Following tedm's suggestion after my horrific experience at Sabina (shudder), I tried the lunch buffet at Khana Khazana, a recently opened north Indian restaurant in Emeryville near 45th and San Pablo. I enjoyed it, and will probably return.
The buffet was not quite your standard buffet. Almost every buffet I've been to has a standard set of things: sag paneer, chicken tikka masala, and both chicken and lamb curries. This one had none of the above. Indeed, some of the dishes were ones I did not recognize, and didn't retain the names of. I'll try.
Rice and naan and dal curry, of course. Pakora, but the kind with a mixed mash of veggies inside, rather than individual ones. Mixed vegetable curry. Another vegeterian dish that I forget (perhaps the spinach+potato curry?). A chicken curryish dish heavy with cardamon and bell peppers. A buttery-coloured dish with what we first thought was lamb, but turned out more falafel-esque. And tandoori chicken. Ah, and complimentary chai.
Everything was spiced intensely, but in a good way: each bite tasted balanced, even if this one had a cardamom pod, and that one extra turmeric.
The tandoori chicken was my favorite, which completely shocked me. Normally, I find tandoori chicken to be just so-so, even at places where it's their "specialty". Not so here: the chicken was cooked just until done, but still tender and moist, and there weren't any of those "black on one side, raw on the other" pieces.
There was always someone wandering around the tables, ready to pick up plates or refill water. The buffet also didn't suffer the heat lamp syndrome; each section was small, and most were refilled twice while we were there. (my first trip through I had ignored the pakora and tandoori, but backtracked when I saw those two being refilled).
Excellent service, friendly staff, and pretty good food, although the buffet was lighter on hot curries and meat than is my preference. A good flow of people at noon. Parking was trivial on a weekday noon (open street parking nearby, and supposedly a free lot in the back). Nicely priced at $6 for the buffet.
The menu suggests that dinner might be even better. Instead of the normal "dish, or thali dish", most dishes are served separately, but there are three thali options listed. Each one lists not one entree, but several. The "chef special thali" reads: tandoori chicken, boti kabob, chicken tikka, mattar paneer (peas+cheese), seekh kabob, lamb curry, and the standards (pillaf, naan, salad, kheer, raita, tea), all for $18. I'm thinking that will be my next feast there.
4336 San Pablo
free delivery (>$20), catering
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