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Central Square Indian

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There's no shortage of Indian restaurants in Central Square, but I'm at a loss about which to try. It seems they all offer the same $8.95 lunch buffet and hang the same faded c. 1985 Boston Phoenix review in their windows. Are there any standouts in the crowd?

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  1. Unfortunately, no. They are all pretty mediocre.

    1. No. The buffet places suck, the Dosa Factory sucks, the refrigerator case foods at the grocery stores are pretty crap overall.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Luther

        Granted it is not a buffet, but I think the dosas at Dosa Factory are actually pretty tasty. But then, I am a novice when it comes to eating dosas. Where else should I try them to compare?

        1. re: hungryphd

          Dosas should be light and crispy. The dosas at DF are chewy and greasy, and the coconut sambal is watery and flavorless. In the area, try Dosa Temple

      2. Agreed. They all stink.

        1. Not Indian but with some buffet items that are Indian-esque, take a look at Rangzen Tibetan. It's a cozy spot and the lunch buffet is very popular. It's one of my favorites in the square.

          1 Reply
          1. re: digga

            I love the AYCE lunch buffet there. Food is simple, plain, really wholesome and a great value for your lunch dollar. It's not like your typical buffet where you mostly get grease and starch. It's lots of simple food like roasted chicken parts, asparagus, fruit salad, dal, delicious pancakey steamed bread, and they've got those delicious Tibetan sauces.

          2. When we are in the mood for Indian it's either Royal Bengal or India Pavilion. Dosa Factory and India Castle are the only others that we have tried and have no interest in returning. Rangzen is good for the buffet, but I don't like it for take out.

            1. Thanks for the responses everyone - too bad the Indian options appear middling at best. How about the Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurant on Mass Ave, any thoughts on how this compares to Addis up the road near Porter?

              2 Replies
              1. re: ericd74

                They're both unremarkable and crappy in comparison to my favorite (Habesha)

                1. re: Luther

                  I haven't been for a few years, but if it hasn't changed substantially, Asmara isn't crappy.

                  It is to Eritrean food what Picante next door is to Mexican food. Decent, all the basics and a few special things, not anything that will make you call home but nothing objectionable.

                  For an $8.95 lunch in Central, I would go to Life Alive. I'm a total late adopter on that one--because of the name and premise, I just rolled my eyes until I finally tried it. It is really delicious.

              2. My favorite is Royal Bengal. They have a little more interesting spicing and usually a better selection of vegetables.

                The others are okay, but I think it all depends on your needs. Are you looking for a decent lunch option in the area or are you looking for an exciting or interesting food experience? If it's the former, I think these places can still be of some use. Some general rules: the food is all mild and there isn't even an obvious way to add heat besides the onion chutney. Not only is it mild, it is not even that well seasoned (there's a sameness to the various stews, curries etc.) The only meat, almost without fail, is chicken. There is a sameness to the vegetable choices - usually a dull saag, some chickpeas in sauce, maybe some cauliflower if you're lucky. Peas, potato.

                But here's what you can reliably do - get a plate with some rice and some freshly made nan. A few pieces of tandoori chicken (hopefully moist), a little salad for contrast (lettuce, cuke), some plain raita, maybe a little dal or a chickpea dish, maybe a pakora or two with tamarind sauce, or a samosa. Some rice pudding for desert. In other words, you can usually make up a sort of chicken and rice plate and have a decent lunch. Then you can consider the rest of the stuff (chicken tikka masala, curries, veg korma, saag etc.) as just extra, to try at your own risk. It's not ever going to be inedible, just sort of uninspired (and the chicken will often be dry.) There might even be a pleasant surprise.

                So in my opinion, you shouldn't rule them out if you eat lunch out regularly in Central Sq and you're just looking for some more options.

                4 Replies
                1. re: deglazer

                  Well said

                  1. re: deglazer

                    This is a good strategy if you find yourself eating Indian food in Central Square beyond your control. Otherwise, I am convinced there truly is *nothing* worth seeking out in this category, and I say this as an eternal optimist who generally believes there is a gem lurking somewhere on every menu. This Indian food is easily the worst I have experienced anywhere. I have a colleague who has never met a morsel of food he didn't like and I have it filed away to mark the occasion that on 21-Sept-2011 Paul actually had a bad meal (baingan bharta) for the first time in his 50 yrs of life. And it was Indian food in Central Square. I fell off my chair, as I often cite it as *the* distinguishing feature of Central Square - the place to find the worst Indian food on the entire planet in the history of the universe.

                    If you have a hankering for something subcontinentally spicy, without a doubt you should be lunching at Rangtzen as suggested upthread. In fact, you should be lunching there anyway. That place is the best and once bikini season is officially over I will get back to the buddha buffet multiple times a week. Earning a few karma points is an added bonus.

                    1. re: Nab

                      Definitely agree that Rangtzen is superior, though I've had plenty of bland and unremarkable dishes there too.

                    2. re: deglazer

                      For that kind of buffet I'm fond of India Palace in Union Square. Sometimes all I want is comfort food: chicken tikka masala, saag paneer, samosas, naan, and a mango lassi. They've been dependable for that, though I haven't been in a while.

                      Does anyone else remember India Globe (same block as the Middle East)? It was our go-to Indian when we first moved to the area in '95. I remember it being really good, but (comfort-food cravings aside) I've also broadened my Indian food tastes since then so that may just be nostalgia. When the Globe closed we tried to find a Central Square replacement, but nothing measured up. After a truly awful buffet at one joint, including Bisquick naan that tasted bad, we gave up on the area.

                    3. My theory of longstanding is that there is a single kitchen somewhere underground that sends the same food to all the Indian restaurants in Central Square.

                      1. how about going to the middle east? or even Mary Chung is ok in a pinch.

                        a step up from central square indian dining.