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Indian Buffets in Northern NJ?


scott123
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I had finally settled in on, and was quite happy with, Mehndi's buffet, but I just called them and it sounds like they've shut down their buffet for good- even post Covid.

 

So, now it's back to the painstakingly arduous task of finding the best buffet in Northern NJ- made even more difficult by the fact that so many places are still waiting to bring their buffets back.
 

Any recs on currently open buffets would be appreciated tremendously.  Parsippany would be preferred due to proximity, but I'll take Edison recs as well.

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On 11/22/2021 at 3:57 AM, MetsFan5 said:

They do offer a three course lunch menu for $19 which is a steal IMO given the  prices at Ming. I am not a big fan of Indian food but have heard great things first hand about Begum Place in Madison: 

https://www.begumpalacenj.com


Have you had Menhdi's lunch menu?  I'm curious about the portion size.  If I have to buy two lunches to match what I'd normally get at the buffet, that starts getting pretty expensive.  And, yes, I do eat a lot- not day to day, but, when I buffet, I feast.

I used to frequent Begum, but, it's been at least 5 years.

 

Indian restaurants require two things to be great, imo.

 

1. A huge local Indian population

2. Competition from as many other local restaurants as possible

 

Menhdi is in Morristown, but it has roots in Edison.  Begum is, for lack of a better descriptor, kind of Madisonian :)  

But, thanks.  It's lunch time, I'm hungry, so I think I'm Begum bound.

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Nice let me know how it goes! I do know the Mehani family that owns Ming and Mehndi and their original locations-/ I went to school with their kids. 
 

I do like Ming a lot.  I’m always blown away while there that it used to be a Bennigans (that I worked at no less). Mmm Ming. I may order dinner from them tonight via Grubhub. 

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6 hours ago, MetsFan5 said:

I do like Ming a lot.  I’m always blown away while there that it used to be a Bennigans (that I worked at no less). Mmm Ming. I may order dinner from them tonight via Grubhub. 


I used to dance at that Bennigans- both with dates, and on my own. (Did I say that out loud?) I was actually just thinking about those over the top desserts the other day.  

Begum was... disappointing.  Every dish on the buffet was room temp.  They had a help wanted sign- with only one visible person up front.  Cold (or burnt) buffet dishes are a staffing issue. You don't need a dedicated person to work the burners, but, it does require quite a lot of attention.

 

The okra was very chewy/undercooked.  The goat was bony as heck, but, goat (and lamb) is always bony.  I really wish buffets would just stop doing lamb and goat. On the buffet that I went to in Plainsboro last week, it was close to closing and the lamb was completely untouched.

The CTM, had it been warm, would have been pretty good.  The tandoori chicken, though, could have been the worst tandoori chicken I've ever had.  It was the boniest areas of the thigh and leg. It was pretty much all grizzle and bone- and tiny little bones- at least 4 bones per bite.  Thinking about it today, I'm pretty sure that what they did was to saw off thighs and legs perpendicular to the bone, separate off the middle/edible fleshy areas for the curry dishes, and leave only the grizzly joint ends for the tandoori. Imagine a chafing dish filled only with pieces of chicken that were all just the top inch of a chicken drum. I understand how hard restaurants have been hit, and how a struggling restaurant owner might see the microscopic amount of meat in chicken joints and not want to throw it away, but, this is a black mark that I don't think I can ever forgive.

I hate to say this, but, I think covid effectively killed the Indian buffet.  I think it was only marginally sustainable pre-covid (Mehndi was always empty), but the down time, the loss of revenue and the staffing issues has made it completely unsustainable now.  I really hope that I'm wrong, and that places can bounce back, but, after seeing what Begum was, and seeing the impact of the pandemic, I'm not so sure they can.

Ming sounds a bit rich for my blood.  I might be able to justify spending big bucks on a 1776 steak once a year, but, big bucks on Indo-Chinese?  Eh.  

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I’m really sorry if I misdirected you— I am not a fan of Indian food. I do like like Ming and you’re correct it is expensive but I suppose I’m used to it now. I only go there when I’m flush and enjoy it. Personally I’m not a huge shopper so I don’t mind spending money in local restaurants. I’m fortunate enough to be able to do so. 

