While dining out for lunch on weekdays has been a rare occurrence for me as of late, meeting up with my sister Felicia during the work day has never happened. So it was a particularly nice occasion when we could do so to try the lunch buffet at Nariyanni’s for the first time. We were invited as guests of the restaurant.
Just off the busy Whyte Avenue strip, the family-run Nariyanni’s is located a beautifully converted heritage auto body garage. Specializing in South African Indian food, Nariyanni’s offers a lighter type of fare when compared with other mainstream Indian buffets. Their "clean eating" philosophy also extends to accommodating those who are gluten and dairy intolerant, making it an attractive option to those with certain food restrictions.
Last Tuesday, Felicia and I were welcomed into the restaurant. We settled into a comfortable booth, marveling at the warm décor and flow of the space. I liked that the circular buffet station was at the centre of the room, mimicking the place of a kitchen as the heart of a home. And with a sign pronouncing that all food is prepared by "Mama", it did feel like we were among family.
The $12 buffet (cash only, from Tuesdays to Fridays from 11:30am-1:30pm) is an unbeatable value – salad, soup, rice, three vegetarian selections, one meat option plus dessert, it’s hard to imagine how Nariyanni’s recoups the cost.
Felicia helps herself
Felicia and I happily sampled our way through most of the buffet, heartily enjoying the braised kale and cabbage, dhal and eggplant, sautéed butternut squash and chicken curry. Our favourite dish may have been the kale and cabbage – it was nice to have different textures available on our plates. Warm roti was also offered to us, a lovely, flaky accompaniment to soak up the sauces and soup. Through the course of our meal, the heat level snuck up on us, though diners with a higher tolerance for spice will be just fine.
Our modest spread
It was a leisurely lunch for us, but other parties with less time on their hands were in and out in a half hour. And though we were comfortably full, we didn’t feel as sluggish as we may have exiting a different type of buffet or quick-serve establishment.
Thanks Nariyanni’s for the introduction to a wonderful lunch option in Old Strathcona. I hope to be back with Mack in tow for the dinner buffet soon!
10131 81 Avenue