For the most part, anyone who tells you they had a satisfying All You Can Eat meal cares more about feeling full than eating good food. This holds especially true when you cross below the 20 dollar threshold. So, I won't be offended if you doubt me when I say I really like the 11 dollar no-holds-barred lunch at Barwachi Dosa, a barely noticeable Indian restaurant at the back of a shopping center parking lot on Black Mountain Road.
I've been trying to figure out whyI like it so much, and have gone back a couple of times now, you know, to research. The best answer I can come up with is: tandoori chicken.
I'm not entirely sure how I originally found the place. I think I was meeting some friends for lunch in the area and parked next to it by chance. It's got an awkward entryway that leads into a large foyer with a dosa cart to the right and a dining room to the left. The dosas I haven't tried, though I hear they're a part of the special on weekends.
The dining room is "nice" in the way awards dinners are "nice" — they just throw a lot of linen on the tables and send bussers by to keep the plates and silverware moving. The important part is the northern wall, which presents a gauntlet of heating pans continuously refilled with fragrant curries, stews and rice dishes.
If there's a proper technique to eating all you can, I like to think I've nailed it. My approach is: grab a plate and spoon a little of everything onto it. If anything in particular stands out, I'll hope I'm not too full from round one to go back for more.
I begin by piling basmati rice at the center of my plate, then arranging spoonfuls of other dishes around it, like the numbers on a clock. This day, this included three takes on masala curry: chicken tikka, paneer tikka (with cubes of mild cheese curd) and channa (chickpea). I also gravitated towards the goat curry and aloo palak (spinach with potatoes), as well as pakora and boriyal, which involved fried vegetables and beans, respectively. I'd tell you more about them, but honestly this meal's about as heavy on the brain's linguistic center as it is the stomach.
Of course, there's no way I'm finishing round one without that tandoori chicken. The blended spice rub stands out as one of my favorites across all cuisines, and Barwachi doesn't muck it up. I couldn't see back into the kitchen, so I can't be sure there are any real tandoori ovens back there, but given the texture of the chicken and the fluffiness of the naan brought to our table, I'd speculate there are.
Let's just skip the part where I gorge myself, and move on to the sweet bowl of mango custard that served as refreshing dessert, and then say I left the place both satisfied and full. This is nobody's idea of fine dining, but Indian food's never shy about flavor, and while I'll admit to having the tendency to shove a couple of different sauces together, rarely did any of the individual concoctions taste anything but right on-point. I don't know how the folks at Barwachi keep costs so low — according to their web site they're halaal — but I'm sure I'll revisit the place in a determined effort to figure it out.