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Indian buffets and other lunch options

pinotnoir Jun 11, 2007 07:15 PM

Early lunch Khana Peena second Tuesday half price buffet and good.

  1. Glencora Jun 11, 2007 07:54 PM

    I walked by last month and made a mental note. And then forgot completely. What's good there?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Glencora
      pinotnoir Jun 12, 2007 02:28 AM

      It's a buffet. It was tasty and the meat and vegetables were fresh and not dried out.The chutney, green, was spicy. The naan was warm just out of the oven, Sorry I can't be more specific but it was an excellent lunch and a bargain at $4.00 plus tax and generous tip, had to say that. The service, beverage, naan etc was prompt.
      All in all a very pleasant dining experience. In fact as I look at my calender today is the second Tuesday and I will try to go again.

    2. z
      zippo Jun 12, 2007 09:16 AM

      which locations of Khana Peena offer the 1/2 price second Tuesday? thx

      38 Replies
      1. re: zippo
        pinotnoir Jun 12, 2007 09:26 AM

        Sorry too provincial of me. Upper Solano Berkeley.

        1. re: pinotnoir
          choctastic Jun 12, 2007 09:52 AM

          The website says special lunch buffet $8.99, but doesn't say anything about it being on the second Tuesday.

          1. re: choctastic
            Glencora Jun 12, 2007 10:06 AM

            There was a sandwich board on the sidewalk last month that said that the buffet was half-price that day.

            1. re: Glencora
              pinotnoir Jun 12, 2007 11:59 AM

              Thank you Glencora for the defense, I was out shopping for dinner. I'm sorry if I was off by 50 cents, short term memory loss. It was still a bargain.

            2. re: choctastic
              pinotnoir Jun 12, 2007 12:02 PM

              Actually if you look on the menu page of the site they say $7.99 lunch buffet.
              Maybe I'm not that far gone.

              1. re: pinotnoir
                choctastic Jun 12, 2007 12:15 PM

                Uh, nobody is arguing about the price. I just thought it was weird that this is only on the 2nd Tuesday and the website doesn't say that it's just on that Tuesday. No need to get defensive.

                1. re: choctastic
                  adrienne156 Jun 12, 2007 12:31 PM

                  My officemates go there religiously every 2nd Tuesday, so I just called them to ask a server if there was any significane to every 2nd Tuesday. The server answered "Why not any other day of the month?" Apparently there is no rhyme or reason.

                  1. re: adrienne156
                    choctastic Jun 12, 2007 01:46 PM

                    Oh I see, it's every other Tuesday, not the 2nd Tuesday of the month. I didn't read that correctly so I thought that was some kind of special day which made me curious. Thx adrienne.

                    1. re: choctastic
                      pinotnoir Jun 12, 2007 02:23 PM

                      I still believe it's every 2nd Tuesday of the month not every other Tuesday.
                      check with the restaurant.

                      1. re: choctastic
                        adrienne156 Jun 12, 2007 03:51 PM

                        No, sorry, you had it right the first time. I should have worded it to say "every 2nd Tuesday of the month."

                        But, your welcome?

                    2. re: choctastic
                      pinotnoir Jun 12, 2007 12:36 PM

                      I saw a note on the window as I walked by. I put it on my calendar and lo and behold on May 8 the sandwich board appeared. Why only on the 2nd
                      Tuesday? You will have to ask the owner. Why not advertise it all over?
                      Probably because it is a loss leader or has a small profit margin but willt entice locals to try the place and come back for lunch and dinner at other times. There
                      is a 500 pound gorilla across the street.

                      1. re: pinotnoir
                        adrienne156 Jun 12, 2007 01:01 PM

                        I have yet to understand why Ajanta has such a following. I find their portion sizes downright insulting.


                        1. re: adrienne156
                          psb Jun 12, 2007 05:45 PM

                          >I have yet to understand why Ajanta has such a following.
                          er, are you talking to me? not quite sure why but ...

                          i have a "cognitive dissoanance theory" about the popularity of
                          Breads of India, which people claimed was "a great and cheap
                          holein the wall", which i agreed was a hole in the wall, didnt
                          think was that great [subjective] and was objectively not cheep ...
                          i never understood why people lined up to get in there. my theory
                          was it was just such an unassuming looking place in such an odd
                          location and unusal name, people somehow convinced themselves
                          they'd "discovered" something.

