Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Narayanni's Indian Buffet


Narayanni's, an Indian buffet restaurant that has been serving dinner for 9 years, recently started serving a $12 lunch buffet as well, and they have kindly invited me to give it a try. The restaurant is located on 81 Ave and 102 St with plenty of parking out front.

Lunch Buffet Hours: Tue-Fri (11:30 am - 1:30 pm)
Dinner Buffet Hours: Tue-Sat (5:30 pm - 9 pm)
Closed Sunday and Monday

The exterior of the restaurant did not seem very impressive, so I was surprised to find that the decor inside was quite fancy and elegant. One thing that struck me in particular was how clean and neat everything was. The floor was spotless (not a crumb in sight), and all of the tables were squeaky clean. This is probably one of the cleanest restaurants I have ever been to.


The seating area is comfortable and spacious, with booth and table seating on both sides of the central buffet table. The restaurant is actually quite big and can accommodate large groups.


While the food was delicious, the selection was limited and most of the dishes were vegetarian. Meat lovers who like to pile butter chicken and lamb curry onto their plate at Indian buffets would not appreciate this place, but Narayanni's is perfect for vegetarians, vegans, and people who prefer a lighter meal. For starters, the lunch buffet serves up a soup and salad that change daily. The soup and salad of the day for me were vegetable curry soup and traditional wedding salad. I could tell the veggies in the salad were very fresh and crunchy. The soup was very flavourful and thick, but it was a bit too heavy for me. Great flavour, but I almost felt like I was drinking a sauce.


The lunch buffet consists of 4 main dishes: chicken curry and 3 vegan dishes that rotate daily. The chicken is locally sourced, free-range, and hormone/antibiotic-free. On the day I visited, the vegan dishes were dhal with eggplant, mushrooms and chana masala, and butternut squash. I really enjoyed the spicy eggplants and sweet butternut squash. There was also a dessert of cinnamon infused rice pudding to wash it all down and help alleviate the spiciness. I was impressed to find that all of the food is free from MSG, preservatives, artificial flavours and colours, and the sauces do not contain cream.


Unlike most other Indian buffet restaurants, Narayanni's does not serve naan bread. They serve something different and much better in my opinion — a flaky and buttery pancake known as the roti. It is pretty much the same as the roti canai found in Malaysian restaurants, but I found it just a bit crispier and firmer in texture. The roti is not part of the buffet, and would have to be ordered on the side.


Drinks are also not included in the buffet, but this traditional chai tea is worth a try. It is prepared with a secret blend of hand-ground spices and is especially comforting on a cold day. On the first sip, the creaminess reminded me of a warm cup of cocoa. Then the chai flavour kicks in, but the spice is gentle and not overpowering. It's actually not a very strong tea; it's more soothing and comforting.


Narayanni's prides itself in using top quality ingredients (locally sourced whenever possible), and that is apparent in the food they serve. They show their commitment to healthy eating by hosting a vegan dinner buffet every Tuesday for only $15/person! I would love to give this a try even though I'm not vegan. I'm looking forward to my next visit, and when I come back, I will definitely order a cup of hot chai and a roti to go with it.

Narayanni's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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