Kohinoor Indian Restaurant and Lounge is a family-owned and operated restaurant located in downtown Champaign serving North Indian cuisine. Their signature dishes are prepared with fresh ingredients and spices. CCP spoke with owner Ujjwal Ghimire.
When did Kohinoor open its doors?
We opened here in 2016. It was my dream to open this restaurant and we finally made it a reality.
The Kohinoor diamond is the name of one of the largest cut diamonds in the world. Can you give us a background on why you decided to choose this name for your restaurant?
I saw it in a dream and knew it had to be the name. I dreamed about this expensive diamond and said, “I can’t get one of those!” (laughs) but I decided it would be a great name for our restaurant. The name and diamond symbol on our logo is really a good luck charm for us. We do have two names, though: Kamudeni is our company name and Kohinoor is our restaurant name.
As the restaurant owner, what does a typical day look like for you?
Well, I come in and open up, and spend most of my time speaking with our customers who come in and making them feel at home. It’s a big family here.
Many of Kohinoor’s reviews rave not only about your great food, but also the warm, family-oriented environment in your restaurant. What do you like most about working with your family?
We fight! (laughs) And we love. I love working with my family as a team. In our culture, we respect our elders, so my dad, who’s the head chef, has many ideas and plans, shares them with us and we follow my dad’s vision.
For someone who is looking to try something new, what is your personal favorite on the menu?
One of the Thali Combos, #57-60 on the menu. The combo platter is available with vegetarian or non-vegetarian options and features small portions of our delicious dishes served on a large platter with naan and rice. It’s our most popular item on the menu!
What do you like best about being located in Champaign?
The community! When we first opened here in Downtown Champaign, nobody knew where we were. Our restaurant was tucked away. But little by little, people started coming in and started spreading the word, and we started getting all of these reviews online and it went viral! But really, nobody knew we were here until people came and tried our food, loved it, and shared it with their friends. They said they came into the restaurant because they saw the diamond.
So the diamond really is your lucky charm!
Yes, it is! (laughs)
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Come in and try our food! We would love to have you come and try our dishes.
Follow Kohinoor on Facebook at @kohinoorchampaign.
By Melinda Sevilla, Contributing Writer