                          with ajanta: well, they have been around for a while and i think
                          they had better service than a lot of other places did ... certainly
                          some indian restaurants had phenomentally bad service [pasand].
                          also i think they took food a little more seriously and mixed up the menu
                          to try new things ... as opposed to cynically pumping out the usual saag
                          paneer, CTM, begum bharta etc. now some of these innovations work,
                          some fail, but i think that built up a certain relationship with the regulars ...
                          "oh how was dish X ... we're trying it out" and people felt a sort of participation
                          or partnership that offset being served something that didnt work.

                          i havent been to ajanta in a long time, so i cant give you a particular
                          example of this. also, frankly, the standard for indian food in the bay area
                          is just not that high, as it is for so many other food categories. [i'm not saying
                          it horrible, but as with something like BBQ, it's not one of the strong suits].

                          so somehow they managed to distinguish themselves as "one of the good
                          places" in a pretty weak field. how much of that was from the kitchen and
                          how much from front of the house customer relations i cant say. whether they
                          are better/worse than 5 yrs ago, i cant say, eventhough i claim the iron law
                          of indian restaurants is they go downhill over time and then they change name.

                          i can say i didnt like their dining room.

                          re: portion sizes ...
                          i think the meat portions at most $8-$10/entree indian restaurants
                          are rather niggardly. lahore karahi being an unsual exception in the
                          $5-7 entree category. i dont see why they cant just throw in some more
                          cheep chicken into the gravy of those dishes ... it's not likey are using
                          expensive cuts of fish/beef. you have to fill up on rice/naan etc. which
                          might have some authenticity to it, but at least portions of things like daal
                          should be cheep.

                          i also cant get over like 2 gulub jam for $3.50. that is crazy.

                          1. re: psb
                            adrienne156 Jun 14, 2007 08:34 AM

                            I didn't mean to offend in asking you, but I often wonder if my taste in south asian food is skewed to the point where I miss things that others see. I personally do not like Ajanta's food and as noted above, especially don't like their portion sizes. I've asked others whose opinions I believe to be educated and respect and by your response above - I'm glad I asked you.

                            $3.50 for 2 gulab jam is funny... That covers the cost of the box of bisquick they used to make it.

                            1. re: adrienne156
                              psb Jun 14, 2007 11:00 AM

                              >I didn't mean to offend in asking you
                              no offese taken.

                              when i give examples of "quit your job and open an indian
                              restaurant in america" prices to my relaties in india, i use
                              the 2x gulab jam for $3.50 and the 6x pani puri for $3.50-$4.00.

                              [yes, i am kidding about that ... i know the one massively profitable
                              item ... coke and fries ... dont reflect the profits across the board.]

                              i'm so-so on ajanta as well. i still havent been to amber in the
                              south bay .. the other older supposedly standout place. have you
                              tried them?

                              btw, i also dont think vik's is that great for chaat. after they really
                              took off, i think they got a little apathetic.

                              1. re: psb
                                adrienne156 Jun 14, 2007 11:23 AM

                                Amber in Mountain View? No yet. I want to go, I really really do, but the drive has kept me from getting off my butt and going.

                                I haven't been to vik's since it opened and then I only had the samosas and cholla. The samosas seemed very one note to me. I'd rather go up to the movie rental stores on University and pick up some cold ones to take home and reheat.

                                1. re: psb
                                  osho Jun 14, 2007 03:11 PM

                                  psb, you're the first person I've seen criticize Vik's. And you know what, mate, I wholeheartedly agree with you.

                                  The food is positively insipid. The food is either too oily (cholay), or not even passable (dosas). The samosas are completely tasteless.

                                  I simply do not understand how the place still gets rave reviews.

                                  This was not the case when they first threw open their doors. I do recall having great chaat there in 2001, maybe.

                                  My vote for great "chaat" goes to Dana Bazar in Fremont and Chaat Paradise in Sunnyvale on El Camino Real.

                                  Also, don't ever have the chaat at Bombay Ice cream on Valencia.

                                  1. re: osho
                                    psb Jun 14, 2007 03:24 PM

                                    >My vote for great "chaat" goes to Dana Bazar in Fremont
                                    yes, we agree on that too.

