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Turmeric in Sunnyvale – Wins the Bollywood Oscars for Best Buffet and Best Non-Buffet Meals

k
katya May 1, 2008 01:24 PM

BEST INDIAN FOOD IN THE BAY AREA

Seriously. And it wins in both the buffet and dinner service categories. They simply serve some of the tastiest Indian food out there, PLUS they make a lot of unique dishes you won’t find elsewhere. In addition, the use good quality meats and fresh flavors, and deliver exceptional service.

I love their $12.95 dinner buffet (Fri. - Sun. only). (Their lunch buffet is $10.95 which is a good deal.) It's not the biggest around (like Bombay Garden or Passage to India), but it's the tastiest.
Here's why:

1) Make your own papdi chaat bar. They provide the "fixins" like the fried round balls as a base, then you pile on raw onions, cooked potato, chickpeas, yogurt sauce, cilantro, tamarind, and mint. (I've never seen this at a buffet before.)

2) Gobi Mussalam. I've never had this dish anywhere else but it consist of giant mounts of baked cauliflower topped with sliced almonds. So good. Even though they rotate dishes this one is almost always in the buffet.

3) Potato and spinach cakes (when they have them).

4) Good quality meat in the boti kabob or malai chicken or whatever they call it. The husband thinks it's a little bland. Even if you think so you can just put some sauce on it from another dish.

5) Lots of great vegetarian dishes to choose from.

6) Everything is well labeled. The servers are super quick to whisk your dirty plates away. (In fact, I think they provide the best buffet service anywhere.) They also keep many of the entrees in covered dishes so they don't get cold or dry out. (Unfortunately the tandoori chicken was dried out because none of the patrons were keeping the lid down like they did for other dishes.)

Last night's buffet also included (not a complete list):
-Goat curry with bones
-Dal
-Chicken Makhni (very good; love the sauce)
-Naan (in the buffet but covered)
-Saffron rice
-Chana masala
-Tandoori vegetables
-Chili chicken (Admittedly I'm not a huge fan of this dish; here's it's apparently one of the chef's specialties and it's served on a huge platter and it's pretty spicy)
-Fruit platter with pineapple, canteloupe, honeydew (It was sitting out too long but at least they provided fruit that went beyond the usual orange slices)
-Saag with corn
-Veggie pakora (or pakoda) (cold)
-Raita
-Mango pudding (a little heavy)
-Gulab jamun

The buffet moves from upstairs to downstairs depending on which room is hosting a private party.

I've also ordered dishes off the menu and Turmeric again is amazing. The veggie samosa was easily the best I've ever had. Unfortunately I don't think the gobi mussalam is on the menu ("cauliflower curry" is not the same dish). Last time we ordered off the menu I think we got the Aloo Dum Chutneywala and it was yum-MY. (Unfortunately it’s been awhile since we ordered off the menu – otherwise I’d elaborate - but I remember being blown away.)

My Current Indian Buffet Rankings:
1) TURMERIC, Sunnyvale
2) Passage to India, Mountain View
3) Priya, Berkeley
4) Bombay Garden, Sunnyvale
5) Mehak, Berkeley
6) Sargam, Walnut Creek
7) Mayuri, Santa Clara
8) Maharaja?, Mtn View --- on Castro St., can't remember name but it's not Sue's, maybe Godavari?
9) Tandoori Mahal, San Francisco
10) Taj, Sunnyvale
11) Khana Peena, Berkeley
12) Sahib, Richmond
13) Swarna,Walnut Creek
14) Mezbaan, Santa Clara
15) Grand Indian Buffet, Sunnyvale
16) Tandoori Bites, San Jose
17) India Palace, Berkeley
18) Raj, Oakland
19) Nawab, San Mateo
20) Udupi Palace, Sunnyvale

Turmeric Restaurant
141 South Murphy Avenue
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Phone : 408-617-9100
www.turmericrestaurant.com

Not a lot of recent in depth posts about Turmeric, but there is this one from 2003:
Spice Flight Dinner at Turmerik, Sunnyvale
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/24504

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  1. RWCFoodie May 1, 2008 03:41 PM

    katya, thanks so much for your review and list of Indian restaurants. I love the idea of a "Make your own papdi chaat bar" - I could make a meal of just that by itself... Just curious, a friend recently was telling me about Chandni Restaurant in Newark. Have you tried it? If so, what did you think of it?

    http://www.chandnirestaurant.com/inde...

    -----
    Chandni Restaurant
    5748 Mowry School Rd, Newark, CA 94560

    1 Reply
    1. re: RWCFoodie
      k
      katya May 1, 2008 05:31 PM

      I haven't been to Chandni in Newark. I'll put that on my radar for Indian restaurants to check out!

    2. j
      jsaimd May 1, 2008 06:06 PM

      I have to agree - we have loved Tumeric, but it is rich. As is Bombay Garden. We do Passage when I am not in the mood for something rich, but I don't like the food there as much. The desserts at Tumeric are substandard though. Amber buffet is up there to, but only a lunch buffet and they do a chaat bar.

