Lunch Buffet at Mezbaan

After a string of rather pricey Friday lunches, we decided to dial it down this week. One of our favorite places for quality, quantity and low price is Mezbaan at Kingsway and Melbourne in Vancouver. Please don’t equate a bargain price with average quality and shoddy service. There’s none of that here, I assure you.

We got there just before the rush. No big line-ups (this place is still a secret), but the small room does fill up, at least on our handful of visits.

The space is warm, comfortable and inviting…room for about thirty.

As we were a tad early the buffet wasn’t quite ready. Within minutes, however, it was loaded up, ready to go.

This really is tremendous value. For $8.99, today’s selection includes Butter Chicken, Yogurt Chicken, Chili Cheese, Chickpea Curry, Aloo Mutter, Lamb Biryani, Chili Potatoes, Rice Pulao, Tandoori Chicken and Veggie Pakoras. In addition to all that there’s Naan, several salads and Seviya Kheer for dessert.

The Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) here is top-grade. Big hunks of chicken breast in a rich, deep and very flavorful creamy sauce.

The Chili Cheese or Chili Paneer was a very interesting dish. Paneer is a non-melting cheese made from curdled milk and lemon or vinegar. It is used as a meat substitute in vegetarian cuisine. Being as far as possible from a vegetarian, I found this dish irresistible. The blend of coriander, garlic, ginger, chili and soy with the creaminess of the cheese made this a major stand-out. Well executed.

This is a sensational chutney. Achar (Indian Pickle) is a veritable explosion of flavors. Carrot, peppers, cardamom, fenugreek, amongst others are combined and pickled to perfection. Good heat…mind-boggling flavor.

Fresh from the tandoor, the Naan arrived very hot. Still glistening…pillowy soft. Great on their own, but even better for gathering up excess goodness from your plate.

Again, a dish that’s great on it’s own, the Lamb Biryani was also a nice vehicle for absorbing it’s surrounding sauces. As with most buffets, when you load up on a variety of items, the subtle flavors tend to get lost.

No subtle flavors here! Mezbaan’s Tandoori Chicken has a good solid whack of chili heat and an all-round amazing taste. Very tender, moist and addictive.

Due to my none-too-subtle photogging, the Chef/owner dropped by to ask our opinions of the food. We made mention of Saffron‘s buffet (by comparison) and told him we much prefer his food. We were somewhat stunned to hear that he was, until a couple of years ago, Saffron’s chef! He explained that one reason for the more “authentic” taste comes from his use of a clay tandoor as opposed to Saffron’s use of an electric one. Old-school wins again.

A great way to round out this minor feast was a nice cool bowl of Seviya Kheer (Vermicelli pudding). Although missing the nuts and raisins, this was still delicious and very refreshing. For an authentic recipe and video check out this page.

For a well-rounded, very fresh and value-priced lunch buffet, it’s hard to beat Mezbaan. Get there before the word gets out.

Mezbaan on Urbanspoon

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