Eating like royalty at East India Grill’s lunch buffet

The buffet experience was well-missed during the pandemic.

Movie theaters, concerts, sporting events, handshakes and hugs — all of these are among the things many may have missed during the pandemic, and perhaps some wondered if they would be able to enjoy those comforts ever again.

Another one of those luxuries: the lunch buffet. It’s a simple and comforting amenity that allows you to eat just about as much of whatever you may want.

Many of us probably took it for granted during the restrictions of the pandemic that made us so afraid to even touch something like a serving spoon that others had dipped into a communal serving tray. It is funny to think that there was a time where participating in such an activity was to run the risk of contracting a potentially deadly illness.

However, I am here to tell you that I recently rolled the dice, so to speak, and ate at a local lunch buffet. It is a beloved Federal Way restaurant, and based on my own personal experience, it is safe and absolutely delicious.

I had heard that East India Grill on 31845 Gateway Center Blvd. S. was one of the area’s best restaurants for Indian food, and that they had a noteworthy lunch buffet at least before the pandemic.

It had been years since I had visited a buffet. I arrived and was led to a table where I awkwardly sat down and waited before someone had to tell me to go help myself at the buffet. I was rusty, but I guess “buffet-ing” is kind of like riding a bike — once you learn, you don’t forget.

One of the beautiful things about a buffet is that you get to try everything, at least everything that you want to, as I opted to skip the salad bar.

Everything in the East India Grill lunch buffet seemed fresh as the curries, stews and other goodies steamed invitingly. I opted for the vegetable pakoras — chickpea batter fritters deliciously fried to a crisp with assorted vegetables inside. They did well when I dipped them into the various sauces and stews I put on my plate, things like paneer cheese cubes steeped in a rich and creamy masala sauce, and lentils stewed into a puree-like consistency and seasoned in a perfectly savory way.

I thoroughly enjoyed the roasted zucchini and onions I tried in lieu of a salad. I found the garlic naan, which was perfectly crispy and fluffy, to be another good vessel for the leftover sauces on my plate.

My favorite dish however, was the tender tandoori chicken, marinated in a yogurt sauce before being baked in a clay tandoori oven. When finished, the chicken has this beautiful reddish pink color with flecks of green herbs that make it one of the prettiest chicken dishes I have ever seen.

For less than $20, the lunch buffet at East India Grill is a great way to try some Indian dishes you may have never had before and it is a great venue to enjoy a quiet lunch before inevitably taking a chicken tikka masala-induced nap.