Buffet Spreads and How to Try Them

If you follow my blog posts, you will know that I am a foodie of sorts. I may not want to eat the same thing over and over again, but I do like to taste everything on offer. This is primarily why the buffet style of dining is the best for me! Buffet lunch spreads let you try everything on a blanket charge. And contrary to what most diners might think, opting for buffet over a la carte at a fine dining restaurant works out much cheaper.

Continental and Indian fare in a single helping!

Continental and Indian fare in a single helping!

The theme for today (as you clearly must have guessed) is buffet spreads. We will now explore all the wonderful cuisines you can try, all at once, if you are lucky! 😉 There are hundreds of buffet restaurants in Mumbai, and this is where I have done most of my food sampling. In this city, you will find almost every cuisine – South Indian, Maharashtrian, Malwani, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Gujarati, Tex-Mex, Italian, Greek, Thai, Chinese, Arabian… and the list seems endless. So much variety and quantity should not intimidate you if you are not a foodie. There are a few tricks to navigate a buffet spread and get the most bang for your buck.

A spicy buffet spread from the South

A spicy buffet spread from the South

First and foremost, pick buffet for lunch. Lunch is when most of us are at our hungriest best. If it is a lazy Sunday, most likely, you will have skipped breakfast. This naturally means you will have more appetite for your first meal of the day. The other advantage is that you always have the option of doing without dinner if you have eaten too much at the buffet lunch. A dinner buffet may sound more romantic and appealing on Friday and Saturday nights. But you might end up with a lot of discomfort while sleeping if you have been a glutton. Lunch buffets give you the time to walk off the excess calories through a simple round of shopping or walking about in the evening. This is even better if you have eaten at a fine dining place in mall and don’t intend to head back to your car immediately.

Say "moshi moshi" to Japanese food at Global Fusion

Say “moshi moshi” to Japanese food at Global Fusion

The next trick is to keep your servings small. The lesser you scoop up at each junction, the more variety you get to taste. Remember that buffet is not a system that encourages you to eat mouthfuls of your favourite dish. Instead, it introduces and urges you to try new preparations. Besides, taking a smaller helping means you won’t be wasting too much food in case you dislike a dish.

Try authentic Bengali preparations at Bijoli Grill

Try authentic Bengali preparations at Bijoli Grill

Most buffet restaurants in Mumbai serve multiple cuisines in a spread. This means, you get to try multiple varieties of the same course and learn the differences among the cuisines. Appetizers, for example, will have some Indian pickles, South East Asian noodles, Italian breads, Arabian dips and Mexican fries in the same zone. Be careful, however, in your enthusiasm of tasting it all, do not mix the items of one cuisine with another. Else, you end up with a mishmash of several items that lose their original flavours. A buffet lunch gives you the luxury of taking multiple helpings. Try one cuisine at a time. This will not overwhelm your palate, and help you remember the distinct taste of each dish or cuisine.

Texan and Mexican dishes are best had at Chili's

Texan and Mexican dishes are best had at Chili’s

All said, my final advice to you will be to forget all the rules I’ve stated above and have a fine time with your friends. Buffets should make you happier, regardless of what, how much and when you eat. They don’t call it “fine dining” for nothing!

All Roads lead to Hyderabad

I finished a much awaited trip to Hyderabad earlier this week. And this time, my experiences beautifully complemented the ones I’ve had on my previous visits to the city of pearls.

Hyderabad as viewed from the heavens above

Hyderabad as viewed from the heavens above

My Friday morning began with a drive to Golkonda Fort, a good 15 kilometres from where I stayed. Golkonda means shepherd’s hill, and rightly so, for the highest point of this citadel requires the strength of a shepherd to scale! This ancient castle was built in the 13th century and has an intelligent acoustic system which it is famed for. What now remain are the ruins of white granite that cast a spell on all tourists that walk on these lands. The complex has landscaped gardens and multilevel arches that adorn the walkways and lead to the base of the ‘stairway to heaven’. And this ‘heaven’ is astonishingly a prison – Ramadas Bandikhana, which is now considered sacred due to the unlawful imprisonment of a loyal Lord-Ram-devotee. A visit to Golconda Fort is highly recommended for the breathtaking views that every yard on the 380-step climb lends the visitor. This heritage site is well maintained and has food-stalls and rest-rooms at strategic locations in the caves. The place is almost romantic with the chipped walls, greens peeping out of stones, and beryl skies playing hide-and-seek behind the white clouds.