                                    vik's isnt better because they dont need to be. also, is it inflation
                                    or the vik's premium ... i was there for the first time in a while and noticed
                                    the chaat that is usually $3-$3.50 was $4 there. although quantity-wise,
                                    it was pretty fair.

                                    oh my understanding is thre sweets arent bad.

                                    >I simply do not understand how the place still gets rave reviews.
                                    i think it's a combination of bay area people not realizing the
                                    standard for indian food here is not that high compared to say
                                    UK and the "Cognitive Dissonance Theory" ... it's this weird
                                    places off in the middle of nowhere ... people convince
                                    themselves "it's a find". of course viks is not longer a hole in the
                                    wall, not a secret find. [i originally came up with this to explain
                                    why so many people raved about breads of india ... and there
                                    would be a line to get at for the first seating of the evening].
                                    when vik's has 30 people in line, surely you want to believe
                                    you wanted for something good rather than something mediocre.

                                    when viks first opened it was pretty much like the dana bazar operation:
                                    a weekend only "stall" at the back of the shop where indian families would
                                    stop in while grocery shopping ... the were good then. i'm surprised to hear
                                    they were still good in 2001.

                                    i've often wondered why they didnt open a space on telegraph or shattuck
                                    are ... since they could trade on their name and caputure some of the
                                    walk by business ... but maybe students arent inclined to pay $4 for chaat.
                                    they need to get McKinsey&Co in there.

                                    >Also, don't ever have the chaat at Bombay Ice cream on Valencia.
                                    good to know.

                                    1. re: psb
                                      osho Jun 14, 2007 03:56 PM

                                      Cheers for that post. The McKinsey comment is too funny. Esp. because I worked for a similar consulting firm, at one time :-)
                                      I am going out on a limb here. I believe that the best Indian/Pakistani food outside of the subcontinent is found in England.

                                      1. re: osho
                                        psb Jun 14, 2007 10:57 PM

                                        >I believe that the best Indian/Pakistani food outside of the
                                        >subcontinent is found in England.
                                        i think in some areas restos in the UK may be at least as good as or
                                        better than restos in the subcontinent ... of course a generalization
                                        like this has it's limits, but i dont think indians are historically as much
                                        into going out to restaurants as say the chinese peoples ... where large
                                        family dinners *in restaurants* seems to be common. the bengali
                                        restaurants in the UK may very well be better than the bengali restos
                                        in Kolkata [i want to emphasize i'm talking about resto meals ... meals
                                        i had in homes were way, way, way better than here even counting
                                        non-special, non-trying hard everyday comford food type dishes.
                                        it is literally true that the worst dish i've had at one aunts house
                                        was better than best meal i've ever had in a bay area indian
                                        restaurant. and we're not talking about special cooking for her
                                        favorite nephew ... i mean like over the course of a 3 week visit].

                                        so just like people from the land of serious BBQ are not impressed with
                                        even the best of local BBQ, i think if you are from the UK, you wont be
                                        impressed with the indian food here. recently i was talking to a woman
                                        from NANJING and of course asked "so what chinese places do you like
                                        here" ... she basically said they all were so-so to bad and would rather
                                        eat other kinds of food. she got a little bit excited when i told her about
                                        that fellow at Jai Yun and they apparently had some conversation about
                                        his culinary pedigree ... and her conculsion was that dood might cut the
                                        mustard. but it is interesting when you get a dish there that is also served
                                        at the more run of the mill places ... you can really tell "ok here is a chef's
                                        version vs. a cooks version" ... if you see what i mean.

                                        so i guess "conditioning" matters.

                                        1. re: psb
                                          psb Jun 15, 2007 02:47 PM

                                          Some what apropos to:
                                          >recently i was talking to a woman from NANJING and of course
                                          >asked "so what chinese places do you like here" ... she basically
                                          >said they all were so-so to bad ...

                                          An OpEd from those Zagat people:

                                          1. re: psb
                                            Fussy Foodie Jun 15, 2007 05:58 PM

                                            It's funny how Brits seem to always talk up the Indian food from their homeland with ridiculous claims like-

                                            "i think in some areas restos in the UK may be at least as good as or
                                            better than restos in the subcontinent"

                                            I realize that Indian food is the unofficial-official food of England, but in my experience it really isn't that great, nothing, NOTHING, like what you'll find in India. IMO it's on par with the indo/Pak scene in the bay area. A few steller spots Pakwan, Shalimar, Kabana, Junnoon (fusiony, but still great) and plenty of run of the mill restaurants getting by serving stale food. I agree with Viks being disappointing, but you can find good chaat in the bay area.

