Zafraan Hyderabadi Indian Restaurant – South Forsyth

Every Friday, Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series I like to call Foodie Friday.

File this review under “taking one for the team.” I was flying blind going into Zafraan for lunch this week. I knew this place had opened just from driving by, however there is absolutely nothing written about them at this point. Urbanspoon? Yelp? City Search? Nada. Sure, they have a website… two actually with slightly different spellings of the name (www.zafraan.us and www.zaffraan.com). As of right now both sites have nothing but a logo. To make matters worse, their address (on a side street of 141) makes finding them tough.

But the good little food grubber in me had to try this place. I nearly turned around when I noticed no one in the parking lot yet still proceeded in with a lot of trepidation. Inside you’ll find a no-frills restaurant. Absent is the buffet line, something I’m accustomed to seeing at Indian restaurants for lunch. Also gone is any sort of decor, save one television playing Bollywood music videos.

I got practically no welcome from the staff as I approached the counter to order. Friendly and inviting? Not here. I was handed a menu to look through and recognized a few familiar dishes. I ended up putting it down when I discovered a specials board. They have three lunch specials descriptively named … chicken lunch, veg lunch and mutton lunch. One of these was removed from contention immediately (can you guess?). I settled on the chicken lunch and paid my $9.

The lunch specials come out on a tray holding an array of paper plates. The first thing that catches your attention is an enormous piece of buttered naan. It was a little more crispy than I’m used to but it was still amazing. Fresh hot naan is something most Indian buffets don’t do well.

Also on the special is a big portion of biryani rice. I couldn’t come close to finishing it all. Next to it was a chicken dish that came fried. I don’t recall the name, perhaps it was chicken 65. I found it to be greasy. The rest of the tray was various appetizers and other unidentifiable gooey stuff that my unsophisticated Indian palate couldn’t make sense of. A lot of it served as a delicious dip for pieces of buttered naan. Very good stuff.

I could identify dessert. It was a single gulab jamun swimming in syrup. I wasn’t impressed with the texture of this dish, which is by far my favorite Indian sweet. But overall lunch at Zafraan exceeded my expectations. The portions were huge and the flavors and spice powerful.

It’s clear that Zafraan isn’t targeting the lunch cubicle crowd. I’m guessing their modus operandi is to serve the growing Indian community and spread by word of mouth. If you’re looking for a authentic Indian experience and don’t expect frills or friendly service, Zafraan is your place.

2 Responses to “Zafraan Hyderabadi Indian Restaurant – South Forsyth”

  1. claudie May 3, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    Went here on a whim with hubby for dinner when it first opened as we live just down the road. Not impressed at all. When I go out to eat, I want to be acknowledged and thanked for my business. There are plenty of really good Indian places around, even coming into South Forsyth. Friendliest has to be Bukhara in the Kroger shopping center on 141 at McGinnis Ferry. IF I spend money in your establishment, I want to be greeted and thanked, at a minimum. Won’t be going back to Zafran.

  2. Mari July 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    I really love Indian food but this place makes it difficult to be here. I’ve been twice and had the chicken lunch both times, goat and vegetarian being the only other options. The bored counterperson was sullen. I gave him my order and 30 minutes later he actually summoned me by a bell to pick it up. I was the only customer in the place. I motioned for him to bring it to me and he did, without any utensils or napkins. The water machine leaked and there was no ice. The disinterested counter guy had to turn the water off then back on for my repeated trips to fill the small foam cup. He brought something of a “dessert” that tasted like soggy bread soaked in something sweet – bleh. The Raita, normally plain yogurt prepared with chopped onion, tomato and cilantro, was a thin watery salted mess with a few pieces of grated carrots drowning in the bottom. There was a tiny portion of some sweet sauce and a larger portion of sauce that was beige and tasteless. The Naan had been sliced in half, then grilled resulting in a dry, crispy, chip. The biriyani was ok, and the pile disguised a chicken leg buried underneath. In addition there was a garbanzo/lentil dal with a repsectable amount of curry leaves, spicy red fried chicken chunks and a chunky chicken curry with an ok sauce. Then the owner showed up and parked his mini-van on the side of the building right in front of my table which obliterated my view, the only “ambience” this place had. I looked down and saw a roach crawling along the filthy floor like it knew where it was going. I knew where I was going also, and walked out the door. There is no inspection grade posted so I assume it hasn’t been inspected yet. It needs to be.

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