I generally have a hard-and-fast rule when it comes to buffet dining: Avoid at all costs. But there’s just something about an Indian buffet that sends that rule out the window and plate after plate of delicious Indian cuisine into my stomach.
Whether you practice moderation in your eating habits or not, Kanishka Cuisine of India offers an impressive lunch buffet alongside its extensive dinner menu, which includes food cart-style appetizers and a wide selection of Northwest Indian cuisine.
Diners can choose between vegetarian and non-vegetarian lunch specials ($10.95 to $12.95) or opt for the buffet ($9.95 per person on weekdays), which manages to succeed in both variety and quality, one of which is often an Achilles heel when it comes to buffets.
The restaurant is divided into two sections, with the buffet served in more of a back room. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes are well-represented, with a section devoted to each. No trip to an Indian buffet is complete without at least one helping of chicken tikka masala, and Kanishka’s offering of the creamy, tomato-based dish meets expectations. Vegetarian customers can get their tikka masala fix with the paneer (a soft white cheese) version.
In fact, it’s at the vegetarian corner of the buffet where some of Kanishka’s best dishes can be found. I don’t often think I could hack it as a vegetarian, but if any type of food could convince me, I think it’d be Indian. The aloo gobi, featuring large pieces of cauliflower and potato in a fairly dry onion/tomato coating, is a standout, as is the channa masala, which boldly empowers its garbanzo beans with a tangy sauce.
Of course, becoming a vegetarian would mean missing out on the mint chicken, which brought the heat much more than I’ve come to expect from a buffet, where dishes are generally kept mild and all-diner-friendly. My visit also featured a goat curry, with the tough and chewy goat meat still on the bone. I’d much rather see a lamb dish offered, but I suppose there’s someone out there who really loves goat.
Kanishka offers both plain basmati rice — which suffered slightly from both dryness and a fair amount of crunchy, undercooked grains — and kashmiri rice, a saffron-tinged dish peppered with beans and nuts. Don’t forget the customary mango custard — much creamier and more satisfying than most buffets — and the rice pudding to top it all off.
I’ve dined at a fair amount of Indian buffets where the self-service nature of the operation seems to ensure the servers are all but nonexistent, but that’s not the case at Kanishka, which features the most attentive water glass refilling I’ve ever experienced. The one time I found the bottom of the glass during my visit, it was refilled within 20 seconds with a polite apology for the inconvenience to boot. If this is what being inconvenienced looks like, I could get used to it.
Kanishka’s lunch buffet is available from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. During that time, diners can also fill a to-go box from the buffet for $6.50. Dinner is served from 5 to 10 p.m. seven days a week.