Indian Buffet it Up For < $10 at Apna Taj
Sometimes, I get the most random craving for Indian food – chicken tikka masala, specifically – so when I passed Apna Taj (on 55th btw. Lex+3rd) and saw they offer a $9.50 lunch buffet, it immediately sparked my hunt for a Midtown Lunch-worthy Indian lunch. Last year, Zach lunched at next door neighbor Darbar Grill to get in on the make-your-own-dosa action, so Apna Taj already had plenty of competition on the “fancy Indian buffet” front. But check out what you can get for under $10 after the jump…
As most Midtown Lunchers know, the beauty of buffets is you can try as much or as little of everything however many times you’d like, so naturally I got a little bit of everything the first time around. Round 2 and 3 is reserved for only the best! I have a pretty hard time finding tikka masala that I like more than the kind I used to have in London, but that makes me sound and feel like a snob so I try and try and try chicken tikka masala as often as I can when I’m at a New York-based Indian restaurant. Apna Taj’s chicken tikka masala wasn’t outstanding and pieces leaned on the small side. Still, it’ll satisfy a craving for that creamy orange sauce.
Kalai lamb was chewy so I took a bite and pushed it aside, but my two favorites were the chicken tandoori and aloo balingan (eggplant with potato). The tandoori chicken isn’t as grilled or smokey as it could be, but the meat was tender and not dry at all, which I find is a problem at other Indian places sometimes. As for the aloo balingan, the thick cut-up pieces of eggplant and potatoes were a nice surprise!
I tried the Bombay egg curry, which was basically a whole egg in curry spice. It had a curry -flavored film on the outside, which is as tasty as it sounds. In other words: skip the boiled egg unless you like boiled eggs with curry-flavored egg skin.
Vegetarians can choose between the tasty aloo balingan, decent Saag tadka (spinach puree), or something called rattan korma, which was a soft cauliflower/mixed veggies in soup. All the veggies were a bit on the soft-as-stew side, but if you’re like me and like your peas mushy, then you won’t be disappointed. The massive vegetable samosa delivered just that – spiced potato and soft peas in a nice crust. It won’t win any awards, but it’s definitely filling!
Fresh naan is delivered to your table, which was a nice touch for a cheap meal.
$9.50 seems like a decent price to pay for a bottomless plate. With eight entrees, one dessert, fresh naan, and basmati rice with green peas, you definitely can’t complain you’re still hungry.
Also, I should note I went back three times for the gulab jamun, which are like donut holes soaked in spiced ginger-flavored honey soup. Yum…warm, spongy cake balls.
Not into the buffet? Or need to get back to work? You can get a take out container, but it’s still the same price! ($9.50) Kind of lame. In other words, Apna Taj is only worth it if you eat in. (As if I needed to tell you that…)
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- If you want some of everything, buffet-style is the only way to go.
- The price is right compared to neighboring Indian buffets, which usually charge more than $10.
- Their chicken tandoori is slightly smokey and tender, which is a nice change to overly baked chicken tandoori offered in other Midtown Indian places.
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Pretty average overall experience, considering only 2 out of 8 entrees stand out.
- The lunch buffet to-go option is the same price of $9.50 – and that’s minus the refills. I’d rather pay more for a make-my-own-dosa experience and three dessert options!
Apna Taj 159 East 55th Street (btw. Lex+3rd), 212-223-0010