I love a good Indian buffet. Not only is it the perfect opportunity for a non-decisive person like myself to try multiple items off of a menu, but it’s also a great way to get a feel for a new restaurant and decide if you like it enough to come back for a full dinner or takeout. So when I saw that Minar Indian Cuisine was opening in the former location of B-rad’s Bistro in Troy and that they were offering a weekend lunch buffet, I was curious to see what this place had to offer.
For $10, the weekend lunch buffet is priced somewhat reasonably compared to other local competitors. The weekday buffet appears to be a dollar cheaper at $9.
On this visit, they had out the following dishes: plain basmati rice, tandoori chicken, chicken tikka masala, vegetable pakora, vegetable korma, curry chicken, some type of sliced cabbage dish, a chickpea salad, raita, and a few other condiments. I tried a small portion of just about everything to decide what was worthy of a second round.
I liked the cabbage quite a bit, with a little touch of curry seasoning and a crunchy bite. I also liked the fried vegetable pakora fritters, which were fried perfectly and had a nice mix of chunky vegetable components. But for me, the real beauty of Indian food is dipping up lots of sauce with wedge after wedge of naan. And I’m happy to report that the sauce on the chicken tikka masala was great – not overly creamy, a nice rich seasoning base, and even some little bits of fresh herbs shining through. Also fantastic was the mint chutney (one of my favorite Indian condiments). You could see little chunks of ground up herbs in the sauce, and it was a particularly piquant and tart version of this classic.
The naan was quite enjoyable as well. It was freshly prepared and dropped off at my table halfway through the lunch, but definitely ended up being worth the wait. The slices were slightly on the denser side, which gave it a nice hearty feel.
But while I really enjoyed the sauces, the naan, and the fried vegetable fritters, I found most of the meats to be underwhelming. The chicken tikka masala was filled with large cubes of white meat chicken that were cooked to a woefully dry point of no return. The tandoori chicken was similarly dry and on the plain side. Yes, some of this could be the sad outcome of the lunch buffet setup, where food continues to be heated past its prime. But some of it could also be the kitchen’s execution.
The decor at Minar is fairly minimal, but the space seemed clean and open. It was perfectly adequate for a quick lunch buffet if you’re in the area, but nothing was really screaming at me to return for a full visit. A quick skim of the menu shows fairly common Indian-American specialties, including items like kebabs, curry, korma, vindaloo, tikka masala, and biryani dishes prepared with either chicken, shrimp, lamb, or beef (plus two goat options). There were no south Indian dishes like dosas.
Overall I felt like this place was pretty standard as far as Capital District Indian buffets go. I have a feeling that the fried dishes on the full menu (like samosas) are probably quite good, as whoever is working the fryer knows what they’re doing. And if you like lots of sauce and naan like I do, you’ll probably be able to leave happy and full for a decent price. But if you’re looking for the absolute best Indian sit-down meal or takeout in the area, I’m not yet convinced that Minar is the standout place based on its buffet showing alone.