Apna Taj Indian Buffet Lowers Prices to Compete With (the Most Excellent) Darbar Grill
When the Indian buffet Apna Taj took over the former East Ocean space back in March (on 55th btw. Lex+3rd) I noted that for just 45 cents less (they charge $10.50) they probably weren’t going to siphon off any business from the popular Indian buffet next door, Darbar Grill (which is $10.95). Clearly they got the message, because they just lowered the price of their all you can buffet to $9.50. As anybody who reads this site regularly knows, I find something very appealing about all you can eat buffets that come in below that $10 threshold (they are dwindling by the day, so to see one drop the price is very exciting.) Now, I will definitely be trying Apna Taj very soon.
Last month I went to 55th st. looking for some Indian buffet action and Darbar Grill was the obvious choice. Always pretty crowded, a ton of options, 3 (!!!) dessert choices, and of course- the infamous make your own dosa station. Photos of that meal, are after the jump…
Darbar Grill is one of those “upscale” Indian buffets that you can find pretty much anywhere in Midtown. The difference is, they only charge $10.95 for their spread (while others in the area, charge $15.95 and more.) The price, combined with a wide array of options, has gained them a pretty substantial following- so you will never find yourself alone at this buffet during lunchtime.
First plate was pretty standard (a little taste of everything), and you can see they have quite a few options- including goat and a fish curry (both of which were really good.) Bone in tandoori chicken is always a nice treat, and their saag was not watery at all (a huge problem at cheaper Indian buffet.) Sadly though, I think it had chickpeas instead of paneer (the Indian cheese that is sought after by many Indian buffet loving Midtown Lunchers.) They also had breaded and fried mushrooms the day I was there. Sure, I would have preferred samosas or pakoras as the fried offering- but it didn’t stop me from enjoying them (or getting more on my second plate, which is reserved for the things I liked best.) And free, all you can eat naan comes out hot from the kitchen.
Of course the biggest draw of the Darbar Grill buffet is the make your own dosa station, which I was pretty excited to try. The mini dosas take a few minutes to make, and are stuffed with an average tasting potato filling- but just having the option is exciting. Not the best dosa I’ve ever had (the shell was totally undercooked) but it was a lot of fun, and totally distinguishes this buffet from the others in Midtown.
Another thing that distinguishes this buffet from the others? Three desserts! Awwww yeah. My tip: when they offer you more than one dessert option, screw those tiny plates they leave on the dessert table. Go back to the main buffet, and snag a regular size plate. It’s the only way to do it. The day we were there, they had kheer- the standard Indian rice pudding dessert you find at most Indian buffets, plus a totally awesome mango pudding, which had the consistency of a thick Chinese pudding thing I’ve had at Dim Sum before. Kind of like a pudding/jello combo. But my favorite was the gajar halva, a carrot pudding that I’ve only seen at Spice Fusion (on 8th Ave. btw. 47+48th.) Awesome.
All in all a great Indian buffet, and well worth the $11. The dosa station is not good enough to get me to completely swear off trying Apna Taj (or keep me from going back to Bombay Bistro on 52nd btw. 3rd+Lex), but everything else is top notch, and I will be back.
Darbar Grill, 157 E 55th St (btw. 3rd+Lex), 212-751-4600
(Not to be confused with Darbar on 46th Street)