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Indian buffet suggestions?

Okay, so I face the challenge of dating a vegetarian who is 95% sure she doesn't like Indian food but is willing to give it one last try to confirm this. We decided that maybe the best idea would be to go to a lunch buffet, so she could sample several different options (and maybe discover something she actually likes). I know buffets generally aren't the best representation of any type of food but I was wondering which buffets fellow hounds would recommend? I'm leaning towards Namaskar in Davis (which would be close to where we'll be and my memories from when I lived in Davis are that Namaskar was better than Diva, though I can't remember if that applied to the buffet too) or Tamarind Bay in Harvard (which I fear may not represent what she can expect to find at most Indian restaurants?).

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  1. I recently had the buffet at Namaskar. I highly recommend it..haven't been to Diva. Thought it was better than Tamarind Bay's buffet.

    2 Replies
    1. re: 9lives

      The mid-week and weekend buffets at Namaskar are great. That would also be my choice.

      1. re: gini

        Third this rec -- and plenty of veg options, including basic salad bar fixings in case your friend should decide she just doesn't like the rest of the fare.

        Beware of agressive water glass refilling. Otherwise you will enjoy it!

    2. I love the buffet at Kebab Factory (opposite Dali, Washington @ Beacon on the Cambridge/Somerville line). I know it seems odd to recommend that a vegetarian eat at a place with kebab in the name, but it has one of the widest selections of buffets that I've seen in the area.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mbtabus69

        I also like the Indian buffet at the Kebab Factory in Somerville. They have plenty of vegetarian options and meat options on their lunch buffet.

      2. I haven't been to Tamarind Bay lately, but would still choose Namaskar. You get the cute saffron drink, there are both standard Indian dishes plus a few unusual ones, and on a non-food note, it's not in a basement!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bluebell

          Are they still doing the pre meal drink? Wife and I had dinner there last Friday and they did not serve it. Or does it only come with special meals and/or the buffet?

          This place may just be catching on since it was the first time that I've eaten there were more than just one or two tables being used.

        2. Word of caution:
          Just make sure she's a vegetarian that eats dairy. Most Indian places cook with ghee, a type of clarified butter.

          3 Replies
          1. re: joestrummer

            Is clarified butter still considered dairy? All the milk sugar is in the watery layer which is discarded when making clarified butter, leaving just the butter fat...yummmm.

            1. re: AnjLM

              Mmmm. . .fat.
              Not sure from a lactose/dairy point of view but from an animal product point of view I would think it is.
              I had some hard-core vegetarian friends (basically vegans) and they wouldn't eat ghee.
              I'm no expert but I wanted to give Po Boy a heads-up in case he was unaware and it was an issue.

              1. re: joestrummer

                Thanks for the heads up... thankfully she does eat dairy (which makes my attempts to cook for us a lot easier -- esp as I'm already pushing my limited skills enough, adjusting from meat based meals to vegetarian friendly meals).

          2. If you can travel by car, I would recommend Punjab Cafe in Quincy. It is in a most unlikely location, in a mall across from a CVS. Once inside, however, it is cozy , romantic, tasty and inexpensive. They do a buffet on weekends, but are sensitive to different palates. Our family preferences range from medium-hot vegetarian to very hot chicken Vindaloo. We always leave with the feeling that we should go there more often...

            1. I would not at all recommend Diva. The suggestions above of Namaskar, Tamarind Bay, and Kebab Factory are good ones, with Cafe of India and Tanjore being respectable alternates.

              1. I hate to say it, but I can't recommend Namaskar, especially for a vegetarian. I was there last weekend and there was only one vegetarian item on the buffet, and it was so heavy in garlic that I couldn't bear to eat more than a bite. The appetizer options were few and I found the other entree options to be just so-so. In general, buffets may not be your best option for a vegetarian date unless she is ok with just having one or two options to choose from.

                2 Replies
                1. re: cambridgejen

                  Managed to check out the lunch buffet at Tamarind Bay today (it has been a while). the selection is pretty limited - two chicken dishes (a curry and a VERY NICE tandoori), chaana masala, a fantastic green bean and coconut dish from Kerala, onion pakora, papads, rice, good selection of pickles, and kheer. Naan served in a basket at the table. Still, I would not recommend it over some of the places with somewhat larger selections. The naan was doughy and somewhat flavorless; overall I found most of the dishes somewhat plain and lacking in any spice.

                  I will say that I have had far better success ordering off of the dinner menu, which has a very interesting selection of dishes - though it was a while ago.

                  1. re: cambridgejen

                    I'm surprised to hear that there were so few veg options when you went to Namaskar ... when I was there recently (during the week) there were several -- I don't know the names but there was an eggplant curry, a chickpea dish, saag paneer, onion pakoras, and as I mentioned, various salad options. Also plenty of naan, which no one could dislike.

                  2. Had a good lunch buffet at Masala Art in Needham several months ago. It was much better than others I have had.

                    1. I dunno, a girl who doesn't like Indian, kind of a deal breaker.


                      I have to second (or third?) Tamarind Bay in Harvard Square. Last time I was there they had some very imaginative and tasty vegetarian dishes, a nice change from the North Indian standards you find on most Indian Buffet steam tables. Their naan is nice and fresh too - made to order for each person.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Prav

                        What makes it even harder is that we spend most of our time in Allston, where CH approved Indian places seem to be opening every other month! More of an actual deal breaker is the fact that she can't cook at all (I seem to have really bad luck with this) but she puts up with a lot of my crap, laughs more often than not at my bizarro sense of humor, and really appreciates when I cook for us, so she's a keeper for now : )

                        I've never been to TB (nor am I super knowledgable of Indian food); so I guess I'm trying to figure out if she finds something(s) she'll like at their buffet, will we be able to find that on the menu at other places around town?

                        1. re: po_boy

                          I would follow the recommendations of other posters for that neighborhood. I would consider ordering a couple of vegetarian options from the main menu and share them. Buffets are a good way to try things but she will be limited to half the offerings at best. Prepared to order might be worth it. I also recommend experimenting with some garam masala spice at home. Good luck!