Okay, we all know buffets are what they are. I tried Chola in the Home Depot strip mall on the northeast corner of 620 and IH35 in Round Rock today. It was suggested by several Indian students I work with here at UT.
My overall impression is that it's by far the best Indian buffet in town, followed a close second by the overly oily but almost as good (and authentically flavored) Sarovar on Burnet. For range finding, I would hold Chola in stark contrast to Clay Pit (the buffet at least), which I find disagreeable. My thoughts about Cholas more impressive dishes will follow what I thought was off:
No Naan? Maybe this newbie didn't find it or ask? But I saw none. Must have been an oversight. The masala fish was not a hit in my book. Looked like Tilapia. Underwhelming overall. The curried whole garlic cloves was not my favorite either, a sort of heartburn fire hot dish with little balance. Basically really kicked up stewed tomatoes and onions.
The good stuff:
The chicken biryani, divine. A little aesofetida perhaps? It has a kick but it's well balanced. It's also made with bone in chicken - the only way to really make a rich chicken biryani to me.
The Saag Paneer, best I've ever had, including 7 years eating at all the best (and worst) Indian joints in the DC Metro area. This version has lovely cubes of tender fresh cheese, but the cream is much less heavy feeling (and soupier) than most versions, and has a lovely and delicate flavor. A winner. This dish doesn't just glop into a pile on the plate like most of its siblings around town do, and actually is well suited for a little bowl.
Coconut Chutney - a tad better than Sarovar's, a little fresher with stronger coconut flavor and discernably larger chunks of nutty goodness. Has that sort of cream of wheat finish.
Stuffed grilled eggplants: delish, hot, spicy, rich with fennel / anise flavors balanced with the heat, etc. Not oily. A little charred. great.
Goat curry, solid, not overwhelmingly good.
Lentils - spicy, hot, and delicious.
Chilly Chicken - fried small breaded morsels of chicken with jalapenos and spices. Good, but a little bit geared toward the high calorie commandos in the audience.
The fried bread / cream dessert. Worth the drive alone. this is a lot like gulab jamun, but instead of balls of dough, it's little triangles of fried bread laid out in a tray and drunken with a sweet cardamon cold cream sauce. Not nearly as sweet as Gulab, and Absolutely lovely. And no, for the rose water fans, it had none. I tend to shy away from rosewater.
I'm convinced the menu must be great if the buffet is this good. Will report back after trying.
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