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Jun 6, 2009 04:20 PM

Chola in Round Rock

Okay, we all know buffets are what they are. I tried Chola in the Home Depot strip mall on the northeast corner of 620 and IH35 in Round Rock today. It was suggested by several Indian students I work with here at UT.

My overall impression is that it's by far the best Indian buffet in town, followed a close second by the overly oily but almost as good (and authentically flavored) Sarovar on Burnet. For range finding, I would hold Chola in stark contrast to Clay Pit (the buffet at least), which I find disagreeable. My thoughts about Cholas more impressive dishes will follow what I thought was off:

No Naan? Maybe this newbie didn't find it or ask? But I saw none. Must have been an oversight. The masala fish was not a hit in my book. Looked like Tilapia. Underwhelming overall. The curried whole garlic cloves was not my favorite either, a sort of heartburn fire hot dish with little balance. Basically really kicked up stewed tomatoes and onions.

The good stuff:

The chicken biryani, divine. A little aesofetida perhaps? It has a kick but it's well balanced. It's also made with bone in chicken - the only way to really make a rich chicken biryani to me.

The Saag Paneer, best I've ever had, including 7 years eating at all the best (and worst) Indian joints in the DC Metro area. This version has lovely cubes of tender fresh cheese, but the cream is much less heavy feeling (and soupier) than most versions, and has a lovely and delicate flavor. A winner. This dish doesn't just glop into a pile on the plate like most of its siblings around town do, and actually is well suited for a little bowl.

Coconut Chutney - a tad better than Sarovar's, a little fresher with stronger coconut flavor and discernably larger chunks of nutty goodness. Has that sort of cream of wheat finish.

Stuffed grilled eggplants: delish, hot, spicy, rich with fennel / anise flavors balanced with the heat, etc. Not oily. A little charred. great.

Goat curry, solid, not overwhelmingly good.

Lentils - spicy, hot, and delicious.

Chilly Chicken - fried small breaded morsels of chicken with jalapenos and spices. Good, but a little bit geared toward the high calorie commandos in the audience.

The fried bread / cream dessert. Worth the drive alone. this is a lot like gulab jamun, but instead of balls of dough, it's little triangles of fried bread laid out in a tray and drunken with a sweet cardamon cold cream sauce. Not nearly as sweet as Gulab, and Absolutely lovely. And no, for the rose water fans, it had none. I tend to shy away from rosewater.

I'm convinced the menu must be great if the buffet is this good. Will report back after trying.

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  1. Oh no, you gave away one of the best-kept secrets in RR!

    The menu is somewhat expensive for what/how much it is (and considering the setting), though the vegetarian combination/special platter for $23 is definitely plenty for two. I usually just go for the buffet (especially around opening time - 11 am every day), which has quite a number of items (comparable to Star of India).

    The mango pudding, served frozen, is to die for.

    Also 10% discount for Dell employees and UT faculty/staff/students.

    1. Totally agree with you on the Saag, and everything else we've had has been excellent - on par with what we've had in Chicago & NYC. They do have naan, it's quite good and has just the right amount of charring. I've never actually had the buffet, but will have to try that sometime soon.

      We used to go all the time when the previous owners were there, and they had great things to say about the new (current) management. Think they're from Dallas?

      Thanks for the post!

      1 Reply
      1. re: sweetbasil

        Made it over to RR today for lunch at Chola's. Getting to this particular retail center is kind of a PITA, but I am still new to Texas love affair with the U-Turn, and with having as many names as possible for 1 road. But I digress....
        Good: Yummy Plantain dish, Goat Curry, Chicken Masala, nice selection of Chutneys
        Bad: Buffet price is kind of steep at $10 for a plate and a soda. I wasn't crazy about the Saag Paneer
        Great: Gulab! Oh man was it great!

        Overall-definitely worth a trip if you are in the area.

      2. unless they cahnged owners since the spring i live in rr and think its subpar ,i get much better food at sanovar or teji in round rock near rr high school on 620

        2 Replies
        1. re: nytexan

          I hate Teji's. It's WAY overpriced for what it is.

          1. re: conquer

            Interesting. I feel almost the complete opposite. To me, Teji's one of the most affordable in town. Most of the entrees are in the 6 to 8 dollar range seem like a good amount of food. But I understand everyone has different tastes and opinions.

            I'll have to give Chola a try the next time I'm up that way.

        2. I'm a fan of Chola, but I find the food quality to be a lot better when ordered off the dinner menu vs getting the buffet. There is naan to be had on the buffet though, so maybe it was just missing when you went?

          You can also ask your waiter for a dosa, and they'll make one for you. It's included in the buffet price.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Mike B

            Teji to us, is most authentic, we just get to go, not much for a eating area there. But they have great finds in there market! It'sOpposite of Clay Oven downtown, which was so tasteless.
            We liked Chola, but the last time it just was blah, no flavor, which I think happens here is they tone down the food for american taste, but we prefer the real deal, I can make americanized at home.
            We have not tried the buffet at chola, we are not buffet people.

            1. re: familyof3

              I concur with this. When I get a real craving for Indian food, I head for Teji's. While it isn't exactly what my mother used to make (restaurant vs. home cooked), Teji's satisifies. My parents also live quite close to Teji's, so they end up doing takeout from there at least once a week. And I don't find Teji's particularly pricey; usually I can get three entrees and 2 orders of Naan for under $30. That's not bad.

              Having said that, as buffets go, Chola is pretty good. Plus, they'll bring you a personal dosa, if you ask, and I like that.

          2. teji's is much better than chola and since they changed owners about a year ago chola has went downhill

            3 Replies
            1. re: nytexan

              OH that explains the all the sudden change I experinced at Chola.
              Had Teji last night, spot on as always-yum.

              1. re: nytexan

                Sorry, the portions are too small at Teji and served in styrofoam. Taste-wise, it was just standard southern Indian fare to me (don't understand the "raves"). Nice grocery (good price on spices, esp.) - but not much else.

                1. re: conquer

                  agreed, many of the dishes don't impress
                  but what's good is quite good

                  have you tried #45 stuffed baingan (eggplants)?
                  if you're not vegan, egg curry was good
                  if you like onions, ask for anything dopiaza
                  (even though only lamb dopiaza is on the menu)

                  by the way, the portions seem good to generous-sized compared to other places;
                  the only way i could see someone finishing one entire portion
                  is by eating much less rice than entree (they charge for rice to go, but not in the store)

                  what's your favorite indian place?