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I've always been curious about the offerings in Edison given the large Indian community.  It's just a bit far for me to venture over less I had 'real' reason to.  Have you guys ever been? Worth a trek?

That wasn't chicken

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20 hours ago, MetsFan5 said:

I’m really sorry if I misdirected you— I am not a fan of Indian food.

 

No worries, I knew that Indian food wasn't/isn't your thing.  I was mostly pontificating, as I'm apt to do :)

Do you have a favorite egg roll in the area?

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9 hours ago, Eatmywords said:

I've always been curious about the offerings in Edison given the large Indian community.  It's just a bit far for me to venture over less I had 'real' reason to.  Have you guys ever been? Worth a trek?


I've always relied on Parsippany for my buffet fix.  I don't have exact numbers, but I'd guess that the Indian population in Parsippany is comparable to Edison. It might be a case of the grass seeming greener, but, right now, I think Edison has the edge.

The Mehtani Group has, imo, carved out the position of top dog.  Or maybe I should say that they've been able to outlast their competitors.  I could tell you everything that was wrong with the (now closed) Moghul (Morristown) buffet, and I could go into great detail about the shortcomings of the (no longer offered) Mehndi buffet, but, the shortcomings are far fewer and far less egregious than other current offerings.  I mean, the last time I went to one of my favorite places in Parsippany, Spice Grill, the naan had been frozen.

So, within the decimated current landscape, it may not be the best buffet out there, but, I think that Moghul in Edison has the greatest potential for a life changing experience.  The old Moghul in Morristown was glorious to behold. And Mendhi was a step down, but was still best in class.

 

I don't know when, but I will absolutely be making the very long trip to Moghul.

Tandoori Flames (Parsippany) gets an honorable mention.  It's the best naan you will ever come across. They basically treat Naan like Neapolitan pizza and bake it at blistering temps.  But the rest of the menu is super banal.
 

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On 12/6/2021 at 1:36 PM, Eatmywords said:

I've always been curious about the offerings in Edison given the large Indian community.  It's just a bit far for me to venture over less I had 'real' reason to.  Have you guys ever been? Worth a trek?


  I am not an Indian food fan but I do know the Mehani family as mentioned and they have had generations of success in Edison. 
 

  I received and email about this:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/flipboard.com/@Patch/watch-popular-youtuber-eats-24-hours-worth-of-parsippany-indian-food/a-SFLmDH6TSf-FCtZDAr9o7w%3Aa%3A2429204041-7ef957e81f%2Fpatch.com%3fformat=amp

 

But obviously anyone who does that is particularly insane or has a stomach capable way beyond my own. 
 

 

 

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On 12/6/2021 at 10:50 PM, scott123 said:

 

No worries, I knew that Indian food wasn't/isn't your thing.  I was mostly pontificating, as I'm apt to do :)

Do you have a favorite egg roll in the area?


 

Hmm that’s hard because I don’t think most places do egg rolls particularly well. I have found most of the Thai restaurants to be of decent quantity if not overpriced, but then again what isn’t in the area? I genuinely miss the Hunan Room in Morris Plains, a causality of covid. And Chef Jon’s in Whippany. 

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7 hours ago, MetsFan5 said:

Hmm that’s hard because I don’t think most places do egg rolls particularly well. I have found most of the Thai restaurants to be of decent quantity if not overpriced, but then again what isn’t in the area? I genuinely miss the Hunan Room in Morris Plains, a causality of covid. And Chef Jon’s in Whippany. 


I'm normally a Darwinist/survival of the fittest/the market forces will prevail kind of guy, so, in the past, when a restaurant would shut down, I'd be fairly optimistic that something comparable would pop up in it's place, but, this is different.

Thai egg rolls can frequently be on point, but, they're not the traditional filling that I grew up/search for. Personal preference might come into play here.  Chinese egg rolls these days tend to be fairly greasy- that's something that I look for :)

The other Chinese restaurant offering that I've searched far and wide for is Chicken and Broccoli (brown sauce) with soft/well cooked broccoli.  I've done back flips trying to get my local place to cook the broccoli sufficiently, and I've come to the conclusion that it just isn't possible. 
 

