Monday, March 22, 2010

Indian lunch buffets and a few others

My, the days pass quickly by and the blogging falls by the way side. I had a lovely week in Oaxaca and hope to write about the excellent eating there. But in the interim, here are some food notes on one of the great cultural eating experiences: Indian lunch buffets. I had been hankering for Indian buffets where I can fill up on lunch and not eat a whole dinner. I have notes on a few but will keep trying them so there will be additional posts in the future.

I just had an excellent meal at Turmeric in downtown Sunnyvale where $10.95 gets you great vegetarian and meat (mainly chicken) dishes and a few surprises. The menu says they have dinner buffet on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for $12.95 which is really a great deal, if similar to lunch. The two most outstanding dishes were the pakoras (perfectly crisp) and the mango pudding for dessert (oh so smooth and tasty). Kadi pokadi (little dumplings in a fantastic yogurt sauce), stewed spinach and mustard greens, and chicken makhani were also wonderful, but nothing was bad and everything was plentiful.

Also excellent was Sakoon, one of the new fancy Indian places in downtown Mountain View. Beautiful furnishings and floors. I loved the floors! And a bounteous buffet for $12.95. Among the highlights were samosas, palak paneer, butter chicken, and an exquiste basil chicken. I love to at first try a little of evrything and then come back for the special dishes, but the offerings are so varied here that it's hard to have room to go back. It costs more than most buffets in the area but I thought it was worth it.

The cheapest but not the worst was Taj Palace on Blossom Hill Rd. in San Jose. $5!! No price posted so I was happily surprised to see the almost non-existent bill. They only offer about 8 dishes but a good balance of vegetables and chicken dishes. Nothing was outstanding but everything was decent. Decor is spare but all in all an incredible deal. It ws pretty full so it's no secret to budget-conscious families and others who realize they can have the big meal of the day so cheaply.

Darbar in downtown Palo Alto is reliably fine both for lunch and dinner. Their $9.95 lunch buffet has a good assortment of favorites, varying in spiciness. If the chicken vandaloo is offered, get some. Everything tastes fresh and usually refilled as needed. Janta, on the other hand, was a disappointment, with empty serving dishes and no refilling happening. The host said it had been especially busy and someone didn't show up for work, but I had much higher expectations and left very unsatisfied (full, of course, but unsatisfied) for my $9.95 lunch. The samosa was quite good.

New Saffron in Mountain View across from Lozano's Car Wash is worth a visit. It's been several different Indian restaurants in the past. Their $9.95 buffet is good, not great, but there's enough selection that everyone leaves satisfied. And there are meat as well as chicken dishes. A nothing decor but a good buzz in there. Across the street in the Village Court Center is Spicy Leaves with a $10.95 buffet. They also suffered from depleted serving platters that were slow to be refilled and a mediocre selection. They do offer a couple of Sri Lankan dishes, such as their dal, which makes it worth a try. They seem to not want to take a chance to put out food that won't be eaten but it makes the buffet look too meager for the price. Maybe it's a place better suited to ordering a la carte.