could take a bite out of your photographs! I hope you are having a wonderful, joyful week. Many blessings and much love!

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