The Weekday Lunch Buffet at Kumar’s (Apple Valley, MN)


Sometime in the next few weeks I’ll be posting the 2022 edition of my Twin Cities South Asian/Indian restaurant rankings. Those who’ve read the original list and my 2021 follow-up will recall that I placed Kumar’s in the second tier in both. In the interim their profile seems to have gone up a bit. I believe they were named the best Indian restaurant in the region in some poll or the other—and I’ve been seeing their name pop more and more on food groups on Facebook. Not having visited or gotten takeout from them yet this year, it seemed appropriate to check them out once more before updating my 2022 list. I’d hoped to get the usual crew together for a weeknight dinner but when I found myself in the area in search of a meal at lunch time last week, I decided to stop in by myself. Here’s how it went.

My first-ever visit to Kumar’s, as it happens was also for a solo weekday lunch. This was not too long after they opened towards the end of 2019. On that first visit I ate a lunch thali that I quite enjoyed (that report also details our experience of their more elaborate weekend thali not too long after) and I walked in last week hoping to eat another one of those. (It was a Tuesday, you see, and the Upper Midwest’s weekday lunch thali champions, Kabob’s, are close on Tuesdays.) I then discovered that they no longer do a weekday lunch thali—those are saved for the weekends. They do, however, now have a weekday lunch buffet. Neither part of this be news to regular visitors—I’ve not eaten in at Kumar’s since the pandemic began. I asked if I could take a look at the buffet and having found it intriguing enough, I grabbed a table.

The Kumar’s menu, as those who’ve eaten from it know, skews heavily towards South Indian food and particularly towards Tamil Nadu (with some Andhra dishes as well). They do have some of the North Indian all-stars on the menu but this is really as a sop to those who expect to find those things on an Indian restaurant’s menu. So it is at the weekday lunch buffet. At the buffet on my visit there was a tray of tandoori chicken and two tikka masalas (chicken and paneer) and naans for those looking for them; and there was also Chennai chilli fish, tomato rasam, chicken kolambu, curd rice and kesari for those looking for something different. And for $2.99 you can add on a made-to-order small dosa, which comes with a trio of chutneys, a bowl of sambar and masala-alu. Really, you’d be a fool to not add this on. I am not a fool.

What did I think of it all? While not the largest lunch buffet I’ve seen in the metro, I will say everything on it was quite good. I particularly liked the rasam, the curd rice and the chicken kolambu. And while I had low expectations, I also enjoyed the dosa. My only complaint is that they didn’t have any containers set out for the rasam. I asked for one and they brought me out a plastic cup.

For a look at the current menu, the restaurant and the buffet, click on a picture below to launch the slideshow. Scroll down to see how much it cost and to see what’s coming next.

Price? With the dosa add-on, tax and tip, it came to $19 or so. The buffet by itself would have been about $15 or so, all-in. You might expect to see a few more items set out for that price but, again, everything that was set out was quite—which is not something I could say about most Indian restaurant lunch buffets. On the whole, I’d recommend.

If you’ve been recently to eat the more extensive weekend lunch, do write in below to describe it. I was told last week that on the weekend they were going to have a special lunch thali with crab etc. It sounded alluring but we were of course in too much of a post-Thanksgiving stupor on Saturday to go out to eat.

Alright, what’s coming next Tuesday? Possibly one of the reports I’ve been threatening on a Nepali restaurant. Let’s see.


 

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