Indian AYCE Buffet Battle: New Delhi v. Tandoor India

Luncher Aubre is on a serious mission to find the best Indian Buffet in University City. Recently she reported back on the Tandoor India Buffet, and today we’ll see how it compares to New Delhi.

Two weeks ago, when a thwarted trip to the New Delhi buffet landed me at Tandoor India, I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of my lunch. One of my lunch partners suggested that we return to New Delhi, not on a Monday, and do a comparison to decide the better of the Indian lunch buffets. For exactly the same price($8.95), someone needed to come out on top. The gauntlet was thrown down.

On Wednesday we walked to 40th and Chestnut and, for some reason– perhaps the fancier  dining space and buffet set-up– expected New Delhi to surpass Tandoor India. At New Delhi the main buffet station sits in the middle of the dining room, while another, smaller station for salads and sauces sits against the wall. Visually, New Delhi is more enjoyable. The dining area has been recently redone to a much more modern look than Tandoor India and the buffet stations look newer and better maintained– making New Delhi feel like an upscale cafeteria at lunch time. Unfortunately, the food at New Delhi is also reminiscent of a cafeteria at lunchtime. The main offerings, although beautiful and of seemingly more variety than Tandoor’s, lacked the unique, bold flavors that I was really looking for.

Despite not being a practicing vegetarian, I tend to gravitate towards vegetarian dishes in Indian cuisine. New Delhi had my beloved fried vegetable fritters, which are called bhojia, so I loaded my plate with a bunch of those, some naan, chicken tikka masala, vegetables malai kofta, channa masala and some lamb in a dish I can’t quite place. And finally I poured myself a small bowl of raita so that I could dip everything in it. I was a bit disappointed in the vegetarian selection finding no spinach or eggplant, which are two of my favorites. The bhojia were tasty enough and a few of the pieces of lamb were deliciously tender, but overall the flavors were a bit too comingled for my taste. Granted, I had a plate filled with a variety of options and resembling a kind of farm slop—but I wanted to be able to distinguish between their distinct flavors and wasn’t truly able to. The flavors blended together and there was no real distinction between the sauce of the malai kofta and the tikka masala. At Tandoor India, my plate was a similar mash-up of all sorts of options, yet the flavors were robust enough to differentiate the many offerings from one another.

While New Delhi’s interior is much nicer and more enjoyable to dine in, their buffet options simply did not live up to Tandoor India’s. I’m not an expert, but I have to say that Tandoor India felt like a more authentically Indian lunch option than New Delhi. Each dish there had individually delicious flavors that set them apart from the offerings at New Delhi. Don’t get me wrong, New Delhi isn’t bad, by any means. But it certainly isn’t the victor. Brave the seedy exterior (and interior) of Tandoor India for the better of the buffets. Next stop Sitar?

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

  • Lamb in the buffet. Thumbs up.
  • Upscale interior—great for a business lunch that is deceivingly inexpensive
  • Booze!

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

  • Where’s the eggplant and the spinach?
  • Everything sort of tastes the same.

New Delhi Restaurant, 4004 Chestnut Street (@40th) 215 386-1941



  • Interesting, I tended to enjoy New Delhi more than Tandoor. But I’m pretty sure Sitar was my favorite among the 3.

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    How has no one else commented on this!? This is riveting stuff!

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    Yes, definitely review Sitar! I’ve tried New Delhi a few times over the years but I found nearly the same selections each time I went there. Sitar has a much more varied menu and I would be interested in seeing what others think of the flavors etc.

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