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Ganga

ureviewcalgary May 23, 2007 09:39 AM

Located at 221, 8th Avenue SW (where Casa de la Salsa used to be) is a nifty Indian restaurant that...god forbid...serves a decent lunch buffet with separate curries you can distinguish between. There are so many bad Indian buffet restaurants these days that it's nice to find one downtown that is inexpensive and delivers good food. If you like your Indian food "Westernized" then don't bother going here. If you like some spice, MOIST tandoori chicken, and are willing to try things like curried goat (which is excellent), then this is the place for you. The decor is dumpy and given that it is located below ground it's dark but this spot offers good value and kicks the curry out of places like Chutney (Sun Life Plaza). I wouldn't go here for dinner but am happy to spend a lunch hour underground. Cheers!

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  1. John Manzo RE: ureviewcalgary May 23, 2007 01:19 PM

    This is great to read, UR- I went there for the buffet the week they opened and was nonplussed, but was very happy for the extremely gracious service.

    Goat on the buffet? That's great news- will want to try it.

    8 Replies
    1. re: John Manzo
      ureviewcalgary RE: John Manzo May 23, 2007 02:23 PM

      I ordered lunch from them for 16 into my office today at 10:45AM. The food was here at noon, hot, and my staff are raving about their curries. The samosas and pakora were excellent as well. Their naan needs a lot of work but we were all pleased with the food quality overall...and I convinced our team to try the goat curry which drew great reviews! LOL If that naan issue could be fixed I'd really be a happy camper. The people who run this place are so nice it makes it easy to support them.

      1. re: John Manzo
        sharonanne RE: John Manzo May 23, 2007 03:23 PM

        The food had you confused, John Manzo? Now I'm confused. LOL Was it good? huh? huh?

        1. re: sharonanne
          John Manzo RE: sharonanne May 23, 2007 07:31 PM

          I said "nonplussed," which means "unimpressed." It was their first week and the tandoori chickem was undercooked and the samosas cold. But I am willing to give them another chance, first week jitters there I assume given UR's positive experience.

          Please, call me John.

          1. re: John Manzo
            sharonanne RE: John Manzo May 24, 2007 05:17 AM

            Hi John. Unfortunate that the food wasn't better. I've always believed nonplussed was another way to say confused. You made me look it up!

            Cambridge Dictionary:

            nonplussed adjective
            surprised, confused and not certain how to react:
            I was completely nonplussed by his reply.

            1. re: sharonanne
              John Manzo RE: sharonanne May 24, 2007 08:57 AM

              Sharonannes, you have taken me to school- thank you. Seriously, I hate when people use the word "infer" when they mean "imply" and such, and I had always assumed the incorrect meaning for "nonplussed."

              1. re: John Manzo
                m
                mandelbrot RE: John Manzo May 24, 2007 01:01 PM

                Actually....what we have here is a very good example of the evolution of the English language. While Sharonanne has the etymologically correct definition, John Manzo's use of the word is creeping into current usage. See http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/...
                Incidentally, I was just browsing the OED for the history of the word "buffet", and in the late nineteenth century when we have the first recorded use of the word meaning something approximating our modern sense (not the sideboard, but the meal), buffets included largely cold items meant to be served to a standing crowd. The 1951 Good Housekeeping Home Encyclopedia, for instance, recommends "sandwiches and bridge rolls" as appropriate fare for a buffet. We've come a long way with goat curry! Can't wait to try it.

                1. re: John Manzo
                  sharonanne RE: John Manzo May 25, 2007 12:21 PM

                  I am so glad I could teach the teacher. The one that bothers me is "I could care less." Doesn't even make sense

                  1. re: sharonanne
                    John Manzo RE: sharonanne May 25, 2007 02:35 PM

                    Oh my God- how about people who misuse "literally"? "I LITERALLY died and went to heaven when I had that cheesecake!"

        2. y
          yen RE: ureviewcalgary May 24, 2007 07:47 AM

          Thanks for highlighting a place that could easily be missed (i must've walked by Casa de la Salsa 10 or 20 times before i noticed!), but i have one question? What don't you like about Chutney? Or why is Ganga so much better?

          I used to work across the street from Chutney, and ended up eating there on occasion. While not amazing (what buffet food is), i found it to be really good. It had great selection, the food was always fresh, and they used traditional, and real spicing where required (green cardamon pods, toasted cumin and fenugreek seeds, etc..).

