Spice Fusion Perfects the Under $10 Indian All You Can Eat Buffet
One thing I’ve discovered since starting Midtown Lunch is that most of the time you get what you pay for. Go to an Indian buffet that’s $9.95 and the quality of the food is not going to be as good as the $14.95 buffet. Rangole (on 46th btw. 5+6th) was the best deal ever at $8.95, but the quality was a little lacking, and the atmosphere left a little to be desired. And yet, I love the all you can eat buffets, so I was happy the place was there when I needed my fix.
When Rangole closed, I was forced to look south to Curry Dream on 38th btw. 5+6th. $1 more than Rangole, it still suffers from many of the same problems. Good, but not great, clean, but not really… and still, I am just happy it’s there. (Fat man likey buffet.) I could pay $10.95 for Sukhadia or even more for one of the expensive Indian Buffets in Midtown (there are plenty, like Utsav), but it is against the under $10 Midtown Lunch rule (read: I’m a cheap bastard, and will sacrifice quality for price).
With the opening of Spice Fusion on 8th Ave. btw. 47+48th, all of my Indian food prayers have been answered. Not only is the buffet only $9.95, they have take out boxes for $6.95 and the food is not only good, it is borderline great!
What they have, and a +/- after the jump…
Spice Fusion is what I would consider to be a small scale buffet. There are usually 3 meat dishes, 3 vegetarian dishes, one rice, one dessert, two salads and and array of sauces and chutneys. You can actually apply most of my Chinese food buffet rules to Indian buffets, with the exception of “don’t eat the bread“, which clearly needs to be ignored when dealing with Indian food, where the naan is going to be one of the best parts of the meal.
My first plate, as always, was a starter plate, as I used it to sample all the meat dishes and the saagwala (spinach), which is my favorite:
Every dish had a very distinct flavor, and none of the sauces were watery- a problem you find at a lot of cheap Indian buffets. Standard chicken tikka masala was very good, and the rarely seen straight up chicken masala was spicy and delicious. The lamb rogan josh was also good, and is something they told me is on the buffet every day.
My string of bad saags at cheap indian buffets came to an end, with their version being particularly good, my only complaint being that it came with “aloo” or potato rather than the standard paneer (Indian cheese). I would say this was a cheap move to save money, but they quickly disproved that theory by offering a paneer and peas dish right next to the saag.
Bread is one of my favorite parts of an Indian buffet, and Spice Fusion brings their naan fresh, hot and glistening right from the oven to your table. In fact, they actually seemed very concerned with making sure all the food they put out was fresh. When I asked if they ever had Tandoori chicken on the buffet, they replied that you could only get tandoori off the menu or as a take out box, because it dries up and doesn’t taste good when you put that kind of food on a buffet.
For my second plate, I sampled the remaining two vegetarian dishes, got seconds of the lamb and chicken masala, and tried their extensive selection of sauces and chutneys. I’m not a vegetarian, but if I was I would be pretty excited about this place. There are only 3 vegetarian choices, but they were all top notch. The yellow dal was exceptionally tasty, with this amazing mustardy flavor, and the paneer with pees was also delicious. A lot of times at cheap Indian buffets, everything ends up tasting practically the same- but here I was really impressed with how strong and individual the flavor of each dish was.
For dessert, I was disappointed to see the standard Indian rice pudding dish (which they have on some days) replaced with some sort of orange dessert thing called Gajar ka Halwa. Made entirely from carrots, it more than exceeded my low expectations. Sweet and delicious, seeing it on my next visit will result in a very happy boy.
All in all, I couldn’t believe how good this buffet was for only $9.95. And unlike most cheap buffets the atmosphere was warm, inviting and super clean (probably due to the fact that the place is brand new). And, while normally I would be critical of a buffet that doesn’t offer tandoori chicken, or some of sort of fried something something (can a brother get a samosa or pakora up in this joint???), it was overshadowed by the effort they put into making each of the dishes superb. My only fear is that when word gets out, it will be so crowded they won’t be able to maintain the quality.
On second thought, this place is terrible. Nobody should go.
- All the dishes are far better than you would expect from a $9.95 Indian buffet.
- Nothing was watery
- The naan comes out fresh from the kitchen
- If you aren’t in the mood for buffet, they have take out or delivery boxes for $6.95
- The Vegetarian options are delicious
- It’s a buffet… and all buffets are good
- A really large selection of delcious sauces and chutneys
- It’s a small scale buffet, and a decent size restaurant. If it is full, I could see there being a problem with lines and keeping the food stocked
- There is no tandoori chicken, so your office mate who only eats the “red chicken with no sauce” may have to eat some real Indian food!
- There are no pakoras or samosas! (I’d rather have dried out fried stuff than no fried stuff at all!)
- They seem to put a lot of care into all their dishes (and not serving popular items that don’t fare well in a buffet setting). I’m afraid that once they become popular, they won’t put as much care into the food!
- With tax and tip, the meal comes out to around $13 (which is technically more than the $10 Midtown Lunch “rule”)
Spice Fusion, 777 8th Ave. (btw. 47+48th), 212-757-8100