$20 Fancy Indian Buffet Food, For Under $10 at Utsav

In Midtown there is no shortage of fancy Indian all you can eat Buffets.  I’d love to try them, but I can’t justify shelling out $13, $15 or $18 for all you can eat Indian food when there’s Sukhadia for $10.95 and my new favorite Spice Fusion for $9.95 available.  Sure, the quality of the food at some of these super expensive *may* be better (that is not totally confirmed), but it’s just not worth the extra money.

Utsav, a fancy Indian buffet on 47th btw. 6+7th, solves that problem with a little take out section in the bar area of their $17.95 all you can eat buffet.  For $7.95 or $9.95 you get a lunch size sampling of what the fat cats upstairs are shelling out $18 for- and it’s pretty damn good.

What you get, and a +/- after the jump…

Utsav is actually one of those restaurants that resides “underneath” a Midtown building, accessible through an outdoor tunnel that runs through the ground floor.  The Utsav tunnel is accessible from 47th or 46th St. and you’ll see signs on both sides pointing you in towards the restaurant.  The buffet is on the second floor, but the “take out” area is actually just to the left of the bar when you first walk in.

They only have two vegetable items and two meat items on the steam table each day, and there are only two combo choices.  Two vegetables with rice, lentils, salad and naan for $7.95, or One Vegetable & One Meat with rice, lentils, salad and naan for $9.95.  $10 is alot for Indian lunch, especially with the $9.95 Spice Fusion Buffet two avenues away, and Minareven closer- but after the trying the food I was surprised not only by the quality, but how much food you get for your money… and if you work nearby maybe you don’t want to walk all the way to the buffet, or deal with the pandemonium of Minar.

I went with the one meat, one vegetable lunch deal- and chose the lamb, and the saag (spinach).  Both were incredibly flavorful, and a much higher quality then you find at many cheaper Indian places in Midtown.  We were lucky enough to be the only people at the steam table when we walked in, but with only one guy spooning out the food, and taking the money, a line quickly grew while he served us.  I can definitely see this becoming a problem, depending on what time you show up.

The naan was also delicious, with a beautiful oily sheen (you might say the secret ingredient is fat).  When they first spooned the food into the tray, I was thinking “this really isn’t a lot of food for $10″, but 2/3 of the way through eating the meal I realized my eyes were way bigger than my stomach.  They really fit a lot of lamb into that little square of the tray, and after the thick, and creamy saag and the whole piece of naan, I was stuffed.  I had a small bit of the lentils, but it was just all too much.  Embarrassingly, I gave up, even leaving two piece of lamb behind (the big money item!!!).   It shames me to do it, but in the interest of full disclosure, here’s what was left over from my meal…

Utsav is a good choice if you’re looking for “quality” Indian food to-go, in a less hectic environment than Minar (which is total pandemonium).  I’m not sure who gives you more food (Minar obviously has more choice), but I was more than satisfied with my lunch.  At $9.95, it seems more expensive- but Minar forces you to choose between rice and bread, so if you want both, you end up paying almost $10 anyway.  For variety, value, and a place to sit, nothing really beats Minar- but for quality, it’s nice every once in awhile to get to eat some food from a place where the fancy pants people eat.

THE +

  • Take out Indian, for under $10, from an expensive Indian Restaurant
  • The food is very high quality
  • You get naan and bread (plus a little couple of lentils)
  • It doesn’t look like it (to a fat guy like me), but it’s a lot of food

THE -

  • Spice Fusion is $9.95, all you can eat, and only a few avenues away
  • Minar is a Midtown Lunch standard, and only half a block away
  • There’s not alot of variety.  Only two vegetable choices, and two meat choices each day.
  • They don’t give you raita (yogurt sauce)
  • You are not allowed to sit in their bar area (even though there are empty seats).  It’s take out only
  • There’s only one guy working the steam table, and taking money- so if a line forms, it may take awhile (maybe he calls for reinforcements???)

Utsav, 1185 Ave. of the Americas (btw. 6+7th Ave., btw. 46+47th St., 212-575-2525

23 Comments

  • I’ve shelled out the big money for the full upstairs buffet a few times and loved the food. Ingredients were fresh and everything was flavorful. Thanks for the buffet tip!

  • Zach – can’t tell from the picture if it was just saag, or if it was saag paneer. The fate of my lunch destination depends on your answer to this question.

  • Utsav is a really good place to eat for a regular old dinner as well. The tandoori murgh roll is a must try- chicken stuffed with spinach in a really rich curry sauce.

  • All saag, no paneer (cheese). If I’m not mistaken, it actually had chunks of yellow squash in it…

  • NOOOOOO

  • DDR: The buffet varies somewhat from day to day. They usually have Saag something — sometimes it’s paneer, sometimes it’s not. If it’s nearby, you could always just check.

  • I’m ashamed of you Zack. You could have forced down that last tender lamb.

  • On another note my favorite (but I can’t seem to find) is Lamb Saag Paneer. The best of both worlds.

  • -spoken in lamb voice-

    but whyyyyyy did iiiiiiiii have to dieeeeeeee and you didnt even fiiiiiiinish me

  • But are the lambs still screaming, Zach?

    And there’s Lamb Saag Paneer? Really? The only time I’ve encountered that is when I mix three separate dishes on my plate!

  • @ Inane “Liiiiissaaaa! I thought you were my frieeeeeennnnd!”

  • These are really baaaaad jokes…

  • A lot of Indian restos these days are putting chick peas in their saag instead of paneer. If they do that, and charge you force, you gotta get yourself outta there.

  • As word gets out on this they are going to have a real problem – that setup isn’t going to be able to handle many people! Can you delete the post now that I know about it?

  • Vishal – How dumb does one have to be to mistake chickpeas for paneer? I mean, wouldn’t that make you feel…sheepish?

  • Got it today. Delicious! Saag paneer today, though it doesn’t have a whole lot of cheese, and also has corn in it. The chicken tikka masala is wonderful, as is the dal.

  • People say Heather Mills/Mcartney is unbalanced.

    Paul says this can easily be resoved by unscrewing her leg a few turns.

    Sorry, had no sheep jokes….well apart from those involving the welsh…. and im in enough bloody trouble.

  • I was wondered what that mini buffet thing on the first floor was. I always eat on the second floor for the real buffet. Also isnt that Peruvian place just two blocks away?

  • “I’m ashamed of you Zack. You could have forced down that last tender lamb.”

    Criminal, ain’t it?

    “A lot of Indian restos these days are putting chick peas in their saag instead of paneer.”

    That’s fine by me. No me gusta el paneer.

  • Thanks for the tip! I thought that the takeout was too much food also! Great nan and saag, and a delicious chicken dish that the takeout guy made me take over my usual lamb. I just started working in Times Square and it was nice to know its not a culinary wasteland. Keep up the great work Zach!

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