Indian restaurants and buffet

Chicken Madras 5/22/99
4850 W. Rosecrans Ave., Hawthorne, CA 90250
phone 310-675-5533, fax 310-675-3767

Location. South west corner of Rosecrans Ave. and Inglewood Ave., in a shopping center with a Lucky market. It's at the north west corner of that corner.

Description. Indian food with four all-you-can-eat buffet menus. This paragraph just includes a summary of the main buffet dishes; other details are below. You can also order from the menu, but I won't cover that. (1) The Monday thru Friday lunch buffet runs from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for $5.99. This could offer two chicken dishes and two or three vegetable dishes. (2) The Saturday and Sunday lunch buffet goes from noon to 3 p.m., also for $5.99. This includes similar dishes and also the chef's special Masala Dosa. (3) The Monday and Tuesday night buffet goes from 5:30 to 10 p.m. and costs $6.95. I haven't tried this. I assume it's like lunch, but do call to double check. (4) The Grand buffet which I also haven't tried is Thursday night, maybe from 5:30 to 10 p.m, for $9.95. This includes lamb, three chicken, and three vegetable dishes.

Introduction. I used to call this the best Indian buffet in the South Bay, but now they're almost all good, so I wouldn't want to pick the best. The interesting thing here is the condiment section with chutneys, sauces, etc.; more than I've seen anywhere else. There's also a glass room in the dining room with a cook and a tandoori oven. You can watch him make fresh tandoori bread as you eat. The decor is quite nice, with ceiling fans, etc. The dishes are always good, and each curry has a different taste, as it should. The buffet dishes are mildly spiced, but you can add extra hot sauce, to taste, as Indians do. About the only way I'll eat dark-meat chicken is tandoori style. This is skinless, and on a good day they can get the strong marinade taste and sear that I like.

Salad bar. This is a small, American-style salad bar with a few items. The dressings are in the condiment section.

Condiments. The salad dressings are here and also more condiments then I've seen in other Indian restaurants. I remember mint, tamarind, two hot sauces, apples, cucumbers and yogurt, and maybe more. You don't need to put these on the food, I just take drops of everything for contrast.

Hot foods. All the lunch buffets I've tried include colorful steamed rice, two chicken dishes, and two or three vegetable dishes. You'll almost never see two grains of Indian-style rice stuck together -- how do they do that? On 5/22/99 the vegetables were garbanzo beans in sauce, mixed vegetables in sauce, and pureed charbroiled eggplant. You have to experience the eggplant -- you wouldn't believe how good it tastes. In fact, if I could only have vegetables one way, I might pick Indian. The chicken dishes normally included tandoori chicken and the other was chicken in cashew sauce; another winner. The tandoori chicken was especially good today, with a strong marinade taste and sear that perhaps only I like. In fact, all these dishes were very good, and, although each was a curry, each had a different taste; as it must be. Indians wouldn't serve two dishes with the same flavoring, so the buffet is a good way to check out the restaurant. Also, each dish was mild, not hot. Indians, especially in the north, would add hot sauce, to taste, to each finger-full.

Masala Dosa. The Saturday and Sunday lunch buffet are listed as featuring the chef's special Masala Dosa. Probably every cuisine has something I don't understand and with Indian food it's the appetizers; which is where I would place the Masala Dosa. It's mild, dry slices of potato and onion wrapped in an ultra-thin crepe-like wrapper, cut into sections, which you then wet with a salty vegetable soup. I don't get it, but if they could cut back on the salt, I'd enjoy the soup.

Desert. Indians usually go to specialty, sweet shops for their deserts. But, today it was rice pudding, not the heavy American stuff, more like rice in a sweet, creamy sauce, with a good taste. I prefer this to the typical carrot or cheese-ball deserts.

Conclusion. One of the better Indian buffets. I'm looking forward to trying the dinner buffets.