          14 Replies
          1. re: yen
            ureviewcalgary RE: yen May 24, 2007 11:51 AM

            Yen,
            I always found Chutney to be the same blend of curry in all their dishes. Butter chicken was an orange saucy blob. The dishes are seasoned for the "Western palate". The quality if the buffet when I have gone has been subpar but they just be inconsistent. The selection is quite large but I never found it to be fresh. Tandoori chicken dried out completely, pakora and samosas never warm, but a bit soggy.I also found service to be a disaster on more than one visit. In short, it's an average buffet place and that's fine for a quick bite.

            What I liked about Ganga was the discernable difference in the flavors of their curries.
            The selection is smaller but the tastes are strikingly different and more authentic (it's like the Skylark in the NE). I actually had to blow my nose after eating there because there was some spice, zest, etc. The pakora were crispy, samosas spicy, and other than really bad naan I was surprised at the quality of their buffet. I haven't had moist tandoori chicken at any buffet until Ganga. Now who knows....maybe they're inconsistent as well and I hit them on consecutively "good" days! LOL

            Their bathrooms are disgusting...so I do wonder about the kitchen cleanliness...

            1. re: ureviewcalgary
              y
              yen RE: ureviewcalgary May 24, 2007 12:03 PM

              Wow, very different experiences i guess. I havent been to Chutney in well over a year (i stopped working downtwon 16 months ago), but when i was going, they only kept things at 1/2 filled to ensure a lot of consistent refilling, tandoori chicken was plump and moist, pakora's were crispy and good. I never liked their samosa's, which were a big soggy, and i agree, the service is beyond inconsistent.

              What's funny is if you are referring to the Skylark in the SE (17ave to be exact), i really dislike it there. Their lunch buffet was the most disgusting thing i've ever eaten - to the point that we walked out hungry and went and got some papusa's instead. Their food was bland and unspiced. The butter chicken was white! With no spices! When i went for table service, it was a bit better, but it wasnt great. It really has been one of the worst restaurant experiences i've had in the past year.

              But your description of the food at Ganga sounds like it is definitely worth a try. Hopefully, it is as consistent as when you've been. I'll give Glory of India that... they arent the best food, but you know exactly what you're getting everytime you're there.

              1. re: yen
                John Manzo RE: yen May 24, 2007 04:29 PM

                Yen and UR- speaking of Glory of India- I love this place for dinner and we get delivery from here fairly often too; what they can do with chickpeas is amazing. So I was thrilled (being another one of those who does not work DT) to at long last get their lunch buffet; this was last summer... and it was really disappointing. Watery curries, just unexceptional, and I'd have to have taken someone from out of town having extolled it as Calgary's "best" Indian resto. Wish more places had great buffets AND great a la carte.

                SPEAKING OF BUFFETS- I tried the much-wondered-about Soba Ten buffet a couple weeks ago. It is utterly bizarre and left me NONPLUSSED, sharonanne, NONPLUSSED I tells ya. They have little bowls of soba with those tasty veggies and these are covered with saran wrap; you spoon on some broth from a crock pot and it's confusing but quite good. The rest ranges from passably edible to horrible- including gyoza that came out of the kitchen cold and curry with nothing in it but the gravy (katsu was gone by then). Sushi was too scary to contemplate. I want this to end- it was a great lunch but I guess its the state of the industry that buffets require less labour (right?).

                1. re: yen
                  ureviewcalgary RE: yen May 24, 2007 04:33 PM

                  Yen,

                  I've never done the buffet at Skylark but have eaten there with Indian friends which was very good when "made to order" at dinner. I love a place that asks you which level of heat you want in your dishes and delivers. Best Galub Jamun I've ever eaten too. Their service was......AWFUL. It's like eating in someone's basement but until Ganga I hadn't seen goat curry anywhere else.

                  I think buffets are of generally low quality (it's hard to keep food fresh AND hot) which is why I was surprised by Ganga in my 2 experiences. My visits to Chutney have all been since last September so maybe it has changed since you last went. Anyway when any of us want to get in and out within 60 minutes we cannot expect a Michelin star experience at any buffets! LOL Cheers Yen.

                  1. re: ureviewcalgary
                    John Manzo RE: ureviewcalgary May 24, 2007 04:52 PM

                    UR- I prefer Indian at a buffet- curries taste better when they've had a chance to develop. The one time I went to Chutney's was 11:30 and everyhing tasted flat. I think it woud have been much better at 1:30.

                    1. re: John Manzo
                      ureviewcalgary RE: John Manzo May 24, 2007 08:20 PM

                      We can agree to disagree on that one. I understand your point but you won't sell me on the benefits of buffet! LOL

                      Still have a few spaces left for the wine tasting at Tribune on Monday night. Email me via my blog if you're interested! Cheers.

