Yes, I really AM shouting.
I'll provide more detail in next week's Chow Alert (what, you don't subscribe? Click link below to sign up...it's way different from ChowNews), but I just went completely out of my way to come home NOW and type this in ASAP.
Sajna has had more makeovers and image changes than Cher. And it's always been at least better than average....sometimes really really good. But I just ate their lunch buffet, and I really must insist that you all come eat there IMMEDIATELY. Seriously. Drop what you're doing. It was AMAZING.
I can't figure out who they are anymore, who the chef is, what they're trying to do. It's all been too morphy, and I'm confused. I'm pretty sure they're still Pakistani (at least their dinner menu seems so). The buffet today tasted like a Pakistani chef cooking mostly meatless for a South Indian/Gujarati crowd.
Look, I don't want to analyze it anymore. I'm too giddy to type effectively anyway. Let me just spill recollections at you.
Nothing at all fancy or high-level...just soulful loving cooking. Forgive me, I'm gonna say "soulful" a lot, I think. There was a whole tray of incredible oniony hash browns (onions totally caramelized...LOTS of 'em), tandoori chicken done with no shortcuts whatsoever, SOOO tender, SOOOOO bursting with soulful flavor.....simple stewed zucchini, naturally sweet and soft.....even good rice....lamb in a deceptively simple sauce, the meat just perfect. The only recognizable dish other than the tandoori chicken was that dish - shoot, forgot the name - of slices of okra cooked rather dry with a bit of tomato and a lot of chili. I've had it cooked classier, but never more soulfully.
the buffet costs $4.95. I orderd a mango lassi I didn't want (lousy...go figure, the lassis for a short while were the best thing) just to jack up the price 'cuz I really wanted to pay MORE...LOT'S MORE. I wanted to wash their windows, their dishes. I'm totally full, but I hanker to return and do another pass of the buffet. I curse my capacity.
Sajna has always been wildly variable. I'd never rave about them in print, 'cuz I'd soon be proved wrong as soon as they took their next dive, changed the menu, got a new chef. But this is the web, so I can hand you this latest skinny. GO NOW (do the lunch buffet, not the menu...I can only vouch for the buffet, though that's antithetical to my usual strategy). And note: this endorsement will expire in two weeks. Sajna's a moving target....an enigma wrapped in an enigma wrapped in naan bread.
Right near the 74 st/roosevelt Ave E/F/V/7/R/G trains. On Broadway between 72nd and 73rd, Jackson Heights, Queens.
Fifteen years ago I walked into a little place nobody'd heard of called Jackson Diner, and the food knocked me into a tizzy. It was the first restaurant I ever reviewed, back in 1988 or so (they're not good anymore, I know). Today's meal was equally revelatory.