I have been wanting to go to an Indian buffet, and there are many restaurant that offers just that, but I wanted to find a one with high review. During my research, I came across this restaurant Chola, which seem to have a pretty good rating. The exterior is surprisingly modern, and it looked kind of small.
The inside was much bigger than it looked from the outside, but it was rather dark… They only have windows on the front wall against the street, and with dimmed lights, it felt like it was a late evening/night time even though it was a lunch time. I lightened up the interior photos by a lot here so that you can see what the inside looks like.
One really fun thing about their interior is their wall papers. On the walls in main dining area, they had white brick wall designed wall paper, creating that modern, industrial feel to it. On the walls in the back dining area, they covered them with bookshelves design wall papers, making it feel more cozy or home-y in my opinion.
Now, let’s talk about the food! They had the all-you-can-eat Lunch Buffet ($14.95/person during weekdays) table set up near the entrance, and it looked like a good amount of food and varieties of it. I saw that once something was about to be finished, the staff got the fresh batch out from the kitchen very quickly. They were pretty efficient there.
They had all the “basic” Indian dishes and some dishes that I was not familiar with. Regardless, they all looked pretty good. Two of the items I really enjoyed were Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Birayan (I will be going by the way the restaurant spell their dishes). The Masala was more on a sweet side though. I especially liked the Birayan, a mixed rice dish kind of like Indian version of pilaf, but with lots of spice. It certainly had nice kick to it, it was more spicy than I expected. The Lamb Rogan Gosh was another yummy curry dish they had.
The least favorite one was the Goa Fish Curry. It was sweet and did not have a good flavor to me. One bite and I was done. Important thing to remember at all-you-can-eat buffet is to take a VERY small portion of each item when you are first trying them out, since you never know which one you like or dislike, until you taste them. Some restaurant will charge you for whatever is left on your plate at the end. This place does NOT do that, but still, I don’t like to waste food.
While we were trying out some dishes, the staffs brought some fresh hot naan, which was crispy and fluffy. And then, they kept bring some more complimentary side dishes. You can accept them or decline them. I accepted them all as I wanted to try them all.
They also brought papadum (sorry, I forgot to take a photo) and mini dosa. The papadum is a thin, crisp, disc-shaped cracker-like food, and it came with few dipping sauces. It was nice and crunchy, but didn’t have much distinctive flavor without the sauces. Mini dosa, on the other hand, was pretty good. The filling tasted like potato and sautéed onion, and it was really good!
Throughout the lunch, they brought more side dishes, which was fun. They gave us potato pakoras which is a potato fritters. They were thinly sliced and fried, with good spices. It was flavorful and was a perfect snack! But, the winner of all the side dishes have to be the tandoori chicken! It was really good, packed with flavor, juicy, and delicious!
Back to the buffet table. Some of the vegetarian dishes they had were Aloo Gobi Kadai (dry vegetarian curry with vegetable dish with potatoes cauliflower), Saag Paneer (spinach with paneer cheese). The Aloo Gobi was spicy and flavorful, the Saag Paneer was like a concentration of spinach, and the spiciness comes afterwards with a big punch. Make sure to have a water nearby.
Zucchini Subji is basically a zucchini curry, and was very spicy! It was more watery than creamy. Medhu Vada was ok. It is made with lentil batter mixed with ginger, cumin seeds, curry leaves, crushed pepper and few other spices. But yet, I didn’t really get much flavor. Maybe because all the other dishes were very strong with spices?
They had few more dishes, like Uttapam (rice and lentil pancake with onion and bell pepper), Idly (steamed rice and lentil patties), among others.
And yes, they had desserts. Lots and lots of Gulab Jamun to be exact. Since my visit to Aangan (you can read about it here: http://www.foodlovergirl.com/aangan/), I learned what Gulab Jamun is all about. Here, they make the balls with milk and flour, fry them, and then soak them in cardamom flavored syrup. If you need something super sweet after spicy dishes, this is it,
The service was good, they had several staffs constantly walking around the floor, pouring water, picking up empty/finished plates, bringing complimentary side dishes… We never had to ask for anything. The amount of food we had was great, and I thought the price was reasonable. On the weekend, the price goes up by $3 per person, so it is best to go there during weekday. It seems like most people who work nearby knew of the value, it got pretty packed while we were there, with mainly people taking lunch break from work. If you are in the area during the weekday around lunch time, you might want to give them a try!
Chola – 232 E 58th St, New York, NY 10022