Zaika Indian Cuisine

[wp_ad_camp_1]

Hi friends!

Do you have a favorite cuisine? Joel’s favorite is Indian. Mine is Thai… but for me, Indian is a close, CLOSE second. It’s safe to say we have been fans of Indian cuisine for many moons. Back when we lived in Houston, we had an incredible Indian restaurant within half a mile of our house — it was pretty pricey so we only went for special occasions, but boy was it tasty! Since moving to Connecticut we have discovered a few gems that have our undying devotion.

We have our favorite local Indian spots, but every now and it is a ton of fun to try out some new-to-us places. Joel recently heard good things about the lunch buffet at Zaika in North Haven, so we have been wanting to get there for some time. When he came across a coupon in the town newsletter, we took it as a sign that we should most definitely give it a try. 🙂

20171103_120114

It was easy to get there, but the location wasn’t exactly prime. It’s situated just off the highway in what I’d describe as the “industrial” section of North Haven. Not the most trendy of locales, but this didn’t faze us too much. We have discovered many amazing restaurants in random spots so we didn’t let the location dampen our enthusiasm.

We were seated immediately upon arrival. There were a few other groups in the restaurant, but it wasn’t super busy. The atmosphere was that of a typical lunch place, nothing super fancy, and a few business-looking folks out on lunch breaks.

We had the choice of either offering off the menu (which was pretty tempting) or choosing the buffet. We chose the buffet. But as a sidenote, there were plenty of reasonably-priced lunch specials on the menu, which I’d be more than happy to sample next time. Also, I’m pretty interested in the lamb specials for next time!

20171103_120306

We had our hearts set on the lunch buffet this time around, and I tell you what… it did not disappoint. We’ve been to buffets where the selection is much sparser, but this was not the case at Zaika! The offerings included tandoori chicken, chili chicken, chicken marsala, saag paneer, vegetarian noodles, rice, naan, soup, and a couple dessert options. I personally would have loved to see a beef, fish, lamb, or tofu dish in the lineup, but the selection was still pretty stellar as it was.

20171103_120819

I had never had “chili chicken” before, but it was absolutely delicious. In my opinion, it was the surprise standout dish of the meal! The chicken was lightly breaded, the sauce was perfection, and I appreciated the mix of veggies!

20171103_120814

Joel has been a loyal fan of saag paneer for as long as I’ve known him. Because of his deep love for saag paneer, it is a critical part of every Indian meal we have. Over the years, I have grown to love it too. Now Indian cuisine doesn’t feel “complete” unless saag paneer makes an appearance! 🙂 Don’t let the less-than-flattering photo fool you, it is delicious.

20171103_121024-2294163844-1510069983947.jpg

I opted out of the vegetarian noodles as I filled up on plenty of other dishes, but it certainly looked delicious. I like that Zaika included a couple vegetarian alternatives in the buffet lineup. Between the noodles, saag paneer, naan, and rice pudding dessert, there were a decent number of vegetarian options available.

20171103_120929

The service throughout our meal also great. Our server was friendly and efficient. She made sure to keep our water glasses filled, and quickly cleared any used or unneeded dishes/utensils from the table.

The manager also went around checking on customers and lightly chatting with regulars. He was personable, and made everyone feel welcome. We actually realized partway through the meal that our coupon was for dinner, not lunch (oops)! We felt bad, but the manager was awesome and said he’d be happy to apply it anyway. He gets extra points for customer service despite our goof.

[wp_ad_camp_2]

Both Joel and I thoroughly liked everything we tried, with one exception — the chicken tikka. While the sauce was undeniably yummy, but we both felt as though the chicken was a little dry. It wasn’t a deal-breaker though, because there were multiple other amazing chicken dishes on offer. My favorite dish of the meal turned out to be the chili chicken. This was a bit of a surprise favorite — I hadn’t even heard of chili chicken prior to the meal, and certainly hadn’t expected to like it so much. I even went back for more!

