I’m a big fan of lunch. It’s one of my favorite three meals of the day. Yesterday I went with tangyslice and our CTO to a new to us place, Martsa on Elm for a Tibetan buffet. We weren’t sure what to expect but we were happy with what we got.
I’m not sure how authentic or representative the buffet selection was, but it was pretty chicken-heavy. On the first plate, I sampled the steamed bread, tofu with creamy spinach sauce, lemon curry chicken, and sauteed eggplant and vegetables.
The tofu was like a watery palak or saag paneer, but the lemon curry chicken was citrusy without the syrupy sweetness you sometimes get in chinese style lemon chicken. It had a nice curry flavor too. The eggplant was tender and a little smoky flavored.
About the steamed bread: it’s not for everybody. A bit like the dough in a cha siu bao, it’s, well, doughy. Not much in the way of flavor and you might feel a bit cheated at an all you can eat buffet if you eat a fist-sized blob of bread. But I love anything that I can use to mop up sauce.
On the second trip to the buffet, I decided to sample each of the other dishes and picked up chili chicken, mixed vegetables and “chicken n cabbage” I skipped the lentil soup and rice pudding dessert.
The chili chicken was nicely spicy with some kind of cornstarch coating and a selection of crisp bell peppers and onions. The vegetables were carrot-heavy and not overdone, always a plus especially on a buffet. The third chicken, with cabbage, was pretty much as advertised: chicken with cabbage.
I’m not sure how often we’ll return, but Martsa is a welcome addition to the run of Davis square lunch options, giving us a little more variety and diversity. Vegetarians are well-served but not as well as chicken-lovers.
Kudos also for Martsa’s smart decor and quiet vibe. Love the lampshades.
Sounds great! I guess I had a false notion that Tibetian food is vegetarian. I’ll have to check this out.
No, it’s pretty non-veg in part b/c they haven’t many vegetables there. (Even the Buddhist Monks often eat meat if I remember correctly) That said, it tastes like Indian food or Chinese food, and I haven’t found that many dishes which were fusion-y in the middle. I’ve never liked it as much as I wanted to, and my Tibetan acquaintances all actually eat Indian at home (since they were born in India) and didn’t have a recommendation for an excellent Tibetan restaurant.
Indeed, I’m not sure how authentic this stuff is, but I’d rather have fresher New England ingredients prepared in a Tibetan manner than overpriced and high-food-mile imported stuff on a humble lunch buffet. I was definitely expecting more lamb or (mountain?) goat than chicken. Maybe I’ll try dinner there sometime.
The chili chicken was a 4 on the Tangy scale. It reminded me of a less breaded and more spicy General Tsao’s chicken.
I love Martsa on elm, it is also a great place for vegetarians. Their mango tofu dish is amazing. After the renovation, the ambiance is quite cute. Thanks for the great post!
I thought this place was a waste of money. All the food tastes like the same Chinese takeout, but entrees are $13-$15. Especially do not try the butter tea–it literally tastes like salty melted butter