It was pretty late  on a Friday evening, when we decided to have dinner at Jalpaan, a vegetarian restaurant located at Adyar, Chennai. The restaurant is located on the third of building on the every busy Sardar Patel Road. For those wondering about where to park, no worries. Jalpaan offers valet parking. However, we chose to park few streets away and took a five minute walk to the restaurant.

I heard a lot of good things about Jalpaan, but it seems like most of these thoughts were outdated. As soon as you enter, you can smell the kitchen and the left of the hallway seemed to be pretty untidy. Once you ignore that, you can find you way to a large hall with tables and some good lighting. The buffet is set to the right and curved around the wall. Though the buffet didn’t look too impressive, we opted for that only because we were too tired to think! For many years now, I have lost my respect for buffets and the experience out here did nothing to change that!

Soups, starters, naans and rotis were served at the table.

Seven Treasure Soup – So not interested in this treasure hunt!

The choice of soups available to us was the Chinese styled seven treasure soup and a Daal Shorba. Both are thin soups. However the former lacked flavor and my bowl was sent back as full as it was when it got to my table, while the later managed to make up for its partner in terms of flavor.

Score 2/5. Thoughts: No soups for me!

From the salad and chaat bar…

There was a selection of salads and most of these are passable. The German potato salad seemed to be coated with mustard sauce and there was nothing to rave about with regards to the pasta salad. The spicy cucumber salad on the other hand seemed different and cool.

Score 1/5. Thoughts:  Maybe just the cucumber

Now, for the starters : Chilli paneer and Chinese style potatoes made up the Indo-Chinese starters and the the vegetarian sheek kabab and aloo tikkis  completed the quartet.  The paneer was a bit tough and both the chilli paneer and potatoes were coasted in a generous dose of soy sauce and chilli garlic sauce while the kebabs and the tikkis set my mouth on fire!

Score 2/5. Thoughts: Blah!

Setting my mouth on fire – The starters.

I was glad for the dispensers that had a continuous supply of butter milk and orange juice. I used the butter milk to cleanse my palette every now and then. This was the only fool proof way to get an idea of the actual flavor of the various dishes on the buffet.  At this point, I should mention that there was a DIY chat counter with pani puri, papdi and samosas. The various chutnies and the fillings for the pani puris were placed separately and all that one needed to do was make a customized chat, if you like that kind of thing. There was also dahi balla, albeit a bit sweet ready for consumption. There was also an unmanned pasta counter and I promptly found someone to order me some pasta. Only pasta in white sauce is served…hmm.

Soon I got a plate with sample servings of everything that was offered. The only items that really stood out where the Bhindi do pyaza, daal tadka, paneer tikka masala (this was  spicy), corn pulao and the hakka noodles.  The rest of the dishes could safely be ignored!

Biryani, Corn Pulao, Mixed Vegetables, Bhindi, Paneer Tikka Masala and Dal Tadka

Soon the pasta made an appearance and I am not quite sure how to describe its extremely sweet taste. It had few pieces of yellow and red bell peppers. I am a fan of great pasta and I sincerely feel that this dish does not do justice to the buffet. Also it seems to be out of place in the midst of an extremely Indian buffet.

Pasta in white sauce!

Score 2/5. Thoughts: Quality looses in face of quantity

Last but  not the least the desserts. An average pastry, kala jamoon which was good but a bit a dry, moong dal halwa, badusha ,a mousse which was just whipped cream piped into some dessert glasses on top of some kind of fruit puree that i believe was  lychee and a choice of vanilla and strawberry ice creams. There were also bowls of seasonal fruits like watermelon and musk melons.

Score 2/5. Thoughts: I am pretty confused about my feelings for this buffet!

Last but the least a finger bowl, a liquid pan shot and our bill.

At about Rs.1100+ I wished we had opted for the à la carte.  I  happened to chance upon on those intelligent diners who had ignored the buffet and ordered from the large menu instead. Some of the dishes that were served to them were utterly mouth watering while the dishes offered on the buffer paled in comparison! I was left wondering if there were a different set of chefs when it comes to delivering the à la carte menu! Jalpaan boasts of a menu that is actually like a very large book and this book has a selection of recipes that are Italian, Mexican and Indian!

If ever there is a next time with Jalpaan, I am definitely opting for the à la carte! Maybe then, I could get more bang for the buck!


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