There’s a newcomer to the Richardson Heights Shopping Center. Vegvana is a vegetarian and vegan Indian restaurant that serves a lunch buffet and regular menu in the evenings. It takes the place of Udipi Café, a vegetarian Indian chain based out of Houston.
Karthik Gunasekaran opened Vegvana in February with the goal of building on the Udipi concept. Whereas Udipi only offered about 10 items on its buffet, Gunasekaran aims to have 20-30 options every day.
Gunasekaran is also focused on freshness. Produce is purchased every morning, and everything is prepared on the same day that it’s served. Vegvana serves both north and south Indian food.
The $9.99 lunch buffet is served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and noon to 3 p.m. weekends, but the restaurant is closed every Tuesday. The day we visited, there were 20 items on the buffet. The name of each dish is handwritten above it, and vegan items are noted as such.
To start, there were two soups: sweet corn and rasam, a tomato-based soup. Next to the soups were the fried dishes — baby corn bajji, baby corn fritters, tindura 65, spicy fried ivy gourds, bindi fry, stir-fried okra. Other items on the buffet included dal tadka — yellow lentils sautéed with onions, tomatoes and spices — paneer butter masala and a chickpea salad.
There were a few starches on the buffet, including vegetable biryani rice; steamed rice; idli, fluffy, domed rice cakes; and rava kichadi, roasted grains sautéed with vegetables and spices. For dessert, there were gulab jamun, sticky sweet fried dough balls, and payasam, a type of rice pudding.
After sitting down, a server quickly came by with water and offered dosa, a choice of masala dosa or plain. We were also offered naan. Someone came by to check on our table a couple of times throughout our meal; service was kind and conscientious.
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Ambiance is more of an afterthought at Vegvana. Inside, it is clean and orderly, but lacks personality. Four rows of tables line the stark space, with the buffet at the back of the restaurant.
If you visit in the evening, Vegvana’s regular menu is extensive. It offers an impressive variety of soups, appetizers, dosa, tandoori plates, curries, rice pots, breads, chaat and desserts. There's even have a kid’s menu, with items like cheese dosa and pizza dosa.
For the assortment and quality of fresh options, Vegvana’s lunch buffet is well worth the $9.99 price tag.
Vegvana, 100 Central Expressway, Richardson