20171103_121158

 

Who doesn’t love a good naan? It’s one of those staples that almost always makes an appearance alongside other Indian dishes. Lots of Indian restaurants make interesting varieties of naan, like garlic naan, cheese naan, etc… but funnily enough my favorite has always been plain naan.

The naan at Zaika was decent — not the best, but not bad. I like when naan is fluffy and soft, so for me it was a tad too dense. But hey, I’ll cut them a break. I can imagine it’s not easy keeping naan fresh and fluffy while it’s sitting out at a buffet. And of course it still tasted great!

20171103_121216

We were both too full to consider even a single bite of the rice pudding dessert, so I suppose we’ll have to wait until next time to sample it. I’m sure it’ll be great.

In general, I’d say the lunch buffet is well worth the $11.99 price tag. As I’m sure is the case at most places, many single entrees are at higher price points than that. The nice thing about the buffet is getting to sample multiple dishes, and of course the bonus is getting however many refills you want. All in all, we immensely enjoyed our lunch buffet experience at Zaika and will happily return for a repeat visit.

Check out my other food posts, like this review of the Saltaire Oyster Bar and Restaurant and my tips for hosting a lobster bake!

What is your favorite dish or type of food? What restaurant did you eat at most recently? Are you a fan of Indian food?

[wp_ad_camp_3]

Advertisements

Friday Review: Saltaire Restaurant in Port Chester NY

[wp_ad_camp_1]

 

Last week, our date night adventures took us to Port Chester, New York. We have been to Port Chester several times over the years because my brother used to live there. He and his wife gave us a gift card to one of their favorite places, a restaurant called Saltaire.

wp-image-109928700

We timed the drive perfectly to miss traffic and the dinner rush. Thus, it only took an hour to get there, and we found street parking right in front of the restaurant. We had a reservation, but since it was pretty early when we arrived (5pm ish) the place was fairly empty. It filled up quickly over the course of our meal.

The atmosphere is what I would describe as a rustic nautical chic. Lots of exposed brick, wood beams, and refreshing water-themed wall art, like nautical maps and photographs of sailboats.

wp-image-957576984

Our server was very knowledgeable and attentive – the most “on it” server we have had in a long while. The whiskeys looked good so we both opted for neat glasses instead of going with a wine or beer like we normally would.

The food was incredible – check out the amazing menu.

wp-image-157573192

Joel had the tomato soup and I had clam chowder – yum. I love clam chowder. He also ordered oysters, but I’m not a fan so I passed on those (something about the texture does not float my boat). We both had the halibut special for our meals. So good! And dessert consisted of vanilla gelato for Joel and hot tea for me. Perfection! We couldn’t have been happier with it all.

wp-image-1064907818

Oh and another thing. This is a little on the random side, but I appreciated that the music wasn’t overwhelmingly loud. I never felt like I was yelling or straining to hear Joel. It was easy to have a conversation, and that made the experience enjoyable for us. It’s possible that as the night progresses, the music volume increases (as is the case with most places we’ve gone), but we didn’t have any issues with that.

We were seated at a table near a window, and I felt a bit of a draft. I assumed it was coming through the window, but it could also have been a vent. I was a little cold, which is partly why I went for hot tea with dessert. I was wearing a dress and had bare legs, oops. Seeing as it is September in New England, the temperatures have started to feel more fall-like. I probably should have worn trousers, or at the very least some nylons. I suppose I’m still in denial that summer is over.

One of my favorite things about this particular evening was that over dinner, Joel and I got to discuss some cool ideas that he has. He’s been thinking about the possibility of starting his own business. It was fun to think of all the “could be’s” and toss around some ideas. Who knows if they will come to fruition, but it was fun to talk about! The combination of great conversation, delicious food, and smooth whiskey made this a perfect evening.

We loved the Saltaire experience and would gladly go back. The only two downsides for us are that (1) it is an hour away from where we live, and (2) it’s fairly pricey. But, we drive past Port Chester whenever we head to NYC, so it would be pretty easy to stop in for lunch or something on the way.

Ever been to Saltaire? Do you like oysters? What about whiskey?