Narayanni’s is a little off the beaten path. Just past the tracks on Whyte Ave and a block south, you’ll discover a restaurant that specializes in South African-Indian cuisine. Just look for the random white building with blue lettering. This is homemade, buffet style food so bring your appetite.
They are only open in the evenings with a different price range depending on the day. We came on a Wednesday and the place was decently busy. Looks like they just bumped up their prices in April ($5.00 increase). Bummer.
$20.00 (Tuesday vegan nights, cash only)
$25.00 (Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday)
$30.00 (Friday and Saturday)
The interior is elegant with a casual, warm ambiance to it. I really like the round circular buffet. We came on cheap wine night ($20.00 for all bottles) which half of our table took advantage of. The wine list is very reasonable as all bottles fall in the $30.00 to $35.00 price range. Don’t think you can go wrong with a $20.00 bottle ever…
The Naidoo family running Narayanni’s are very friendly and take great pride in offering fresh, flavourful and healthy food without the heavy, creaminess that you normally associated with buffet food. This is what I like best about them.
Garden vegetable soup – loaded with a variety of vegetables (cauliflower, brussel sprouts, etc.), the soup was light but had a nice depth to it that you normally don’t get with veggie soup.
White basmati rice – standard basmati rice. Rice is an important part to a meal (at least to me!). This felt like an afterthought. A fragrant, aromatic rice would have been nice to have or at least have two options.
Roti – these come to you at the beginning of your meal and were thick and dense. I only ate half a portion as it didn’t add much to the meal. I’d save stomach room for other things.
Papadum – lentil crisps. I didn’t have any but papadums are always a good starter and great with the dipping sauces (mint chutney and sweet mango chutney). The sweet mango chutney had the best of both worlds. Spicy and sweet.
Traditional wedding salad
Three different salads to choose from. Yessssssssssss. I remember these being delicious the first time I ate at Narayanni’s and tonight was no different. So healthy and flavourful, what more can you ask for? The wedding salad is a somewhat spicy take on cabbage slaw but way, way better. Reminds me of the Way Out’s song. Oh, childhood.
Greek salad – the greek salad was excellent with nice chunks of colourful vegetables and some good quality feta to round things out.
Quinoa salad – clearly, I don’t eat enough quinoa but I should. The quinoa salad was light and had a nice cooling effect on the tongue. Perfect to mix in between bites if you can’t handle some of the spicier dishes.
Chana dahl & eggplant and butternut squash – the eggplant was boooomb. I’m a sucker for eggplant and this was done perfectly. Flavourful and tender, I went back for seconds. The butternut squash was sweet and perfectly cooked.
Tofu & okra curry and green beans – the green beans were mediocre. A little too dry and lacked a texture element to it. The tofu and okra curry was delicious. I love okra and when it’s done right, it sure is tasty.
Braised masala mushroom and wild salmon & poached egg curry – the masala mushrooms were decent but nothing popped out flavour wise. The wild salmon and poached egg curry were goooood. Flaky, tender salmon.
Chicken curry – I was a bit disappointed that there were two types of chicken. It would have been nice to have another protein to give the buffet more variety. However, the cubes of chicken were good although a few pieces were slightly on the dry side.
Grilled masala chicken – the masala chicken surprised me by how tender it was. Juicy and succulent inside, crispy skin outside.
Chocolate mint torte, chocolate torte and vanilla cream cupcakes – I tried a cupcake which had a nice cream frosting to it but the cupcake itself was a little too dry for my taste buds. My fellow diners tried the other two desserts and found the same issue.
The food is light, fresh and you will be stuffed silly by the end of your meal. The $25.00 weekday price is a bit on the steep side (the pre-hiked price of $20.00 is much more reasonable for a Wednesday dinner). I’m not a buffet buff these days but if you want something unique and a step above other Indian buffets in town, definitely check out Narayanni’s.
10131 – 81 Ave