Boffo buffet

All-you-can-eat buffets can be a crapshoot. We offer here a few models of consistency.


Rating: NNNNN


NATARAJ

NATARAJ

NATARAJ

(394 Bloor West, 416-928-2925) Perennially popular Indo-eatery in the Annex that won’t frighten the pyrophobic. Best: yogurt- and garam-masala-marinated tandoori chicken Phool gobi tandoori — a whole head of cauliflower cooked in the blast furnace Afghani chicken in cashew paste and cream bhindi bhaji — fresh okra with tomatoes baingan kabharta — roasted and pureed eggplant ethereal tandoor-baked breads. Complete dinners for $25 per person ($15 at lunch buffet), including all taxes, tip and a bottle of imported beer. Open for lunch Monday to Friday noon to 2:30 pm and and and for dinner daily 5:30 to 11 pm. Fully licensed. Access: two-inch step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNN

GOVINDA

GOVINDA

GOVINDA

(243 Avenue Road, 416-922-5415) Forget the Hare Krishna stereotype. On Sunday, before the free vegetarian feast, there is some spiritual activity, but diners not so inclined can come any other day of the week for the veggie spreads sold cafeteria-style in the church’s restaurant. No proselytizing, and it’s tax-deductible, too. Best: no set menu, but expect things like hearty lentil dahl studded with cinnamon bark and whole chilies, meatball-like chickpea kofta with yogurt sauce pureed brussels sprouts with potato ball or potato, cabbage and tofuesque paneer sabzis halwa semolina pudding with raisins and honey. Complete dinners and a glass of filtered water for a suggested $7 donation, no tax, no tip. Open for lunch Monday to Saturday noon to 3 pm and for dinner 6 to 8 pm. Closed Sunday. Unlicensed. Smoke-free. Cash only. Access: 10 steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN

KATHMANDU KATHMANDU

KATHMANDU KATHMANDU

KATHMANDU KATHMANDU

(505A Yonge, 416-924-5787) This unassuming spot on the strip is easy to miss, but it’s a true find. Non-greasy north Indian and Nepalese fare served as an all-you-can-eat buffet. Best: mixed veggie curry of cauliflower, eggplant, carrots and potato eggplant bharta cubes of lamb or goat in fiery tomato sauce $3.99 bargain takeout-only shredded tandoori chicken wrapped in naan, coupled with a mango lassi. Complete lunches for $10 per person ($25 at dinner), including all taxes and tip. Open daily for lunch 11:30 am to 3:30 pm and for dinner 5 to 11 pm. Fully licensed. Smoke-free. Access: short step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNNYOUNG THAILAND (81 Church at Adelaide, 416-368-1368, and 165 John at Queen, 416-593-9291) Wandee Young brought the heat of Thailand to Toronto more than 20 years ago, but pyrophobics needn’t fear dishes that are sometimes surprisingly tame but always tasty. The weekday lunch buffet makes an excellent introduction for novices. Best: mee krob (deep-fried rice vermicelli with chicken and tofu shreds) papaya salad with dried shrimp and peanut garnish panang nuer (coconut-sauced sliced beef with fragrant Thai basil). Complete dinners for $30 per person ($15 at lunch), including all taxes, tip and an imported beer. Both locations open for lunch Monday to Friday noon to 3 pm, and for dinner Sunday to Thursday 4:30 to 10 pm, and Friday and Saturday 4:30 to 11 pm. John location open for a la carte lunch Saturday noon to 3 pm. Fully licensed. Church access: three steps at door, washrooms on same floor. John access: 13 steps at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNN SD

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