                      1. re: ureviewcalgary
                        pants RE: ureviewcalgary May 25, 2007 07:47 AM

                        i like the lunch buffet at surya on 11th Ave across the corner from co-op - it's pretty tasty for a buffet - dinner there is great and i know they have some goat dishes UR. it's really friendly there too - delivery is slow though so if you get take out, pick it up yourself, we waited an hour and half once...

                        i'll be at the wine tasting on monday - looking forward to it!!

                        1. re: pants
                          ureviewcalgary RE: pants May 25, 2007 10:08 AM

                          Glad to have you coming out! There's a few Chowhounders attending so it will be fun to put some faces to names. Cheers!

                          1. re: ureviewcalgary
                            y
                            yen RE: ureviewcalgary May 25, 2007 11:15 AM

                            Would've liked to have come, but i have a basketball game that night. Good looking event though - hope you throw another one!

                            1. re: yen
                              ureviewcalgary RE: yen May 25, 2007 12:13 PM

                              Yen, I typically do a wine tasting or food event every quarter. Monday we're doing Aussie wines but I am already working on an evening of French. I do these events for friends and likeminded food/wine fans as a hobby so it's a bit erratic.

                              I'll try and post a thread next time (if the Chow gods let me) but typically only promote via my blog. One way or another I'll get the word out. I haven't opened many events to the general public but am happy to have Chowhounders come on down (as Bob Barker USED to say!). Cheers!

                              1. re: ureviewcalgary
                                alex8alot RE: ureviewcalgary May 28, 2007 06:50 PM

                                I just noticed the name of this restaurant in another "review" by the chra. I hope it will still be around because I got my appetite whetted for the curries!

                                1. re: alex8alot
                                  h
                                  hsk RE: alex8alot May 28, 2007 08:41 PM

                                  Ick. Are they cleaned up and open again?

                                  1. re: hsk
                                    alex8alot RE: hsk May 28, 2007 10:10 PM

                                    The report was dated the 25th again and it is still classified until "Active" so I would guess not.

                                    1. re: hsk
                                      ByeByeBaby RE: hsk May 29, 2007 08:22 PM

                                      They were open today at lunch, although the report was still listed as active (at http://www.calgaryhealthregion.ca/hec... for people like me who don't have it bookmarked), so either the CHR doesn't update their website often enough or Ganga's staff has some real cojones.

                                      When I went there, with maybe 8 or 10 coworkers, I had an excellent meal and really enjoyed it. On the other hand, they automatically added a tip to our bills... for the buffet. Perhaps the cojones explanation isn't so far off after all.
                                      That being said, I'd eat there again after they got a clean bill of health. Literally.

              2. ByeByeBaby RE: ureviewcalgary Jul 8, 2007 10:44 AM

                Revisited since it's reopening, and the food's still excellent. (Way I figure it, if a kitchen's reopened by the health department, they've just passed a rigorous inspection -- all the others out there, who knows when they were last inspected?)

                Still the same good food and cheesy decor, but I've got to add props for the friendly management. I was there in a group and they squeezed us in, even though we were like 4 or 5 more than our reservation. Then, on the way out, at the till, the owner (I assume) asks us if everything was okay. One of my coworkers, jokingly, mentioned that they ran out of gulab jamun (the little balls in syrup). The manager goes and checks, then disappears into the kitchen for a few seconds, then comes back to us at the cash register with a plate of them. Plastic forks are produced, and he insists we have seconds and thirds (and he has one himself). Super nice people.

                3 Replies
                1. re: ByeByeBaby
                  howlin RE: ByeByeBaby Sep 3, 2007 08:43 PM

                  i dont know if im at the right post ,but delhi darbars the glenmore inn mall is the best indian food out there.this is a place that will make your food the way you like it ,not how they prepare it everyday.This is the difference from a real chef and a lowly cook.i order my butter chicken spicy and they deliver the best every time.10 out of 10 .i have tried most indian restaurants in calgary , and nothing comes close.oh and sharonanne,please ,this is a food review not a grammer lesson,although i could use some help in that area, not dum just lazy..

                  1. re: howlin
                    sharonanne RE: howlin Sep 4, 2007 07:33 AM

                    I had to scroll to see why you mentioned me. hehe

                    Nah, while it may be fun to tease John Manzo, I CAN be nice to the new people.

                    Always good to hear about good food. I wish I had known earlier this summer as we drove over that way quite often but won't be till next summer now.

                    1. re: howlin
                      John Manzo RE: howlin Sep 4, 2007 08:41 AM

                      Sharonanne was just needling me because I can be a pedant.

                      I've heard much good about this place, but what a terrible location- aside from the captive audience at the hotel, who is going to find this place? It's surrounded by warehouses and single-storey office parks. Not a good location for a sit-down resto.

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