Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Express Lunch Buffet at Asian Kitchen, Four Points by Sheraton, Vashi

Every once in while my gal pals and I meet up for a girly lunch and gossip in Vashi. We usually go to Inorbit and end up at one of the restaurants there for lunch and follow it up with a bit of browsing and shopping, and finally coffee and cake at the Starbucks there. With so many new places opening up in the area, and a few older ones remaining unexplored we decided to step out of the comfort zone today.

The Four Points by Sheraton at Vashi has three or four restaurants/coffee shops and they have a lunch buffet in one. I looked them up on Zomato and read rave reviews about the Express Lunch at Wrapped, the coffee shop. It sounded good and so that's where we went.

Confusion reigned. The lunch buffet turned out to be at the Asian Kitchen on the second floor, not at Wrapped. I asked at the Asian Kitchen and the staff seemed to have no idea what I was talking about, in fact, one person even called the coffee shop Wraps. Finally I managed to confirm that the Express Lunch had been shifted to the Asian Kitchen from Wrapped to accommodate more guests.

The Asian Kitchen is a lovely airy large space and a great venue for dining out. They also have an open kitchen allowing guests and the kitchen staff to interact. We were led to a nice table by the windows and we settled down for lunch. After ordering a glass of wine for myself we proceeded to check out the buffet spread.

To put it plainly - I was not impressed at all. This was one of the most lacklustre menus I have ever seen. And the selection of dishes seem to be made quite indifferently - there was nothing that piqued my interest or made me drool in anticipation. The selections included  assorted salads which had been portioned into small bowls (which I think is a great idea), a line of chafing dishes holding the main courses, breads and soups on one counter, and two forlorn looking dessert options on one side.

When you approach the buffet from the dining area the first thing you encounter is the dessert, opposite which are the soups. You walk ahead and high up on one side are the salads, and in front at a perpendicular are the main courses. The plates are placed awkwardly below these chafing dishes. Browsing the menu and serving oneself in this weirdly arranged buffet meant constantly going back and forth, bumping into staff and other guests while balancing the plate and trying to see what there is.

The salads included Red Cabbage and Apple Coleslaw, Corn and Bell Pepper Salad, Cucumber in Brown Garlic Yoghurt, Paapri Chaat, and a chicken salad tossed in some green sauce (I've forgotten what it was called). I like to see fresh salad at a salad counter. At least a basic one. And a couple of simple dressings or vinaigrettes. There was none.

This buffet has no starters or snacky things at all. Not a one. There were papads, however.

There were two soups on offer - a vegetarian and a non vegetarian one. We opted for the chicken broth which turned out to be a watery tomato based soup with a reasonably generous smattering of small chicken chunks. Low on flavour and eminently forgettable.

The main course options included -

Daal Lasooni which was nice enough, nothing very exciting.

Oven Roasted Parsley Potatoes. These were quite nice but didn't quite go with anything else on the menu. An Indian masala aloo would have been perfect.

Stir Fried Vegetables - I've never seen a stir fry like this.

Subz Hyderabadi. I didn't try this one so no comments.

Paneer Bemisal - I quite liked this preparation. The paneer was soft and had absorbed the flavours of the gravy quite nicely. It went well with the buttered tandoori rotis that were served hot at our table.

Murghi Lucknowi Masala. Another middle of the road preparation. Nothing spectacular but nice enough with hot tandoori rotis.

Plain Steamed Rice

and a Peas Pulao. I didn't see the sense of having plain rice and then this rice tossed with green peas and fried onions on the menu. A tossed pasta or noodles would have added much more value to the menu, and also would have given guests something to pair the potatoes or that 'stir fry' with.

The desserts on offer were Kiwi Mousse

and Doodhi Halwa.

If one was to compare this buffet menu with what's on offer in other restaurants in Navi Mumbai this buffet is trailing. However, it is probably one the cheapest ones around.

A big grouse I have with this menu is the paucity of non vegetarian fare. One chicken salad and one chicken main course is all that was on offer, along with the soup. Is chicken the only protein they could find? Compared with four or five vegetarian options among the salads, and the same in the main courses I felt non vegetarians like me didn't have much to choose from.

They have a huge open kitchen. A live counter offering freshly made pasta or a wok station doing stir fries or noodles would have been fantastic.

I spoke to the chef who came by to ask what I thought of the buffet and the food. I told him the same things I've said here. Their brief was to aim for the lunch-break crowd from the numerous offices that are nearby, which is why this is called the Express Lunch buffet and is priced at INR 450+Tax. Looking at the as good as empty restaurant, with just one or two other tables occupied, I think they've completely missed the brief. The nearly empty restaurant at peak lunch time seems to echo my sentiments.

I've had some awesome food at the Asian Kitchen (the hubby and I are huge fans of their Breakfast Buffet) and I was quite saddened by this lunch buffet. The place is usually packed for the breakfast buffet which has loads of options including live stations, a selection of cold cuts, hot options like poha, idlis, hash browns, bacon, assorted breads, cereals, eggs to order, tea, coffee, juices... it's awesome!

I'd rather pay a little more and get my money's worth from the numerous other buffet options in the area than pay less and yet come away dissatisfied. Navi Mumbaikars are hungry for good places to dine out and the Asian Kitchen is missing a great opportunity here. I really hope they make this buffet much more appealing.

Express Lunch at Asian Kitchen, Four Points by Sheraton, Vashi - INR 450+Tax per head. 


Sneha said...

Hey! Very nicely put review. My family and I are complete foodies, and we also love trying out new places around New Bombay. We had tried out Asian Kitchen for Valentine's Day 2 years ago, and it was as pathetic as it is when you reviewed it recently :( I can't believe a place like Sheraton-Four Points will be so low in impressing its audiences! By the way, I'm sure you know Soy Street (most of us in this side of town frequent that place for lunch buffets!) They offer 50% discount on lunch buffet every Tuesday :D Two of us went and ended up paying Rs 450 for that unlimited delicious spread. You should visit with your girl gang on a Tuesday :)

Sushmita S Sen said...

Superbly written review Rhea.

Kurush F Dalal said...

Sad to hear this. As you said I just love their breakfast spread. its such a lovely place and if they aren't packing in the crowds for lunch with such a low price point they have obviously lost the plot.
I hope they take a stock of this and take the reccos you have made seriously.
Like I've said its a lovely place and we know the kitchen can churn out some lovely food.
Fingers crossed.

Anjali Koli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anjali Koli said...

That's sad to hear about the Asian Kitchen. I last went there for a Sunday buffet and it wasn't outstanding yet it was good. They served us a variety of starters at the table and juices too. AC was quite happy with their non veg starters but he had commented that the fish was ordinary. The pricing was 3 times more Rs 1400 plus and did not feel justified. The layout of the buffet is something I had given a feedback on when I staycationed there last Dec but they have continued as it was. I agree the breakfast buffet is their best service. I love the ambiance of this restaurant.Hope they improve on the same suggestions about food and layout of the buffet which are given repeatedly by different people. One does experience a lack of energy in the restaurant and we know they are capable of much better.