OGDEN — Located in a 30-year-old strip mall, sharing space with a Little Caesars, an Army recruitment center and a Metro PCS, Sitara India might not look like much from the outside.

But don’t let the restaurant’s modest facade fool you — the high-quality cuisine on the inside is exceptional. 

Serving up fresh Indian food at a reasonable price, Sitara has been a beacon for the economical gourmet on south Harrison Boulevard for most of the past decade.

Owned by Mahesh and Indera Kumar and Rajan Safri, the establishment opened at 3585 Harrison Blvd. in 2009.

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 n late 2013, the restaurant closed in Ogden for just over a year, opening for business in Layton. When the original Ogden building became available again in 2015, the ownership group re-opened there for a time — running restaurants in both cities.

Today the Ogden location is all that remains. Steven Whitley, an employee at the restaurant for more than five years, said despite the changes, Sitara’s customer base has stayed devout.

“When we closed our Ogden location, our regular customers there came to Layton,” Whitley said. “Now the customers we gained in Layton come up here. We have some pretty loyal customers.”

Sitara features traditional north Indian cuisine (which includes dishes known for their curries and spices) and food from south India (rice dishes and appetizers). 

Whitley said the restaurant’s most popular dish is probably the chicken tikka masala, which features marinated boneless cubes of Tandoori chicken in a creamy mild sauce.

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The paneer tikka masala (homemade cottage cheese in creamy mild sauce and cashew tomato gravy), the butter chicken (boneless chicken cooked in butter sauce and a combination of Indian spices and herbs) and lamb saag (boneless lamb pieces cooked with spinach and chopped onions in tomato gravy) are also favorites.

The sweet and rich mango lassi drink is also popular. 

“We butcher all of our meats in-house, we make all of our naan bread in-house and all of our deserts are homemade,” Whitley said. “We take a lot of pride in that.”

Whitely says reasonable prices are also a point of emphasis for Sitara.

Appetizers on the menu run from $1.50 to $7.25. The most expensive salad is $6.25 and the priciest item on the entire menu, the fusion biryani, runs at just $12.75. Most dinner items hover near the $10 range.

“It sounds corny to say it, but you really can’t beat our prices,” Whitely said.

The restaurant also serves an $8.99 lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The buffet includes three vegetarian dishes, three non-vegetarian dishes, dessert, naan and a drink. Dishes change daily.

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/MitchShaw.StandardExaminer.

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