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best lunchtime indian buffets?

Snoop37 Nov 3, 2010 02:23 PM

Will be going to the greater boston area tomorrow. Just curious which places are your favorites. Thank you

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  1. t
    teezeetoo RE: Snoop37 Nov 3, 2010 02:55 PM

    if greater boston includes somerville to you, the only indian buffet I really like that is "greater boston" is at Kebab Factory.

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    The Kebab Factory
    414 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143

    6 Replies
    1. re: teezeetoo
      chefematician RE: teezeetoo Nov 3, 2010 03:24 PM

      I 2nd that. Kebab is the best I've had for lunch buffets in the area.

      1. re: teezeetoo
        Snoop37 RE: teezeetoo Nov 3, 2010 08:18 PM

        yea i accept somerville, cambridge, allston, brighton, west roxbury, dedham whichever. Just as long as i don't have to drive into the city. i hate looking for parking

        1. re: Snoop37
          Prav RE: Snoop37 Nov 3, 2010 09:09 PM

          kebab factory has a teeny tiny little parking lot behind it, too, so you should be good to go.

          1. re: Prav
            opinionatedchef RE: Prav Nov 3, 2010 10:08 PM

            prav et al, many of you have long touted Kebab Factory. i finally pulled up their menu tonight. Plse share goods/bads there. A few of the dishes I have never seen anywhere- like the eggplant and chiles with nut and tamarind sauce, and some things stufffd with or coated with 'cream cheese'. And their 'Cassata'; what's with THAT??!!( the description reads like the authentic Sicilian cassata that i make!)

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            The Kebab Factory
            414 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143

            1. re: opinionatedchef
              Nab RE: opinionatedchef Nov 4, 2010 06:29 AM

              Yeah, where the heck are these guys from ? The menu is all over the place. Keralan/Punjabi/Hyderabadi/Bengali ... Sicilian. ;) And there's booze on the menu, so prolly not Muslim. First time looking at the menu, and it is most certainly not the standard template of offerings.

              1. re: Nab
                StriperGuy RE: Nab Nov 4, 2010 06:37 AM

                Try it, you'll like it. 5 minute drive from Central Square...

      2. StriperGuy RE: Snoop37 Nov 4, 2010 06:08 AM

        Two best IMHO are Kebab Factory and Kathmandu Spice.

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        The Kebab Factory
        414 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143

        Kathmandu Spice
        166 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

        1. BerkeleyPowerGrip RE: Snoop37 Nov 4, 2010 08:48 AM

          Tamarind Bay in Harvard Sq has a great Indian lunch buffet. Slight twists on the standards, fresh ingredients, tasty, tasty, tasty. Best for lunch - I find their dinners a bit off.

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          Tamarind Bay
          75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

          1. f
            FoodDabbler RE: Snoop37 Nov 4, 2010 09:07 AM

            Kebab Factory may have the best buffet around, although I'm not as big a fan as Striper. See http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7403... . Also see http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6978... for a comment on Cafe of India and other posts on Indian buffets.

            I disagree that Tamarind Bay is not good for dinner (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4927...  and followup below it and general comments on Indian restaurants in the U.S. above it). 

            The dinner menu at KF is pretty conventionally pan-Indian -- a bit from this region and a bit from that. There's a lot of overlap with the menus at Cafe of India, Diva, etc. I particularly object, incidentally, to places that list sauces (curry, korma, vindaloo, etc.) and offer choices of meat and seafood to go in them. It's clear the sauce and the contents have been cooked separately.

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            Tamarind Bay
            75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

            The Kebab Factory
            414 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143

            Cafe of India
            52 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138

            15 Replies
            1. re: FoodDabbler
              opinionatedchef RE: FoodDabbler Nov 4, 2010 09:16 AM

              this is a very odd thing you have said, FD. I'm guessing you are not Indian? As far as I have always known, Indian restnt sauces are always made separately from their meat.(which allows for one to purchase them separately, as i often do). Sauces and their meats are combined and cooked together for a relatively short while before the dish is served.

              1. re: opinionatedchef
                f
                FoodDabbler RE: opinionatedchef Nov 4, 2010 09:33 AM

                That may be how mediocre Indian restaurants make their food, but it is not how Indian food is traditionally made. The flavor comes precisely from simmering of meat/fish and spices together, with the particular spice combination, cooking liquid, and cooking times chosen to go with the contents. Vindaloo, for example, is a vinegar-garlic combination that's meant to be cooked slowly with fatty meat (such as pork belly) not a general-purpose sauce that can be slathered onto anything.

                My credentials are partly presented here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4927... (the only change I'd make to that post is that my opinion of Tamarind Bay is now higher).

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                Tamarind Bay
                75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                1. re: FoodDabbler
                  opinionatedchef RE: FoodDabbler Nov 4, 2010 08:19 PM

                  FD, you continue to confuse me. Of Course homemade Indian food is not made that way. That's true of homemade food from any country; it's pretty much all made a la minute.
                  But you believe that only mediocre indian restaurants make up their sauces in advance? If so, then you are just plain misinformed. The in-advance cooking may, for meats that need long simmering, include the entire dish cooking in advance (vindaloo, boeuf bourgignon, etc.) but otherwise, as with chicken tikka masala, the sauce is made up in advance.

