wine + dine

All about food. All about Edmonton.

New Asian Village

A disappointing performance by the New Asian Village staff and chefs makes me wonder whether ‘fast’ Indian food has replaced authenticity of flavour for Edmonton patrons.

Despite what you may think upon browsing the rest of my blog, I’m not afraid to give a bad review. And here’s my first one, coming right atcha.

Generally, I can be quite easily satisfied with a restaurant, as long as the food is good and the service is reasonably attentive. Those are the fundamental basics for dining out; screw up those requirements and it’s almost as if you’re asking for a bad review.

The sad part is, I used to love New Asian Village. When it first opened up on Saskatchewan Drive, I was always itching to go there – it had some of the best Indian food I’d ever tasted. The atmosphere was thriving; the service was fantastic; and you finished your meal with a complimentary mango lassi.

Dining at the Manning Crossing location was nothing like I’d remembered it. At 6:30pm on a Wednesday evening, when the restaurant should have been packed, it was less than a quarter full. The mood was somber, and the server even more so. After leaving us at our table with the drink menu, he disappeared for 5-10 minutes and never bothered to bring us the a la carte menu, assuming that we’d want the buffet. The server finally arrived to take our drink order and, amidst our post-workout hunger pains, we just decided to head for the buffet.

One nota bene, before I rail on the restaurant too injudiciously – I remember from previous visits that the a la carte options were significantly better than the buffet, simply by virtue of being prepared as ordered, and for not having to sit on a hot plate for hours on end.

However, I don’t remember the buffet ever being this…bland. It had the usual options: steamed or saffron rice, a number of vegetarian dishes, butter chicken, tandoori chicken, a madras, naan bread, and poppadoms. We selected a bit of everything, including a mushroom do piyaza and a goat rogan josh. Most of the curries were mediocre, the goat rogan josh was horrible and consisted mostly of bones, and the butter chicken – while decent – wasn’t nearly as good as others I’ve had.

We might as well have gone to the mall and paid $7 for exactly the same thing – that would have been the gist of this $20 a head all-you-can-eat disaster. And the worst part is, what with naan bread and rice, you really can’t eat that much. Nor do you want to.

One other thing that really annoyed me: I like a little mood lighting, but it was too damn dark. Ambience is fine, but when you can’t tell whether you’re eating red or white meat, you need to light the place up a little bit.

With no complimentary mango lassi in sight, we decided to call it a day. The server never returned to check on us or drop off the bill, so we had to pay at the front as we left. This would be fine if a) the restaurant was stinking busy, or b) the rest of the dining experience had been a good one. Unfortunately, the restaurant was as dead as O-Ren, and I still had the taste of overcooked goat in my mouth.

Like I said, I’m sure a la carte would have been the better option. Judging by the number of tables in the restaurant and the percentage of people browsing the buffet, though, I have to wonder whether anyone actually orders from the menu anymore. That would explain the server’s apparent surprise that I wanted to look at it – apparently people tend to favour instant gratification as opposed to flavour when it comes to Indian food in Edmonton.

As sustenance, the New Asian Village buffet will do. It’ll fill you up, if that’s what you’re going for. Personally, I live to eat, rather than eat to live. I want my food to be memorable, with deliciously distinct flavours and aromas, rather than looking like something dished out over a mall counter. Particularly Indian food, which traditionally has such aromatic spices and explosions of flavour and zestiness.

For the sake of my past experiences, I would try this restaurant again. It deserves to be judged by its a la carte menu; although popular, a restaurant’s buffet can never be a clear indication of the quality of the food. If you have a craving for authentic Indian food, take a chance on a la carte. If you’re just looking to fill your guts, I’m guessing the buffet will suit you fine. You can always load up on butter chicken and naan bread…you’d fit right in with the handful of other diners skulking around the hot plates.

New Asian Village
320 Manning Crossing
Edmonton, AB
(780) 473-7777

New Asian Village on Urbanspoon


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