Weekends have become a special time at Amma’s Kitchen on Reading Road in Roselawn. Why special? Because the Indian restaurant featuring a kosher, all-vegetarian menu is back in the buffet biz, sort of, from 11:30 am to 3 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
Explaining, Mr. Muthu, through Mr. Raju’s interpretation, said that the buffet line will be as it was before Covid-19 threw a monkey wrench into the works, at least in arrangement of items on the buffet steam table. The difference is that the buffet will be a cafeteria-style of service with a “wall” of separation between the patron and the food. Patrons will enjoy a buffet-style of servings, though.
What does all that mean, you ask? It means a hybrid form of service, combining the allure of a buffet, with the control of a cafeteria line. It means that you, the diner, will go through the buffet line alone, one-at-a-time, start to finish; you will indicate the items wanted from the buffet, which appetizingly sit behind the aforementioned Plexiglas™ wall; and you will specify the quantities wanted as well (a significant wrinkle in the cafeteria model, where items are carefully portioned and charged by the unit). So, that approach is the essence of a traditional buffet, but the difference is you will not be wielding the spoon—too risky, that. Scooping up your choices will be an Amma’s Kitchen server, who will pile it on to your wishes. You want lots of gobhi Manchurian along with a little of the rice dish, and maybe one healthy spoonful of paneer butter masala? Done: here you go, and on your way to a socially distanced table.
“We are doing this to offer the buffet to our customers and at the same time to be doing what will keep our customer safe (and what will adhere to Governor DeWine’s guidelines for service during the pandemic),” said Muthu. The GM at Amma’s Kitchen went on to say that the whole of the dining area is set up to fulfill the social distancing requirements of the health department in Hamilton County. Also, the tables and service areas of the restaurant are cleaned and sanitized to a higher than normal degree to assure that customers are safe when seated at tables in the eatery, he said.
For the Jewish community, return of the weekend buffet at Amma’s Kitchen is a plus, based on its former attraction. Jewish diners-out had developed a keen interest in the kosher vegetarian and vegan foods served at Amma’s Kitchen prior to March of this year. Jewish diners clearly were represented in the crowds we saw at lunch buffets there, usually making up the majority.
While the buffet is a weekends-only feature for now, Amma’s Kitchen has developed a weekday option that is like carrying out from a buffet offering. Pictured is the deep-welled “box” lunch now available at the eatery. “We are doing the box lunch with a set menu of items (in the compartments of the tray-like box), but if you want ten or more of the lunches we will do it with the food (items or entrée selections) you want to put in them,” he said.
The box lunch we enjoyed featured vegetable briyani as the main portion, which is a rice dish cooked with aromatic spices and vegetables, including peas, carrots, onions, potatoes, and red peppers. That rice dish is slow-burn spicy, but tolerable and tasty for a wimpy guy the likes of me, with my low spiciness meter. A little hotter, spice-wise is the gobhi Manchurian, which is fried cauliflower that is tossed in a homemade tomato-based Manchurian sauce. From former interviews of patrons at Amma’s Kitchen, I know this dish is a crowd-pleaser, and one of the most prized on former buffets. My favorite in the lunch box is the paneer butter masala, an entrée that features cottage cheese that is cooked in “a rich, creamy tomato gravy,” along with vegetables that include green beans, carrots and potatoes.
The box features a thin, soft bread, called chapathi, along with a potato puff, and lemon pickle. The bread is ideal for eating the masala and gobhi, acting as a scoop or tongs for eating the food by hand. In addition, we enjoyed some lentil soup, and a dosa masala or rice crisp, which is much like a crepe, but crispier.
See you at Amma’s Kitchen, for box lunches and buffets!
7633 Reading Road
Cincinnati, OH 45237