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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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