      3 Replies
      1. re: jsaimd
        k
        katya May 5, 2008 06:40 PM

        I haven't been to Amber's lunch buffet yet. I've heard it's $14 which is more expensive than every other restaurant's dinner buffet! I really like Amber Cafe but was unimpressed with Amber India when we ordered off the menu. I know I should try the Amber buffet eventually - I didn't realize they had a chaat bar.

        I don't think of Turmeric's food (or Bombay Garden for that matter) as all that rich. Then again, I mostly eat vegetarian dishes so I miss most of the dishes with a cream sauce (usually the meat ones).

        1. re: katya
          c
          Claudette May 6, 2008 01:16 PM

          katya - I've had both lunch and dinner at Amber India (Mt. View), and while the dinner was fine, the lunch is amazing. The lunch buffet at Amber Santana Row was not nearly as interesting nor tasty - they might use the same recipes, but have vastly different cooks.

          1. re: katya
            s
            samse Jul 25, 2008 10:25 PM

            First, thank you for this thread. After reading this thread a friend and I tried the lunch buffet at Turmeric last Saturday. We arrived at the stroke of 12 noon and, with the exception of another party of two, had the whole place and buffet line to ourselves. It only took a few minutes for the place to fill up and the line to get and stay at about 10 deep.

            We know very little about Indian cuisine let alone regional differences and were really surprised how spicy the majority of items were, a plus for one of us but a minus for my the other. The majority of dishes were chicken this day.

            The tariff? $29 + tip for the both of us and that included two mango lassis (sp?) which I consider very reasonable. Most of the diners were well dressed Indian families. I just wish we would have asked one them for a little advice in the buffet line. A couple more visits and we'll be ready to order from the menu

        2. rworange May 5, 2008 11:43 PM

          link

          -----
          Turmeric Restaurant
          141 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

          1. c
            Claudette May 6, 2008 01:19 PM

            Katya - Amber India Mt. View's lunch buffet is much better than its dinner and better than Amber Santana Row's lunch buffet.

            There are two new ones in Santa Clara: Peacock at El Camino x Kiely (amazing eggplant curry) and one next to St. John's Grill on Lawrence (starts w/ an "M"; I haven't been there yet, but friends tell me it's really good).

            6 Replies
            1. re: Claudette
              k
              katya May 6, 2008 06:20 PM

              The one near St. John's Grill is Madubhan I think. I've been wanting to try it. I've heard the interior is much nicer than it appears from the outside. I saw a 10% off coupon in The Metro or The Wave. I'm hoping one appears again so it'll prompt me to go. (What I'll do to save a buck!)

              I'll look into Peacock.

              1. re: katya
                c
                Claudette May 7, 2008 10:17 AM

                Madhuban's the one, alright. Please report back if you go. TIA.

              2. re: Claudette
                k
                katya May 6, 2008 06:24 PM

                I just looked up Peacock on Yelp.

                Out of 10 reviews here is the breakdown
                5 stars - 1 vote
                4 stars - 3 votes
                2 stars - 1 vote
                1 star - 5 votes

                Yikes. Have any Chowhounders been there?

                1. re: katya
                  c
                  Claudette May 7, 2008 10:16 AM

                  I went for lunch last week, and the food was just okay - I'd give it 3 stars except for the eggplant (5 stars) and the naan (2 stars). Service was friendly, and I think it was $11 or $12, but in a group it's hard to tell because the tip is consolidated, and some order lassis, some don't, etc.

                2. re: Claudette
                  d
                  danielmaung May 8, 2008 03:58 PM

                  i can't agree more. We love Amber in Mt. View but the lunch buffet we had last time at the Santa Row location was a disaster. The chicken was dry and the salad looked sad. Service was almost non-existent even though there were only 3-4 tables at the time. We'll stick with the original.

                  1. re: danielmaung
                    j
                    jsaimd May 8, 2008 04:17 PM

                    Repeat that sentiment. Food was definitely not up to the standards of the Mountain View location. And Santana Row is more expensive and they charged over $10 for each of our kids (3 and 5 years old).

                3. d
                  danielmaung May 8, 2008 03:54 PM

                  I like Tumeric and frequently take my customers there for the lunch buffet. However, I think the quality of naan and tandoori at Kebab and Currys' buffet are much better. K&C's buffet has only 6-7 items compared to a dozen or more at Tumeric but K&C's prices are also lower - $8 for lunch buffet. You're certainly not going to impress any customers with K&C's decor although they might get a kick out of a restaurant in the middle of a quiet suburban residential neighborhood.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: danielmaung
                    c
                    Claudette May 8, 2008 04:57 PM

                    When in Indian restos, my picky teenager only orders tandoori, naan, and masala dosas. She votes K&C's naan and tandoori the best. She likes Athidi's masala dosa the best. I agree with her assessments, even though I'm a biryani freak.

