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San Francisco Bay Area Indian Berkeley Lunch Buffet

Khana Peena in Berkeley: A Scientific Analysis of an Indian Lunch Buffet

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Khana Peena in Berkeley: A Scientific Analysis of an Indian Lunch Buffet

katya | Feb 3, 2004 04:12 PM

I thought I would relive my Science Fair days through my review.

Statement of Purpose

I wanted to try another East Bay Indian buffet place over the weekend. I thought I’d give Khana Peena on Solano Ave. in Berkeley a shot.

Hypothesis

I’ve heard negative things about Khana Peena’s buffet at their small Oxford Ave. location, and positive things about meals at Khana Peena’s original Solano Ave. location. So, buffet at Khana Peena’s Solano Ave. restaurant must be good, right?

Procedure

Drive to Khana Peena for their $6.99 buffet (which includes a soft drink) which was recently reduced in price.

Subjects Tested

Naan
Rice
CTM (chicken tikka masala)
Mixed vegetable pakora (always cold in buffets)
Dal (weird tasting)
Green bean curry
Aloo gobi (potatoes & cauliflower)
Baigan bharta (eggplant)
Lamb curry
Tandoori chicken
Canteloupe
Lettuce/vegetables
Raita (watery, no complexity)
Gulab jamun
Kheer (with sliced almonds; could’ve benefited from more spicing but one of the best versions I’ve tried)

Observations

The naan was in the buffet, as opposed to served fresh at the table, which is usually a bad sign. However, it was pretty warm, and appeared more griddled than usual with, as my boyfriend called them, “crazy seeds.” (I believe they were black sesame seeds.)

The CTM was a disappointment. First I had to inform our server than there was no chicken left in the sauce. When I did get the chicken it was stringy dark meat and not as tender as the white meat traditionally served in CTM. The sauce was watery.

The website claims that they serve items not usually seen at local Indian restaurants. While that may be true of their regular menu, it’s not reflected in the buffet (which is fine – I don’t know many buffets that do). The vegetarian dishes seemed to be the buffet’s strong points. The green bean curry was oily but good. The aloo gobi in particular was so good that it got my boyfriend to eat cauliflower and he doesn’t usually eat it.!

I’ve never seen a buffet as busy as this one. Granted, only the front part of the restaurant was open for the buffet (I didn’t even know there was a whole back room with booths until I looked at the website), so the area was smaller than most seating areas for buffets. However, all those tables were taken and there was a wait.

We saw many people bringing back their dirty plates to the buffet, which was doubly disconcerting considering the number of people there. We alerted the management to this problem and they immediately taped up an already prepared sign (“Use a clean plate”) which was good, but I wish if they’d posted the sign to begin with and admonished the evil dirty plate users.

Conclusions

It was a pretty mediocre buffet overall with some winners (aloo gobi, kheer) and some losers (CTM, raita). I’m interested in ordering off the regular menu though in the future.

My personal Indian buffet favorites:
1) Priya, Berkeley
2) Mehak, Berkeley
3) Sargam, Walnut Creek

For Further Research
1889 Solano Ave., Berkeley
510.528.2519

Link: http://www.themenupage.com/khanapeena...

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