                                            I feel the same way about BBQ in the area, among the crap, you can find some really good BBQ (E&J's, Memphis Minnies).

                                        2. re: psb
                                          rworange Jun 14, 2007 07:52 PM

                                          Haven't been to Vik's, but I'm with you on the chaat at Bombay. I never thought their ice cream was all that either. Unique flavors ... but it's just Mitchell's / Bud;s grade ice cream .. .and not even that ... not that Mitchell's pumpkin isn't outstanding.

                                          How did a sushi thread get here?

                                          1. re: psb
                                            nuttie_cat Jun 15, 2007 04:46 PM

                                            I am with you on Viks. I grew up in Bombay eating chaat in the evenings after school and work. I love chaat and eat it anytime. I was very disappointed with Viks when I went there. The flavors were off and I didn't think the chaat was any good. I usually get a sev puri. I have tried their pav bhaji and think it sucks. I didn't order it after the first time.
                                            Viks is way overrated!

                                            1. re: nuttie_cat
                                              lintygmom Jun 15, 2007 05:05 PM

                                              I was always afraid to say that--like criticizing an icon, but it is kind of blah to me, especially when putting up with the ambiance and service, or lack there of. It was much better years ago when it wasn't so big.

                                          2. re: osho
                                            Melanie Wong Jun 14, 2007 04:07 PM

                                            Here's my post on disappointment at Vik's last year after a long absence,

                                            I'm with you all the way on Dana Bazar and the second outpost by the same ladies, Chat Patta Corner. I was back there a couple months ago for the pani puri and the friend I brought with me almost prostrated with his effusive "thank yous" for insisting we get off the freeway there for a snack. Here's more on the two,

                                            1. re: Melanie Wong
                                              jhinky Jun 15, 2007 03:27 PM

                                              Very interesting thread! Coincidentally I just went to Vik's for lunch today with 3 non-Indian colleagues from work, 2 of whom had never been before.

                                              I had the lunch special with fish. It had a very bland side of alu matar/salad but the rice / roti was ok and the gravy for the fish was actually pretty nice though a tiny portion. It was the semblance of a balanced meal for $6. Not amazing food but nice for when I want Indian food and not the chicken tikka masala type buffets.

                                              What went over really well with the colleagues who had never been there earlier was a bhel puri that they had never had before and loved how it felt light yet had lots of flavor.

                                              Dana Bazar is the default though for my friends when they crave pani puri - and not just the Fremont/South Bay friends but people who have to drive down from the city as well. I have to say though that the ones who live in the South Bay have a mental picture of the mythical Vik's mostly because they never get around to there and when they do they are a bit disappointed on the whole.

                                              Now I really want to try the Khana Peena buffet - is it good or just a great deal at $4?

                                              @psb, although this may be going off-topic - i think Bengali restaurants situation in Calcutta has hugely improved lately - something to do with more eating out and the older, complex recipe creating generations dying out I guess.

                                              1. re: jhinky
                                                adrienne156 Jun 16, 2007 02:34 PM

                                                Ki gaye laage? (Darnit, I missed it didn't I?) :o\

                                                I miss the kabob shops - the things those people can do with liver and mutton is incredible.

                                                The Khana Peena buffet is a great deal for an indian buffet at $4. I don't like their food during dinner hours, so don't go to their buffet although my non-desi coworkers always do. I'd rather go to Ba Le and get a bahn mi for $2.25.

                                                1. re: adrienne156
                                                  jhinky Jun 16, 2007 02:43 PM

                                                  I believe it was PSB referring to $3.50 for two gulab jamuns - its been deleted though and so probably will this post so hopefully you will get to see this before that :) So true about the liver and mutton and the things they can do with it on the subcontinent's streets, sigh...
                                                  To keep this vaguely on topic - have you tried Cafe Dhaka - I was a little disappointed.

