Indian Buffet Takes Over Old East Ocean Space
The space that used to be occupied by the cheap Chinese food place East Ocean (on 55th btw. Lex+3rd) has finally been filled by Apna Taj, an all-you-can-eat Indian buffet. I’m willing to go up to $11 for an all you can eat buffet, so this one (for $10.50) just makes it under the cap. It’s kind of ballsy to open up another Indian buffet 2 doors down from the upscale Darbar Grill (which is only 45 cents more expensive), and a ML reader has already sent me an email crying out for a head-to-head.
“Both hover just below $11, so they’re within your price-range. The newest buffet, Apna Taj, deserves a look just to see if it merits taking up the space of a Chinese restaurant you reviewed so highly. Their neighbor, Darbar Grill, goes the upscale route with a buffet that [the other day] featured 4 different types of salad, sweet potato croquettes, tandoori chicken, chicken tikka masala, goat curry, Goan fish curry, palak paneer, a yogurty version of baingan bhartha, channa masala, daal, a made-to-order dosa station and 3 different desserts ranging from gulab jamun to crÃ¨me caramel. And surprisingly for Midtown East, I wasn’t the only Desi mixing chutneys over his sweet potatoes to make chaat. It seems like they’ve gotten themselves quite the following. Best regards, Omar”
I peeked into both on Friday, and even without trying them I think it’s kind of hard to not declare Darbar Grill the automatic winner. They have 3 times as many options as the newly opened Apna Taj, and the made to order dosa station kind of seals the deal. Clearly I need to try both, but sometimes looks do tell the story. And from the looks of this, Apna Taj is going to have to charge a lot less than $10.50 to lure people away from Darbar Grill.
Apna Taj, 159 East 55 St (btw. Lex+3rd), 212-223-0010
Darbar Grill, 157 E 55th St (btw. Lex+3rd), 212-751-4600