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Saturday afternoon saw me waiting under overarching branches of trees outside the Salar Jung Museum as my travel-companion parked the car. This 38-gallery art museum has over a million objects from Far East to North America, and is the world’s largest collection of antiques by a single person. The building showcases artefacts like paintings, carpets, sculptures, arms, apparel, crockery, manuscripts and furniture that Nawab Salar Jung III zealously invested in.

Hot Tip: Time your visit such that you can hear the central grandfather clock chime at the stroke of a new hour.

Nightlife and Dining options in Hyderabad:-

(This list is in addition to the eateries I’ve mentioned in my first Hyderabad-post.)

  • The night I arrived in this city, I had the buffet at The Square, Novotel (near the airport). The food wasn’t much to boast about and the couple of drinks we ordered took our bill to almost 7000 INR. But this is a nice place if you’re bored of the airport-food-court and are starving after your flight.
  • Chutneys is a pocket-friendly restaurant specializing in South Indian cuisines. We ordered guntur idlis (very spicy) and palak paneer dosa, and were served an assortment of 6 exotic chutneys (both coconut based and coconut-free) complimentary!
  • Staying in a southern city doesn’t mean you only have to eat South Indian delicacies. Dil Punjabi proves this with flavours of Punjab. We had ordered veg and chicken soups, hara-bhara kebabs for starters, a roti-basket of Amritsari kulchas, naans and tandoori rotis with a paneer dish (large cubes of paneer) and some chicken preparations (for my non-vegetarian friends) for mains. The food was finger-licking good and the portion sizes, befitting a Punjabi eatery! The restaurant closes in the late afternoon, but if you can persuade the maître d’hôtel, you’ll be allowed to order from limited sections of the menu and enjoy a quiet lunch.
  • Hyderabad is mostly a conservative city and has numbered discs, but the party-scene is gradually picking up. I spent my Saturday night at Hard Rock Cafe as the outlet celebrated its 4th anniversary. A large part of the restaurant and bar area was converted to a dance floor and they played some pop and rock chartbusters.

Hot Tip: Ensure you ‘check-in’ on Foursquare if your bill goes over 1500 INR, for a complimentary tequila shot! 🙂

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Insights from an Insider:-

(This is an exclusive interview with a local Hyderabadi)

Praveen in his Deccan Chargers jersey

Praveen in his Deccan Chargers jersey

Me: How long have you lived in Hyderabad?

Praveen: 20 years

Me: Your favourite thing about this city…

Praveen: Our unique language… ‘Hyderabadi Hindi’. You will only hear it in Hyderabad!

Me: Teach me a phrase in Telugu.

Praveen:  ‘garu’ – giving respect to a person. E.g., Oindrila-garu

Me: When does the city go to sleep?

Praveen: Though Hyderabad is one of the thriving Indian cities, the mindset of the people here is still very traditional. You will notice that a typical Telugu girl still prefers to wear traditional dresses over Western. Likewise, the nightlife here is pretty dormant.

Me: One thing nobody must miss doing here…

Praveen: One should visit all heritage locations like Chowhmalla Palace, Chudi-bazaar, Charminar, Golconda, Taramati Baradari and agar aap hyderabad mein hai toh aapko ek bar toh hyderabadi biryani khaani ‘padingi’ ! (a-la-Hyderabadi Hindi) [Now, that you’re in Hyderabad, you must have Hyderabadi biriyani atleast once!]