Flatiron Lunch: He-Man & Haandi Buffet Make For a Perfect All You Can Eat Lunch
Now that Downtown has its very own section of the site, what are we going to post on Fridays at 10am? Answer… how about a new column devoted to those lunches just south of the ML boundaries. Please give a warm welcome to Jason Lam from the blog Me So Hungry. Every Friday at 10am he’ll post about lunches in Murray Hill south, Grammercy, Flatiron, and everything in between… or as we’ll call it from now on: Flatiron Lunch.
In a time when trendy Curry Hill restaurants are popping up with their $9.99 lunch buffets, Haandi is still kickin it as the cabbie’s choice. I’ve been to this place for dinner a while back and it was packed with cab drivers scarfing down their curries and kababs. I had the two meats and veggie over rice platter ($7.99). I came out stuffed and had my first sighting of the legendary Madison Square Park He-Man around the block. It looked like he was making out with an old handicapped lady in a wheelchair, but maybe it was a hallucination caused by the spicy curry. Anyway, two items to taste isn’t enough for me. I like to taste it all. So onto their $9.99 All-You-Can-Eat lunch buffet.
The restaurant is two-tiered. The upstairs is à la carte, from steam trays. The downstairs level is an extra dining room where they serve the lunch time buffet. Like many true Desi/cabbie hole-in-the-walls there is a flat screen TV playing Indian soap operas and Bollywood music videos.
I met up with my lunch buddy, Matt, around 12:30 prime lunch time. There was a decent crowd, but we found it easy to grab a table. So much variety in the buffet. Plenty of meat and some vegetarian dishes, including a small salad bar. The food seems to look a lot better (fresher, bolder) here than upstairs. Could have been the lighting.
Tasty chicken dishes –Makhani, Tikka and Karahi (my favorite). However the Beef Masala was tough and inedible for me. The Kakori Kebab tasted a bit like hot dog. Vegetables were spiced. Saag is always near and dear to my heart. It’s decent here at Haandi, although the flavor is a bit off or “different” than what I’m used to.
They also had Chicken Biryani in the buffet! I’m ashamed that this is the first time I’ve tried biryani. I’ve always assumed it was like fried rice- but now I see it’s more of a seasoned, spicy basmati rice. It was nice. The chicken in the Biryani is chopped with the bone… some that takes a little work to eat. I imagine some folks won’t like that. Most of the chicken curry dishes also had bones. I even got some liver off one of the pieces. Yummy.
They continually brought out new trays of food while we were eating –new dishes, fresh refills, hot naan. I felt at ease that the food hadn’t been sitting out too long. I’ve been to good and bad Indian buffets in New York. Haandi is definitely on the better side.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place will say)
- I love flavorful and spicy food (not overly spicy though)
- I like to try a little bit of everything, especially the sloppy
- I like a fresh buffet
- It’s where cab drivers eat. So it’s gotta be good & authentic, right?
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- I prefer the new cleaner, trendier restaurants in the area
- I don’t like oily food (but I’ve seen a guy carefully remove the oil into a cup when it separates from the sauce. I wonder if that’s good for it)
- I don’t deal with bones
- I’m afraid of the aftermath of having all-you-can-eat curries (Yes, there was damage done)
- He-Man will kick my ass if he reads this
Haandi Restaurant, 113 Lexington Avenue (btwn 27+28th St), 212-685-5200