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Sunday October 23, 2016
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Mahek has expanded the former Shehan Shah by breaking through a wall into the building next door. The new interior is sparkling and open, with black metal chairs and handsome iron lamps against a canvas of white tablecloths and walls accented with a few pieces of art-a framed crazy quilt, a photo of hennaed hands. Try for a seat in the main dining room, where the chairs are infinitely more comfortable.

Mahek seems to have instantly attracted more of a following than Shehan Shah, which was eerily empty both times I visited. Among those early enthusiasts is a contingent of fans from the Observer who come for the lunch buffet. Like all buffets, Mahek's spread has the advantage of visual choice and instant gratification. It offers enough options but doesn't go to excess, and the $7.95 price really does cover everything, even a drink and dessert.

On two visits, the buffet consisted of a tomato cream soup, a choice of several chicken dishes, and my own favorites: a dal makhani of tiny green lentils in a moderately spicy sauce, a chana masala of chickpeas in a classic curry sauce, and a lovely biryani of long-grain rice and vegetables. All withstood the rigors of the steam table well. For other dishes, timing was important. The day I arrived at 11:30, all the offerings were fresh and delicious. When I got there at half past one, the vegetable pakora had dried out, and the bread had seen better moments (I'd guess an hour or so earlier).

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