Touch of India May be the Last Under $10 Indian Buffet in Midtown
It’s been a while since I buffeted it up at lunchtime in Midtown. When I first started this blog, there were quite a few buffets that fell under the Midtown Lunch price range. There was Rangole on 46th btw. 5+6th (now closed), Al Baraka Turkish Buffet on 55th btw. Lex+3rd (now called Kannaat), Arang in Koreatown (they stopped doing buffet), Chinese Midtown Buffet on 7th btw. 39+40th, International Food House latin buffet on 35th btw. 7+8th) and Curry Dream on 39th btw. 5+6th. I made an exception for the $10.99 vegetarian Indian buffet Sukhadia on 45th btw. 5+6th, and Spice Fusion became my favorite buffet in Midtown when they opened last year on 8th Ave. btw. 47+48th. Since that time, almost every one of these buffets have either closed or raised their prices, leaving West Tandoori Club on 37th btw. 7+8th, the last remaining under $10 Indian buffet in Midtown.
Last month, when the W.T.C. closed for “renovations,” I figured that was it. Even if they re-opened as a buffet, it’s not going to remain under $10. So imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago, West Tandoori Club re-opened as “Touch of India” with an $8.95 lunch buffet. Last friday, I headed over to check it out…
From a decor standpoint, Touch of India is a huge improvement over West Tandoori Club. They’ve made everything nicer and it seems more like a mid range Indian restaurant, than a cheap, steam table joint. And, in much the same way Rangole touted the fact that their chef used to cook for Indian royalty, this place boasts a former chef from “Air India.” (Is that an airline? Is that a good thing?)
Touch of India serves up what I’d call a “small scale” buffet, consisting of under 15 items that range from basic (chicken tikka masala) to the not so standard (egg curry.) As outlined in my Guide to Beating A Buffet, I started with a plate that had little tastes of everything.
Buffets are already magical places. They combine quantity and variety in a way that is unmatched in any other dining setting. The trick to finding the perfect buffet is balancing that quantity and variety with quality- a difficult thing to pull off. Try getting it for under $10, and it becomes virtually impossible. That’s what made Spice Fusion so much better than Rangole and Curry Dream. Under $10, but the quality was there.
Touch of India is more what you’d expect at a $9 Indian buffet. Every single one of the dishes was completely watery, rendering my plate a complete mess. The chicken tikka masala, a pretty standard buffet dish, was made with bone in chunks of chicken- a preperation that no doubt helps the flavor, but alot of diners may find unappealing (I actually don’t mind it.) A better choice was the Kadai chicken, a dish with an interesting sauce made from onions, tomatoes, ginger and chili. On the second trip up to the buffet, I tried my best to pick the meat out out of the trays while draining as much of the sauce off the spoon as possible, before putting it onto my plate- something you would never dream of doing at a place that didn’t serve their curries watered down.
Two chicken dishes was the extent of the meat, a disappointment considering you’ll often find lamb at good Indian buffets. For $9 it’s not entirely surprising. They had goat one of the other times I dropped in, so you may get lucky on the day you visit. The egg curry was pretty interesting, and will probably be a big hit with those who like hard boiled eggs. The rest of the vegetable dishes had were too watery for my taste- despite having a decent flavor.
The one thing I didn’t expect was the spiciness. A lot of the dishes had some pretty nice heat to them. The naan was pretty good, and they seemed to replace it on the buffet pretty often, so no complaints there. Nothing was good enough to really load up on for my second plate, and after a few balls of gulab jamun (which were fair), I was done. A pretty lackluster effort, and I wasn’t feeling so hot the rest of the day.
All in all, I would only recommend this buffet to hard core enthusiasts who can truly destroy a buffet, regardless of the quality.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- It’s an all you can buffet
- It’s only $8.95
- The naan came out fresh, and fairly often
- Some of the dishes were pretty spicy
- Did I mention you can eat all you want for $9?
- The flavors were not that bad and they had a few interesting dishes, like egg curry
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- The chicken tikka masala has bones in it
- All the dishes were totally watered down
Touch of India, 232 W. 37th St. (btw. 7+8th), 212-560-9414