                                                  1. re: jhinky
                                                    adrienne156 Jun 16, 2007 03:27 PM

                                                    No I haven't and I'm so pissed at myself for having not gone to it yet (or Amber Indian) being that I'm so gung ho about finding good indian food that I'm going tonight. Dagnabit. Not sure to which one though... I think I'm leaning toward Cafe Dhaka as I've had this mean hankering for mishti doi for AGES and although the chow report pictures were not appetizing, Melanie says it was good.

                                                  2. re: adrienne156
                                                    psb Jun 16, 2007 04:02 PM

                                                    oh hello, the "gaye laage" [rough translation: "ouch!"]
                                                    was about paying Rs60 for a fancy coffee drink at the new
                                                    breed of cafes cropping up ... so for less money, you could get a
                                                    dosa better than any in the bay area and all you can eat sambar,
                                                    not to mention the reflection on socioeconomic factors.

                                                    btw, we all agree there is great street food, snacks etc. we agree there
                                                    are lots of great cooks in india ... also it's easy to hire a cook on sort of
                                                    an ad hoc basis there ... 20 relatives coming to stay at your house
                                                    before a wedding ... just hire somebody to cook the 7meals they will
                                                    be eating at your house [the money negotiations for this kind of thing
                                                    can be kinda funny] ... what i was saying is a lot of people implicitly
                                                    assumed the best indian restaurtants were in india [probably unambiguously
                                                    true for chinese food, perhaps only depending on how you would classify
                                                    Taiwan], but for quite some time, I think Londonistan could have given India
                                                    a run for its money when it came to "indian restaurants".

                                                    Speaking of gulub jam, and buffets, have any of you co-desis tried this place:

                                                    BTW, if you do go down to Cafe Dhaka, you might want to stop by India Cash
                                                    and Carry ... that's sort of the New May Wah of Indian Markets down there.
                                                    I believe they are one of the Alphonso Mango outlets.

                                                    1. re: adrienne156
                                                      adrienne156 Aug 14, 2007 04:45 PM

                                                      Alright, I tried it today and the verdict is that it is, er was, a good deal for $4.95. I say was because today was the last day they are offering the discount. Go figure.

                                                      They had three vegetable sabzis - potato/pea/carrot, a generic one that had eggplant (this was pretty mushy), and one with cauliflower. Only the potato/pea/carrot stood up well, but that is not to say that they did not taste good. Not great, but good enough. There was also a channa dal cooked with a kind of squash that you don't see often in restaurants (don't know the name in english... it was lau if anyone can translate). Unfortunately I didn't end up trying this one.

                                                      For the meat curries, they had a lamb curry, chicken tikka masala, and tandoori chicken. I thought the tandoori chicken was great - my biggest complaint is when it's dry and this was perfectly cooked. The other two... I was surprised that the CTM sauce was different than my last visit and much better. Before it had this velveeta-ish taste that some restaurants in the the area have, but this time you could definitely taste the tomato and it was good. Only complaint was that the piece of chicken I had didn't appear to be tandooried and had a strange rubbery texture. The lamb curry seemed soured to me, but that might have just been the style of that particular curry.

                                                      There were also vegetable pakoras (which although not hot, I liked - they seemed more like onion bhajis than vegetable pakoras), a spiced pilaf (perfectly cooked), naan (I've had better at a buffet), papadums (didn't try), salad (tomato/ice berg/red onions/cucumber), kheer (balanced spicing & creamy), and gulab jamun (very good! nice texture and warm).

                                                      We were seated quickly, a basket of naan and glasses of water appeared right away, and drinks were offered within 5 minutes of our being seated. All in all, it was a really great lunch for what was spent and the restaurant has a nice atmostphere, but I don't really know what the others in the area have to offer for $8 (regular price) plus tip. I personally would rather get a lunch special and leftovers of one thing that I really want, but then of course, I'm a fuss pot when it comes to indian food. :o)

                                                      1. re: adrienne156
                                                        Melanie Wong Aug 14, 2007 05:18 PM

                                                        Too bad it's no more. I believe that "lau" is opo squash.

                                                    2. re: jhinky
                                                      janetofreno Jun 16, 2007 07:56 AM

                                                      Of course, those who listen to me on these boards know that I'm a big Vik's fan...and personally I think its better today than it was a couple of years ago. The one good thing about those crowds is that it insures the food is freshly made.

