Tandoor Cuisine of India - Orange
I wonder how many meals start with the phrase: "I have a coupon that's about to expire."
If I had to guess: Quite a few.
That's exactly what a co-worker proclaimed one lunch hour and on general principle, we could not let it go to waste -- we're in a recession after all.
Never mind that it was just a buck off of Tandoor Cuisine of India's already cheap $8.99 lunch buffet. Never mind that just the week before, I gorged at another Indian buffet.
No, this coupon must serve its intended purpose and it must do so, like, today!
Besides that, I hadn't been to Tandoor, and she had noted that it was the Indian restaurant of choice for all her Indian friends.
You had me at $7.99, I said. That's less than what they charge at the scummiest Vegas buffet or the ickiest Chinese all-you-can-eat. It's about the price of a half sandwich and cup 'o soup combo at Corner Bakery. My wallet hemorrhages $8 just by being in my pocket.
And it was chump change for what I discovered to be one of the most complete and well-prepared Indian lunch buffets in O.C. Though I haven't found an Indian lunch buffet that I disliked, this one exceeded my expectations.
Even before I sat to eat, I knew they were doing something right: the restaurant was packed, the busiest I've ever seen an Indian buffet get at midweek.
All present were stuffing their faces with rice and curry, returning for seconds, thirds.
I gravitated towards the vat of the ever-popular chicken tikka masala and ladled its addictive silken orange gravy over my rice until I drowned every grain. I gnashed my teeth on their unearthly red-tinged tandoori chicken, picking it down to the bone. I shoved forkful after forkful of saag into my gullet. I chomped on crisp pakoras, and tried to not kill my appetite on too many of their fat, densely-packed samosas. Every bite I slathered in either mint chutney or mango chutney or the simple burn of milled chili paste.
When my face felt like it was going to melt off a la Raiders of The Lost Ark, there was cooling raita and salads to calm things down again.
In the meantime, our waiters had this pathological need to continually replenish our basket of naan -- an obsession we were only too happy to oblige. The flat bread was served scorching hot and slicked with garlic butter.
And once I consumed my eight dollars worth of lunch, there was the dessert bar to milk, where there wasn't just one choice, there were four.
- Gulab jamun (fried bread pudding orbs steeped in honey syrup)
- Rasmalai (Indian cheesecake balls soaked in condensed milk syrup)
- Gajar halwa (sweetened shredded carrots with cheese, nuts and raisins)
- Kheer (spiced rice pudding)
As you might have expected, I'm already looking forward to the next expiring coupon.
Tandoor Cuisine of India
1132 E Katella Ave
Orange, CA 92867
THIS WEEK ON OC WEEKLY:
Bai Plu Thai Cuisine & Sushi Bar - Long Beach**
**Special Thanks to Monster Munching location scout Cecile for the tip on Bai Plu.