                  1. re: opinionatedchef
                    f
                    FoodDabbler RE: opinionatedchef Nov 4, 2010 10:59 PM

                    You're setting up a straw FoodDabbler, then trying to knock him down. I'm not talking about "in advance" vs "a la minute" (whatever you mean by that). I'm talking about cooking a sauce independently of its contents. I specifically mentioned vindaloo as an example. It's impossible to cook a proper vindaloo independent of the meat in it, and the particular spices and liquids used in its preparation are carefully and precisely chosen to pair well with fatty meat. A restaurant that offers vindaloo as a generic category, then offers a choice of beef, lamb, shrimp and so forth to go with it is clearly making up some sauce independent of the beef, lamb, shrimp and so forth, then mixing things together at the end. That's not how the dish is correctly made, not just at home but also at good restaurants. I realize that many Indian restaurants in the U.S. do exactly this last minute mixing with vindaloos, kormas, etc. That's why they are bad restaurants. Just because many places do it does not make it right. The fact of the matter is that much Indian restaurant food in the U.S. is a corruption of what Indian food really is (not just in Indian homes, but also in restaurants in India).

                    It would be like a French restaurant offering a category called "au vin", another called "bourguignon", etc., then offering coq, boeuf, crevette, etc., as choices under each. Even a thousand places doing it won't make it right. It will just mean that they are bad restaurants.

                    I offer Tamarind Bay as a local example of a restaurant that seems to cook its sauced dishes the way they are meant to be cooked. Guru the Caterer, the few times I went there last year, also cooked dishes with meat and sauce together instead of having piles of meat, chicken, shrimp, etc., that were mixed at the end with a sauce of your choice.

                    You mention chicken tikka masala. It's a peculiar dish and is one of the few exceptions to the rule. The dish originated as "butter chicken" in the restaurant Moti Mahal in New Delhi around 60 years ago, before it was popularized internationally by the following it developed in Britain. Although chicken has been cooked in tandoor ovens since the 1300s in Arab countries, the modern version was introduced at Moti Mahal around 1950. It quickly became popular. The restaurant made large quantities and was left inevitably at nights with quantities of leftover tandoori chicken. Rather than let them go to waste, a dish was invented with the chopped up leftovers immersed in a buttery, creamy, tomatoey sauce. It's the rare example in Indian food of a cooked meat being mixed with sauce at the end.

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                    Tamarind Bay
                    75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                    1. re: FoodDabbler
                      opinionatedchef RE: FoodDabbler Nov 6, 2010 10:59 PM

                      FD, perhaps i'm not communicating as clearly as I thought.(Btw, a la minute is a french cooking term for " at the last minute/ on the spot" ). I DO understand what you say about vindaloo and other dishes that require the protein to be long cooked (as in boeuf bourgignon)with its sauce. But certainly that is true of beef and lamb, (of which tougher cuts are usually used), and not of ( boned) chicken and seafood, which should cook only briefly in their sauce. Yes? I would guess that because beef and lamb need long cooking with their sauces, the Indian chefs in U.S. restaurants- cook batches of these dishes every day (just like a french chef would cook a big batch of boeuf bourgignon) and have on hand extra sauce for the last minute sauteeing and brief cooking with sauce- of boned cubed chicken and seafood. don't you think? and that makes culinary sense to me. I can't imagine that beef and lamb in sauce- are combined at the last minute; otherwise, you would have pretty darn tough meat.

                      i have no doubt that Indian food in India must be far superior to U.S. indian food. I have never met a Desi or visiting Indian who said otherwise. I have always felt that Indian food in the U.S. , now, is a bit like Chinese food was in the U.S. before Joyce Chen ( who introduced Americans to Szechuan food which eventually led the way to other chinese styles being introduced.)

                      I mean, India is so huge ; each of its 28 states having their own distinct cooking style and dishes. in the U.S., 99.999% of Indian restaurants are Punjabi based and have the same menu items. What a vast catalogue of dishes we have never been exposed to... sigh.Well, we are lucky that Southern Indian cuisine has been creeping in, at least in MA.

                      1. re: opinionatedchef
                        Prav RE: opinionatedchef Nov 7, 2010 07:38 AM

                        Actually, FoodDabbler is right, most saucy Indian meat dishes are simmered slooooowly in their sauces, making them tender, saturated in flavor, and delicious. Sauce and meat are not traditionally combined at a later time (but is probably a real time saver in a restaurant, as we've said above).

