Flatiron Lunch: DhaBa Supplements Their Buffet With Passed Awesomeness

Every Friday our man UltraClay goes south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.

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Last week, I got an email from Chris H asking if I’d ever been to Dhaba in Curry Hill. He suggested it as a Flatiron Lunch saying that they have the best Indian he’s had in the area.  Now, I’m no expert in Indian food, but that seemed like a bold statement worth investigating. It didn’t hurt that they’ve got a $9.95 lunch buffet, ($9 for takeout) too!

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Walking into Dhaba, i was surprised at how packed it was. When lunching at other places in the area, like the neighboring Cinnamon, the crowd has been somewhat sparse. I guess everyone’s been coming here.

Crowd are usually a good sign, especially at a buffet where turnover is the key to fresh food.  But in this case the crowd turned out to be sort of a pain the ass. The space is clearly not meant for a bunch of standing traffic and the line to the buffet left me squeezed between seated lunchers while I waited. Worse, when I got to the buffet, the chicken biryani was decimated, with only a piece or two of chicken left.


The buffet is made up of about a dozen of these serving trays. They weren’t all wiped out, but a couple more needed a refresh and given the space concerns, there wasn’t really any room to wait around for it.

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When I got back to my table, I’d filled my plate but was a little disappointed with my haul and not so into the idea of making my way back to get some more.

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Then lamb khorma was tender and slightly sweet, the chicken biryani pieces were a little dry, but still tasty, there was a saag and roasted cauliflower dish that was pretty yummy too.

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Among the condiments and sauces I picked up was this yellow pile of veggies and herbs that turned out to be the most sour thing I’ve ever had. I’m sure it’s an acquired taste, but it wasn’t quite for me.

All in all it was pretty good, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready to declare it ‘the best’.  Then something magical happened…


A server came by with a plate full of chicken tikka drumsticks! I got two. They were smokey and moist and had a creeping spice to them.


Shortly after, another person came by with a bowl of naan. And another server came by with a plate full of fried, breaded pockets filled with what was likely potatoes. On the side, there were two sauces, a green, cilantro-based one and a dark, reddish one that tasted like a sweet, gingery jam.

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These really made the meal for me. And just when I thought I couldn’t eat another bite, another server came by to finish me off with a final drumstick. The underlying spice had grown enough by that point to light me.  It was a grand finish.

Now, I’ll have to do a good deal of research before I can dub DhaBa ‘the best’ with any sort of authority, but I will say that I don’t think I’ve ever had better. So, thanks to Chris for the heads up- because without him, I know I’d never have guessed how great DaBa is. Now that I know, I’ll certainly be back.

The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • All you can eat Indian buffet is my favorite!
  • It’s pretty awesome how they walk around with fresh chicken, fried stuff, and naan
  • They don’t hold back on the spice… by the end of the meal my mouth had a pleasant burn going

The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • The place is pretty small and non set up for optimal buffeting (aka it’s a bit of a shitshow)

DhaBa, 108 Lexington Avenue (btw 27+28th), 212-679-1284


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    Those are awesome pictures. Sometimes there’s a real lack of pics in some of these posts which makes me sad. That one with the chicken is excellent.

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    I live in the area and agree that dhaba is probably the best non-vegetarian indian in curry hill. They also deliver a great lunch special; I particularly like their lentils.

    The best vegetarian indian is Saravanas, if you feel like branching out. Very different type of food.

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    I can’t say for sure if Dhaba is “the best” Indian buffet in Curry Hill, but it’s good enough that I have little interest in searching out a better one. (Side note: As good as Dhaba is, its more expensive sister restaurant Chola is way better, as it should be.)

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      You know I just went to Chola last week for the first time, up in midtown, and you’re right. Chola is EXCELLENT.

      I haven’t tried the buffets at either spot, just delivery from Dhaba and sit-down at Chola.

  • I like Dhaba. I didn’t get to enjoy the buffet, service was meh, but their chaats are very good!! I wanetd to go for dinner before but placed was packed.
    I guess I need to check out their lunch buffet sometime. It is tight quarters. BOO!

    If you like veg Indian, Tiffan Wallah is worth checking out.

  • I’ve never had a lot of interest in Vegetarian places, but I’ve heard good things about both Saravanaa and Tiffin Wallah. One of these days I’ll give them a look

    • both Tiffin Wallah and Saravanas are both really good. It’s amazing how Indian cooking can make veggies exciting… certainly beats tofurkey and textured vegetable proteins.

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        Last time I walked by Tiffin Wallah they had a C from the DoH, so… not so much. That might explain my serious intestinal disorder every time I eat from there. Lets just say there was blowback.

        No such problem from Saravanas.

    • bhojan is part of the same dhaba/chola empire (which extends weirdly to little thai kitchen as well) and is also pretty good for veg. i’ve enjoyed their $8 thalis very much.

  • I went there once for dinner and had a great meal. Might have to try their lunch beffet now after seeing these pics!

  • Having eaten from both the buffet and menu at this place I wouldn’t judge Dhaba by its buffet. They have a really expansive menu with some really interesting options (goat trotter soup?). If you order well I think it’s easily one of the best non-veg Indian places in Manhattan. Also, I appreciate a place like this that doesn’t hold back on the spice.

    • I agree – I’m not expert in Indian food, but I do appreciate how ‘fresh’ Dhaba’s food seems to be. Plus they pick up on the really small stuff – fresh and hot papadum, a menu that clearly delineates the straight forward fare from the British curries (which are great in their own right), and a bold level of spice across the board.

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