Which is the best Indian spot in Central Square?
Who serves the best lunch buffet and which one has the best overall menu? Thanks in advance.
The lunch buffets are all pretty "enh" and really aren't very exciting. Royal Bengal is the easy winner for dinner, and I'd give it the lunch buffet prize too, because there just isn't any strong competition.
as a central square resident, i can say that whenever i want indian food, i go to Royal Bengal. the buffet is very good, especially on weekends when they add goat and fish to the available dishes. if you go at night, i'd advise ordering exclusively off the Bengal menu, which is a seperate couple of pages from the rest of the menu... they do these dishes much better. But they also excel at fish. Try the fish pakora for sure... the breading they use is something I crave. It may be made with egg...?
Haven't tried Royal Bengal yet, but I'll suggest avoiding the rest, which range from mediocre (India Pavilion) to downright awful (Shalimar). You're much better off heading to Kebab Factory (on the Somerville/Cambridge line between Inman and Porter Squares), Namaskar (Davis Square in Somerville) or Tamarind Bay, Cafe of India, or Tanjore (Harvard Square).
Royal Bengal is my favorite in/near Central Square, for lunch buffet and dinner. I actually like their Indian stuff in addition to their Bengali menu, in fact the chicken tikka masala is delicious--very red and rich. I've noticed a bit of inconsistency over the past year or so, however.
India Pavilion is my second choice, good but not spectacular, and again inconsistent. Sometimes the vindaloo is great.
I've tried all the others at least once, and I agree they're not so good.
Here's the secret about Central Square Indian restaurants. They are all connected by underground tunnels that lead to a single giant kitchen where the food for all of the restaurants is cooked by the same chef before it's whisked above ground to the various buffets. I'm kidding, but you get the point: if you want better than average Indian food and anything with a remotely distinctive character, skip Central Square and go elsewhere (I like Kebab Factory a lot and enjoy both of the Davis Square Indians, just to name three).
I like Royal Bengal, too, a rare Bengali Indian in Greater Boston. In that general neighborhood, I also like Punjabi Dhaba in Inman, very good and very cheap, a real truckstop kind of place (steel compartmented food trays). Venture a little further afield, and you can hit the Kebab Factory across the street from Dali. I've had some great experiences at Tamarind Bay in Harvard Square, but have not been lately, ditto for the nearby Tanjore, which has good Southern dishes like dosas.
re: MC Slim JB
Totally agree, Punhabi Dhaba rocks! It's supposed to be like a roadside stand or trick stop, which I love - it looks tiny but there are seats upstairs. The food is good and you get all the little side accompaniments on the metal tray compartments -raita, chutney, pickle etc. (I made the mistake first time of ordering big sides of raita and chutney for table to share, which was unnecessary). The dosa (big flat bread/pancake with sambar (a spicy veg soup accompaniment) was amazing. I really like south Indian food which is quite different from typical Northern. I had a daily special of chicken with coconut and other stuff - yum! Must say I'm addicted to golub jamun - those little milk powder dough balls in the honey rosewater flavor syrup are just so good even though the idea of it sounds sickeningly sweet to me.
Haven't eaten at Royal Bengal, but will try it. I like Bengali fish dishes had in past at other places.
It depends on what you're in the mood for, since as you know, Indian food is extremely diverse.
For dinner, I've always enjoyed the baigan bharta at Royal Bengal, even though it's not as mustardy sharp as the one at Bengal Cafe near Davis Sq., which also serves Bengali food. I also enjoy their banana blossom curry. Bengal is known for the sweetness of their desserts, be sure to try the mishti dol, a caramelized milk yogurt. If you wnat more food of tis genre, I'd suggest checking out Ashanti in Dorchester (caveat: only been to their late Mass Ave branch) which has Bangladeshi roots.
At Kebab Factory, the best items are probably the Punjabi vegetable dishes, and also the kebabs (duh *grin*).
Tanjore has decent but not great Southern Indian dishes and will do in a pinch, the dishes are diverse, but it's a bit like going to a "European" restaurant instead of a place that serves just French, Italian or Spanish food.