Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bombay Garden, Santa Clara

Bombay Garden
Indian cuisine in Santa Clara, most famous for its buffet

Recently, we've been quite turned on to the idea of Indian buffets. Passage To India is our nearest local one (not counting the place on Castro Street that I got stomach cramps from once, which has a new name and might be worth another try), but Bombay Garden is the king of Indian buffets in the area so far. Where Passage To India is only a weekend dinner buffet, Bombay Garden has a permanent lunch and dinner buffet. Though you don't have to eat at the buffet, we've never done anything else there.

We first went to the Bombay Garden over in Fremont, at the advice of a friend who said it was the best Indian buffet he knew. Soon after, this one opened at Lawrence and El Camino, so we tried it out. The service was better--it didn't take us twenty minutes to get a basket of nan--and the food was just as good.

Unlike Passage To India, they only serve one type of nan, but it's enough. It comes out hot and fresh in the baskets, and you should eat it while it's hot, because it's not as good once it cools. By the time you get back from your first buffet trip, the nan should be waiting.

Bombay Garden has a nice setup where one side of the buffet is vegetarian and the other has meat dishes. Everything is delicious, and it's a little spicy, but not too bad (except where noted). Don't neglect the southern Indian cuisine on the side table near the desserts (or maybe it's northern; I mix those up all the time). We love the malai kofta there, and the lamb sausage (cooked on skewers, so you can still see the small center hole). The sag paneer is always good, and this time around, the veggie masala was terrific as well. Everything has a good, distinct flavor, not too spicy, and it's popular enough that all the dishes remain fresh.

The gulab jamun are good, but nothing special, and in fact that describes all the desserts. But the rest of the food is good enough to make up for it.

The biggest problem with Bombay Garden is that you'll have trouble getting out of your chair at the end of the meal. But that's okay: they keep on a rotating cycle of Indian movies, so there's entertainment until you feel well enough to leave.

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