Arriving hungry the evening before an alumni meeting, I went with my wife for dinner. We were fortunate to choose “Zaika Indian Cuisine & Bar” at Niagara Falls, NY. This was an Indian Restaurant, and I happen to be Indian. To list the main pros & cons: The clientele was 95% South Asian in appearance. On arriving and on leaving, we noticed people waiting to get in. The clientele included a fair number of women in Hijabs, but the well stocked bar included several single-malt scotches!! I hope I have communicated the universal nature of this place’s appeal. The staff from the manager on down was friendly, even while running around continuously. (Not surprisingly given the pressure, the service was OK, but less than perfect). They had an evening buffet, which we opted to try. ( I have noticed that choosing from a menu when an Indian restaurant has a buffet is an invitation to very long waiting times). The buffet had a reasonable assortment of vegetarian and non-vegetarian items (Two types of paneer, chickpeas, a potato-vegetable medley, some salad stuff, tandoori chicken, a chicken curry . I may have missed some) for the princely sum of around $14.00. Fresh Naans are brought to the table. Some gravy dishes were swimming in oil, unfortunately a common trait in Indian restaurants. However, everything was tasty, and some packed a considerable punch, which I enjoyed, but could bother some people. Again, I have noticed that Indian restaurants in the U.S. start well, but have a tendency to “dumb down” their spices and cater to their clients in order to stay in business. Not so these stalwarts! For me, the highlight was none of the things I have described, but several signs posted around the buffet emphasizing the restaurant’s policy. In different words, three separate notices asked that their clients taste-test their food before heaping their plates and to return repeatedly rather than waste food.
Many people bemoan the deplorable amounts of food wasted in the US of A, but this is the first time I have found a proprietor risking his establishment for the principle of stopping waste. One notice announced that a 20% surcharge would be imposed for excessive waste. Three cheers for this brave soul, may his cooking live long and prosper
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