White Tiger’s buffet growls — and purrs

Similar to a Chinese restaurant’s lunch special, White Tiger Restaurant offers more than a fair share of food for your money. The price — $9.99 — nets you access to a buffet featuring classic Indian fare and innovative creations rooted in the Bengal tradition.

White Tiger’s buffet (11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sun.-Fri.) and location at 301 Massachusetts Ave. NE, a short walk from the Hart Senate Office Building and Union Station, make it ideal for Senate staffers looking for a quick lunch or longer affair. Outdoor tables sit interspersed among trees, while inside the lights are kept low and a continuous stream of Indian music plays softly throughout the dining area.

The buffet is set up in a cozy nook in the back of the restaurant. Chickpeas and salad are available for a first course, a large bowl of rice precedes the meat and vegetarian main dishes, and there is even a dessert option.

The buffet’s most interesting dish, small beef meatballs served in a creamy curry sauce called korma, provides an interesting kick without the overwhelming spiciness that penetrates some of the buffet’s other options. The best vegetarian serving, squash and lentils, sports rich flavor and the lentils are perfectly cooked.

But the buffet falters where it should excel — namely, with the distinctly Indian dishes. The Tandoori chicken is served on the bone, making it hard to cut and sometimes tough to eat. The Chicken Tikka Masala (a spices and tomato-based sauce) is served in a large bowl, making it nearly impossible to reach the chicken.

While White Tiger features an extensive regular menu, the buffet simplifies your choices to a manageable seven or eight items. But if you don’t like what White Tiger has to offer on your first visit, don’t worry. Except for one or two holdovers, the buffet menu changes daily.