                                                      I'm not from India, but my husband is, and he is the one that is always insisting on going to Vik's...so at least its meeting his taste expectations. The meat dishes are the least interesting to me, btw...I never eat them. And I can't remember ever having eaten the samosas...so can't comment there. The bhel puri is still one of my all time favorite dishes, and the doklha is good too. I will say that we have never been to any chaat places in the South Bay....We don't live in the Bay Area and have no family that far south.

                                                      About the talk about such good Indian places in the UK: yes, I've had good Indian food there, but just as good here. Sometimes I think the Indian food there just seems so wonderful in comparison to other meals I've eaten there...:-)

                                                      1. re: janetofreno
                                                        osho Jun 16, 2007 01:55 PM

                                                        I'd be interested in which restaurants you visited in the UK and when.
                                                        London and it's environs has a very vibrant food scene, unlike that in the 70's, or as popular opinion would have one believe.

                                                        London easily has a comparable (or better) calibre of restaurants than any other so-called food capitals of the world.

                                                        A quick glance at the London Times food section, or TopTable.co.uk will suffice to demonstrate this fact. Heston Blumenthal and Rowley Leigh are two chefs who are simply superlative.

                                                        And IMHO, Vik's is one of the worst places for chaat in the Bay Area. :-)

                                                        1. re: osho
                                                          janetofreno Jun 16, 2007 08:45 PM

                                                          It has been six years or so since I was in London...so maybe it wasn't a fair statement. But I do have family members who were there recently, and if London has a "very vibrant food scene" they apparently weren't able to afford to participate much in it....the dollar is just too weak compared to the pound for most of us to enjoy the top London restaurants....

                                                          Where do you like Chaat in the Bay Area? I haven't seen any in SF, and the only places I've tried in the East Bay other than Vik's haven't really been good. South Bay is just really too far out of my usual realm of travels unfortunately......

                                                          1. re: janetofreno
                                                            Melanie Wong Jun 16, 2007 08:50 PM

                                                            Fremont is East Bay --- I vote for Dana Bazar/Chat Patta Corner.

                                                            1. re: janetofreno
                                                              osho Jun 17, 2007 09:09 AM

                                                              Well, I share the pain of the weak dollar these days. It has only gotten worse over the past 10 years since I have been here in the new world.

                                                              If you ever go to London again, be sure to ping me. I went to a few great places and not-so-great places in March of this year.

                                                              Chaat absolutely rocks at Dana Bazaar in Fremont. If your husband likes Viks, I assure you (and I think psb and Melanie agree) he will adore the chaat at Dana Bazaar.

                              2. l
                                lintygmom Jun 15, 2007 03:43 PM

                                Really, honestly, try House of Curries on Solano. If you want a CHEAP lunch get the keema naan at $2.99 and have it with water and the free chai. It's like a delicious spiced hamburger baked in the bun. Actually, by size like TWO delicious spiced hamburgers.

                                The other food is good too, but no buffet.

                                Just like Lahore Karahi, House of Curries is really Pakistani or at least Muslim Indian. I've rarely to never seen beef on the menu of any Indian restaurant. And you won't find Goan pork vindaloo on the menu at House of Curries--but they do have some Indian dishes, like vindaloo.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: lintygmom
                                  Melanie Wong Jun 15, 2007 10:05 PM

                                  Spotted Goan pork vindaloo anywhere besides Ajanta?

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                                    lintygmom Jun 16, 2007 02:27 PM

                                    I hate to say I haven't looked, Melanie. I usually just go to House of Curries. If I want *really* good, *really* authentic Indian (dokhla to die for, spiced lamb chops of your dreams) I ask the wife of one of my husband's previous co-workers, a caterer in the Union City/Fremont area to make it. It's only fair--she first ate sweet potato pie and Thanksgiving turkey with stuffing and green bean casserole at my house!

                                    I bet she would make pork vindaloo if I asked. We could do an afternoon outdoor chowdown for ten or so at my house and have her cook!

                                2. t
                                  travelinman0009 Jun 15, 2007 06:06 PM

                                  Karma Indian Bistro in Cotati

                                  1. Lori SF Jun 16, 2007 02:05 PM

                                    I get a flyer for India's Oven for a lunch buffet the prices look good and their food is not bad.

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