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Asiana versus Daawat - Indian Lunch Buffet Stars

Buffet haters ignore. Austin has stepped up a couple notches for the quality of its indian buffet fare over the past few years with Asiana's opening in S. Austin. They serve a quality lunch lineup for a reasonable price. I love Asiana for what they do well - especially the goat biryani that usually shows up on Tuesday. But Daawat (Parmer and I35, in front of HEB) has sufficiently improved and impressed me and a colleague (grew up in Bombay) to tie or even surpass Asiana. According to him, it's northern-focused with some S. Indian offerings - and is his clear favorite in town. We now typically go to one or the other for lunch once per week. Daawat also serves goat biryani on Tues / Thurs and it's equally outstanding. But their naan is made fresh and brought to the table (best in town, for sure) and they often have gobi manchurian (great version), some type of chicken curry, a far superior version of chili chicken, and their chicken tikka masala is tandoor roasted dark meat versus the comparably dry breast meat served at Asiana. Actually all their chicken dishes are better in this regard than Asiana's. Typically they have a very nice coconut / veg (usually green beans or cabbage), and on the non goat days a tasty chicken biryani. tandoor chicken is excellent. They do lack Asiana's better desert fare, especially the cooling rice pudding / kheer.

For perspective, I'm quite sure I've eaten at least twice at every other competitor in Austin and learned an appreciation for indian food at standouts in the DC metro for 7 years. Honorable mentions that don't compete with the aforementioned for my tastes are:

* # 2 is Chola's - the Asiana folks split off from Chola's and the saag paneer is great at both. Chola's fried bread dessert is sinfully good, and I enjoy their goat curry, and masala fish fillets and chili chicken (usually on weekends only).

* # 3 is Sarovar - a tasty but dirtier and more greasy option earns a distant third. You can often smell cigarette smoke in the dining room, pretty off putting.

* The rest that I've tried but bore (spare me the stouffer's meatballs in curry please) are Clay Pit, Taj Palace, Royal Indian (simply awful), Star of India, Bombay Bistro (though their menu items can be fantastic), Bombay Grill, the now defunked Maharaja cafe, Taj Majal, etc. I'm sure I'm appropriately forgetting others.

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  1. How much is Daawat's lunch buffet, slowcooked?

    1 Reply
    1. re: rudeboy

      I think its 11.70-ish after a two dollar tip.

    2. Sold. Gonna try it this Wednesday.

      1. Chola is great but damn that spice mixture may not be a good idea for the last half of a work day. Just saying..

        1. Asiana's Goat biryani is one of my favorite foods in town. As for Royal Indian, I went once for lunch buffet and didn't find it to be terrible. But I've never been back because why would I when there's Asiana?

          1. aahhh..One more Gulti Restaurant in town ?!!

            South Indians can't think beyond their Idli, dosa, sambar and pulusu...and thats the fact. I mean just look at the menu..what difference do you see in this restaurant compared to any other South Indian restaurant in Austin ? Absolutely Nothing !!

            Now coming to Biryani, ...point to be noted -> It's Not South Indian..period. But all you get in these places is the *Gulti version of Biryani* that you get in their Andu Pradesh (India). And even this Gulti Biriyani originally belongs to the Muslims of Andu Pradesh and not the native Gultis.

            What do Americans know about Indian food ?
            In US, all they sell in the name of Indian food is actually the *Gulti Food*.

            What do Americans think about Indians in US ?
            They think Indian means Gulti (or, Tel-Gu people from Andu Pradesh, India) because all they see here in the US are Gultis (Tel-Gu).

            1 Reply
            1. Since this got bumped up today already, I'll revise. Now, my go to is Biryani Pot for a non buffet, and Dawaat is a nudge above Asiana for our top buffet spots, followed by a somewhat distant Sarovar (dirty, cigarette-y smelling, more oily than the others, but can be tasty).

              Chola has consistently sucked now for months by many of us that used to love it. apparently changed owners and tanked. cold ass, awful crap these days on the line.

              8 Replies
              1. re: slowcoooked

                Mine is Taj Palace for consistent buffet. When Bombay is great, it's really great. When it's not, it can be quite disappointing.

                Biryani Pot for non-buffet (but might as well be for all the variety on the lunch special). I just haven't tried a biryani that's been crave-worthy for me. I'm not much of a rice eater.

                1. re: slowcoooked

                  I've been to biryani pot for lunch a 2x in the last few weeks. I'm not an Indian food pro but I love this place. The Chicken 65 is huge and spice and the lunch combo deal can't be beat. $9 for a huge plate of food and they seem to change up the curries often. The bowl of biryani isn't spectacular but hey, it's rice and serves as a base for the rest of the food they give you...and it is a welcomed break from the spicy chicken 65.

                  Also, there are usually some nice stewed, bone-in pieces of chicken tucked into the bowl that are really tasty.

                  It is way too much food for one person to eat if you get the lunch special and another dish to share, but it is so cheap I don't feel that bad about it.

                  1. re: ieathereforeiam

                    +1 on biryani pot. I've been four times for lunch (remember closed Mondays) and loved every dish. The most disappointing has been the lunch special and that is still good.

                    Favorites have been the fish curry, gongura chicken, and bagara baingan (eggplant dish). And yes the chicken 65 is addictive.

                    Probably my favorite restaurant discovery on chowhound since sambamaster was hyping Asia Cafe in 2006. Note that Biryani Pot seems to have a buffet assembly on the wall though it has never been in action on weekday lunches. They also do a brisk takeout business.

                    1. re: Carter B.

                      ok, i definitely need to get off my butt and go.
                      much of indian food is gluten free (except naan, etc.) so it's always exciting when there's a new place to try that will have a lot of options for me.

                      1. re: dinaofdoom

                        And when you do, see if you notice anything out of the ordinary with regard to the speed with which they actually set food on your table, or anything for that matter. Small things amuse me, apparently.

                  2. re: slowcoooked

                    chola was so awful when i went, and my dining companion was bummed because he'd been going for years (but won't any more).

                    interesting in trying biryani pot, although i'm not really a biryani fan. so do they not have lunch buffet there? or is it more like a thali/combo? i thought i read in the dedicated thread that they did, but perhaps i misunderstood.

                    1. re: dinaofdoom

                      yeah, no buffet, and the lunch deal (multi item combo) is a steal. I agree with Amysuehere and Ieat, the biryani is good just not great. I like Daawat's and Asiana's goat biryani much better mainly because they're less bland. But the curries and Chicken 65 and that awesome house special chicken soup are really great.

                      I've praised Chola in years past, now it's revolting!

                      1. re: slowcoooked

                        mmmm goat.

                        yeah. chola is sad now. wonder how long 'til they go out of business?