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14 hours ago, scott123 said:


I'm normally a Darwinist/survival of the fittest/the market forces will prevail kind of guy, so, in the past, when a restaurant would shut down, I'd be fairly optimistic that something comparable would pop up in it's place, but, this is different.

Thai egg rolls can frequently be on point, but, they're not the traditional filling that I grew up/search for. Personal preference might come into play here.  Chinese egg rolls these days tend to be fairly greasy- that's something that I look for :)

The other Chinese restaurant offering that I've searched far and wide for is Chicken and Broccoli (brown sauce) with soft/well cooked broccoli.  I've done back flips trying to get my local place to cook the broccoli sufficiently, and I've come to the conclusion that it just isn't possible. 
 


oh I absolutely agree. It’s impossible to find a good chicken or even beef and broccoli dish without almost raw broccoli. Makes me nuts.  What’s your local place? 
 While I enjoy raw broccoli in a crudités dish I do not in a cooked dish. 
 

  I’ve never been an egg roll enthusiast, potstickers are more my thing. and most have extremely thick skins which is not ideal imo. 

Edited by MetsFan5 (log)
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On 12/8/2021 at 3:59 AM, MetsFan5 said:


  I am not an Indian food fan but I do know the Mehani family as mentioned and they have had generations of success in Edison. 
 

  I received and email about this:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/flipboard.com/@Patch/watch-popular-youtuber-eats-24-hours-worth-of-parsippany-indian-food/a-SFLmDH6TSf-FCtZDAr9o7w%3Aa%3A2429204041-7ef957e81f%2Fpatch.com%3fformat=amp

 

But obviously anyone who does that is particularly insane or has a stomach capable way beyond my own. 
 

I'm only on the first place in the video and I want to go there now.  Had no idea Parsippany had such an Indian presence (and It's only an hour from us).  Will definitely try to get there esp this Dhaba Express.  Thank you! 

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That wasn't chicken

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13 hours ago, Eatmywords said:

I'm only on the first place in the video and I want to go there now.  Had no idea Parsippany had such an Indian presence (and It's only an hour from us).  Will definitely try to get there esp this Dhaba Express.  Thank you! 

Hope it works well for you. Indian food has been prevalent in Parsippany for a few decades. 

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On 12/9/2021 at 2:54 AM, MetsFan5 said:


oh I absolutely agree. It’s impossible to find a good chicken or even beef and broccoli dish without almost raw broccoli. Makes me nuts.  What’s your local place? 
 While I enjoy raw broccoli in a crudités dish I do not in a cooked dish. 
 

  I’ve never been an egg roll enthusiast, potstickers are more my thing. and most have extremely thick skins which is not ideal imo. 


I've easily been to over 300 Indian restaurants, but, as much as I love Chinese American restaurants, I don't think I've covered enough ground to give my local place any real kind of endorsement.  It's just sort of my local place by default.  Anyway, it's Hunan Wok in Florham Park.  I like the egg roll, and I like the dumplings- but the dumplings are somewhat thick skinned.

My relationship with dumplings is complicated.  The dumpling making scene in Crazy Rich Asians brought a tear to my eye.  I should be able to tell you where the best dumpling is in this area. With almost every other dish, I have very stark metrics.  For instance, I know exactly what I want in a pizza, down to an extremely granular level.  With dumplings, though, as many as I've consumed... I know that I like a fairly thick skin, but, other than that, I know that I've had better ones in the past- when I lived in Manhattan, a local place had chicken dumplings to die for, but, I can't really put my finger on what traits I'm looking for.  And spending the 7 or so bucks to try them at different places.... eh.  I think I tried the egg rolls at about fifteen local joints.  For a great egg roll, I can risk about $1.35 fifteen times. But, coming up short on $7 dumplings... that would hurt :) 

When I'm trying to better my lot in life, dumplings are what I think about. Not a house on the beach, not a trophy wife.  Dumplings.

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