                    1. re: Claudette
                      k
                      katya May 8, 2008 05:20 PM

                      I like Kabab and Currys, too, although I don't get the lunch buffet. Here's my review:

                      Kabab and Currys in Santa Clara: This Place Is a Total (Halal) Sausage Factory
                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                      It seems like there aren't that many Indian or Pakistani places in the South Bay lately that do good tandoori chicken breast kabobs (it's always non tandoori meat covered in sauce anymore). Kebab and Currys is one of the best.

                      1. re: Claudette
                        j
                        jsaimd May 8, 2008 07:32 PM

                        How does Athidi compare to Madras Cafe for the dosa type fare?

                        1. re: jsaimd
                          k
                          katya May 9, 2008 04:22 PM

                          My favorite dosas are at Udupi Palace (Sunnyvale location), but the buffet is one of my least faves.

                          1. re: katya
                            c
                            Claudette May 13, 2008 01:49 AM

                            Have you tried Dosa Place, next to Russell's Furniture on ECR x Bowe's? The paper dosa kept me busy for a long time. The spicing of the masala dosa wasn't special, but you can't beat the variety and the price.

                            1. re: Claudette
                              k
                              katya May 13, 2008 06:59 PM

                              Is that the place that opened in the old Di Cicco's spot? If so I noticed that it opened around Christmas. I've been meaning to try it.

                              What do you mean exactly when you say that the paper dosa kept you busy for a long time?

                              1. re: katya
                                c
                                Claudette May 13, 2008 11:50 PM

                                It's less than half as thick as a regular rice/lentil dosa, but counterintuitively, it takes longer to chew it because it's so delicate, crisp, and thin. Delicous but greasy, and surprisingly filling (probably because of the oil). Although I'm a fast eater, my companions had to help me finish mine after they were done with theirs. I didn't even get to touch my potatoes, and had to take them home. There's a paper dosa option w/o the masala, which I'll do next time.

                        2. re: Claudette
                          d
                          danielmaung May 9, 2008 03:49 PM

                          My Indian/bangladashi friends told me that K&C's goat biryani is excellent
                          but they only make it on certain days. I have not been fortunate enough
                          to try it last couple of times i went there for dinner.
                          Any other biryani spots that are your favorites?

                          1. re: danielmaung
                            c
                            ceekskat May 9, 2008 08:29 PM

                            I too have heard rave reviews of K&C's biriyani. I should make it down there one these days for that (only had their buffets & it's been a while). I used to go to their buffet just for the tandoori chicken & naan. I've tried biriyani at Amber, Shalimar, Shan, Hyderabad House, & Taste Buds. Amber's was flavorful but had too many whole spices left in the rice to enjoy the meal & the rest were okay (some oily, some dry, etc.) In summary, there is probably none better than K&C, at least in a restaurant.

                      2. e
                        ekandgh May 11, 2008 11:48 PM

                        Katya--Definitely agree with your comments. Tumeric has excellent food and has good variety for their buffet. Appreciate that they change up the buffet offerings fairly regularly...love it when they offer the goat curry on the buffet! Off the menu is excellent as well, especially love the Aloo Dum Chutneywala (hallowed out potato stuffed with nuts and raisins immersed in a creamy mint sauce). The chef told us this is his original dish. Agree with the other posters about Amber India...good for lunch buffet, specially their butter chicken but for my money I'd pick Tumeric over Amber anyday.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ekandgh
                          k
                          katya May 12, 2008 05:56 PM

                          I ate at Turmeric again last night. They were serving their dinner buffet for $19.95 instead of the usual $12.95 for Mother's Day. They sort of claimed that they were serving more dishes and more special ones, but it seemed like the same amount of dishes or just slightly more than usual.

                          I recognized most of the dishes from previous dishes, but it seemed like they picked my favorites ones just for the buffet. We noted a couple new standouts - a particularly good kofte (I'm not usually a fan of this dish either) and a potato dum (not chutneywala) with fenugreek. We seriously stuffed ourselves, and we had the nice second floor patio room to ourselves.

                          So I hated that the buffet cost more, BUT the food was even better than usual, so it all balanced out.

                        2. RWCFoodie May 18, 2008 10:55 AM

                          katya, I might be missing this, but is the papdi chaat bar part of the lunch buffet or just dinner? I can't seem to find that info on their web site... I really appreciate your posts/rankings of Indian restos!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: RWCFoodie
                            k
                            katya May 19, 2008 06:07 PM

                            I haven't actually been to Turmeric for their lunch buffet, but I can say definitively it's always a part of their dinner buffet.

                            And thanks for your kind words!

                          2. tanspace Jul 25, 2008 10:42 PM

                            I've had Chicken Manchurian there once during buffet and it was definitely very good - exactly like the taste that I had in India. I went back a couple more times for it but did not see it again. Not sure if it can be requested or not.

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