                        1. re: opinionatedchef
                          Nab RE: opinionatedchef Nov 7, 2010 11:59 AM

                          OC, with respect to the chicken dishes, are you asking whether the same sauce from a long-cooked beef/lamb dish might be used for a chicken dish to prepare to order ? I think that's what you're asking. Some restaurants might do this, but that's probably not where you want to dine. There is obviously a flavour imparted by the meat which is not supposed to be mixed with another meat. The other thing is that, while many US restaurants offer your choice of meat with the same sauce, many of these sauces are meant to accompany only a specific meat. As FoodDabbler notes, fatty pork with vindaloo, for example. Chicken or shrimp vindaloo is a bastardized version of the dish (not saying it can't be tasty). Just like you wouldn't traditionally see beef jalfrezi. Many restaurants prepare their chicken dishes in their own sauce, in batches. It does not take long, and multiple batches are made in the day, prior to lunch, prior to dinner. And the same is actually true for beef and lamb and goat dishes at many restaurants. Crank out batches of each in the morning in time for lunch, and do the same in time for dinner. This is common in the typical Punjabi American restaurants. I have experienced the same-tasting sauce in every dish at some Indian restaurants and they are probably doing what you have suggested above -- just use the same sauce over and over with various meats. This an affront to the cuisine. Everything is not supposed to taste like chicken tikka masala.

                          1. re: Nab
                            opinionatedchef RE: Nab Nov 7, 2010 12:31 PM

                            that is not what i am suggesting. I AM suggesting that in u.s. restnts:
                            * a MASTER vindaloo sauce is made on its own..
                            * it is cooked w/ beef or lamb a long time because the meat needs to tenderize.
                            * it is combined with sauteed chicken or seafood for a brief cooking period and earlier in the day, OR closer to the service time, because those proteins cannot withstand long cooking.

                            i am not suggesting that it is proper to serve seafood with a vindaloo sauce. I am only addressing HOW u.s. restnts deal with cooking sauces and proteins separately, together, in advance, etc. This approach to preparing restnt dishes- strikes me as normal, not a heresy, but FD ascertains that only BAD u.s. indian restnts do this. That assertion makes no sense to me.If FD thinks that GOOD u.s. indian restnts(where plse?) prepare and cook sauce and protein together a la minute( just before service), that is just not true.

                            1. re: opinionatedchef
                              StriperGuy RE: opinionatedchef Nov 7, 2010 12:56 PM

                              Take a deeeeeeeeeep breath everything is going to be okay.

                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                opinionatedchef RE: StriperGuy Nov 7, 2010 02:22 PM

                                hey stripes, can you be an on-call soother/calmer?!! like- beyond CH??

                              2. re: opinionatedchef
                                Nab RE: opinionatedchef Nov 7, 2010 01:06 PM

                                Gotcha. Yes, what you have bulleted out happens in restaurants. I'm sure there are examples of this practice that result in tasty dishes. India Quality's menu reads kinda like that - eg, lamb vindaloo, chicken vindaloo, shrimp vindaloo, beef vindaloo. People tend to love IQ. Perhaps they employ this practice, I don't know, nor can I recall how their vindaloo is.

                                Having seen the operations of several desi restaurants (not in Boston), I can tell you that there are restaurants that cook each dish on its own. These restaurants tend not to offer a hundred curries with every protein permutation, obviously.

                                My only point is that not all restaurants employ this practice of master saucing, and it is certainly not the traditional method of preparing these dishes, whether that be in the home or in the restaurant. But as we've debated ad nauseum on this board before, non-traditional is allowed to be tasty, too.

                                -----
                                India Quality Restaurant
                                484 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                1. re: Nab
                                  StriperGuy RE: Nab Nov 7, 2010 04:24 PM

                                  I personally find IQ a TOTAL bore. Do not understand what people see in that place.

                                2. re: opinionatedchef
                                  f
                                  FoodDabbler RE: opinionatedchef Nov 7, 2010 02:04 PM

                                  I've said what I wanted to say as clearly as I can, so I won't repeat myself. I simply want to observe that nowhere did I say that good restaurants cook sauce and meat together "just before service", only that they do cook them together. I've already offered Tamarind Bay and Guru as examples of local establishments that do the right thing.

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                                  Tamarind Bay
                                  75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                  2. re: FoodDabbler
                    t
                    teezeetoo RE: FoodDabbler Nov 7, 2010 02:48 AM

                    you have a knack for not answering the question and using it as a jumping off point for showing your strangely minutia driven food knowledge. the OP wants to know where to get a good indian buffet lunch. i actually wish you would post your "cooking lessons" on the "encyclopedia" board.

                    1. re: teezeetoo
                      f
                      FoodDabbler RE: teezeetoo Nov 7, 2010 06:12 AM

                      We can't always get what we wish.

                      (As for not answering the OPs question, I refer you to the opening sentences of my first post on this thread.)

                  3. b
                    baldbert RE: Snoop37 Nov 4, 2010 09:31 AM

                    Yes folks, that would Kebab Factory by a mile. Second best?

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                    The Kebab Factory
                    414 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: baldbert
                      GretchenS RE: baldbert Nov 4, 2010 09:39 AM

                      In my book, second best would be Kathmandu Spice but agree that Kebab Factory is the best.

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                      The Kebab Factory
                      414 Washington St, Somerville, MA 02143

                      Kathmandu Spice
                      166 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

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