Overall, I found this $9.99 lunch buffet disappointing. For one there were no rare regional dishes like I find at Turmeric or Passage to India. Grand serves the classics, and they have a sizable spread; however, it's not that appetizing to look at or eat, really. In fact, when I went back for my last plate of food (usually the "best hits" round where I take my favorites from round 1 and 2 I was seriously at a loss at what to get. Instead I filled up on dessert - 3 kinds, in fact.
I ate here at 1:15 p.m. on a weekday and the place was just over half full. However, the naan in the buffet was cold. (I always prefer my Indian buffets to have fresh naan brought to the table.) Also, the uppatham (one of the best parts of the meal even though it was oddly too bready) was too cold, as were the onion and spinach pakora.
After realizing all the meat in the sauced chicken dishes consisted of dark meat (it's a personal preference but I like white meat, especially tandoori white meat), I stuck to the vegetarian items after eating an unappetizing piece of chicken masala. The one hit among the meat - the chicken tikka. My leg was nice and moist, though unusually small, and it was a weird flourescent reddish pink in color. I mean, more so than the usual fluorescent reddish pink chicken tikka..
Among the vegetarian dishes, the channa masala was pretty good as was the vegetarian masala. The big winner was the palak paneer, which was nice and a little creamy (though I didn't see any actual cream). On the other side of the creaminess spectrum, the vegetarian korma tasted only of cream.
The lemon rice had a nice flavor on its own; however, it didn't work with some dishes. I liked that there were several rice dishes to choose from.
In the salad bar area, the iceberg was wilted and browning on the edges. That made me wonder if the lettuce isn’t fresh and it’s visible, what is the age and condition of the food covered in sauce?
For dessert I had kheer (good but not enough spicing), the pudding with apples (too sweet), and the mango soft serve (the best choice).
I was very disappointed with the service. I had to ask for my first glass of water. I was seated by myself in the corner and didn't see a server very often so I gave up waiting for the check after about 7 minutes and asked for it at the counter and paid there. Also, the floor next to the steam trays had lots of big drops of sauce all over the place. I never saw anyone clean it up even though there were employees standing around not doing anything in the host station/counter area.
This place is located on one of those cloverleaf onramp streets between Central and Lawrence Expressways. Unfortunately, when I missed my exit, it was tricky finding my way back. If you go (and I’m suggesting you don’t and instead check out Turmeric), be sure to know where to exit the expressway. (Turmeric is much less soulless looking, too. Grand is cavernous with not much in the way of wall decorations.)
My Current Indian Buffet Rankings:
1) Turmeric, Sunnyvale
2) Passage to India, Mountain View
3) Priya, Berkeley
4) Bombay Garden, Sunnyvale
5) Mehak, Berkeley
6) Sargam, Walnut Creek
7) Mayuri, Santa Clara
8) Maharaja?, Mtn View --- on Castro St., can't remember name but it's not Sue's, maybe Godavari?
9) Tandoori Mahal, San Francisco
10) Taj, Sunnyvale
11) Khana Peena, Berkeley
12) Sahib, Richmond
13) Swarna,Walnut Creek
14) Mezbaan, Santa Clara
15) GRAND INDIAN BUFFET, Sunnyvale
16) Tandoori Bites, San Jose
17) India Palace, Berkeley
18) Raj, Oakland
19) Nawab, San Mateo
Grand Indian Buffet
1214 Apollo Way, Suite# 404B
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
(Intersection of Central & Lawrence Expressways)
Indian buffet thread with Grand praised by Pengrin: