Aman Singh (BS ‘12) and his brother Ajay Singh are bringing the spices and flavors of the streets of India to Buffalo in their new restaurant, Naan-Tastic. The brothers’ second venture opened on Niagara Falls Boulevard in early 2019. Their unique, Western take on the dishes they learned to cook from their parents have revolutionized Indian cuisine as we know it.
“My brother and I grew up in the restaurant business.” Aman says. “My dad has a traditional Indian restaurant. We traveled a lot, my brother and I, but we just never could find a place to get something quick that was healthy and also Indian.”
Rather than open another traditional sit-down restaurant like their parents, the brothers wanted to serve the food counter-style, similar to Chipotle. That way, customers can choose if they want a bowl, salad, or naan wrap, and customize their meal to be gluten free, vegetarian, ketogenic, or whatever dietary restrictions they follow.
It was there they found a missing market for ethnic food that is fast and healthy.
Aman and Ajay emigrated from India with their parents when they were 5 and 7 years old, respectively. The family eventually settled in Rochester, New York, where their parents opened a restaurant, Thali of India.
Growing up, Aman and Ajay learned how to cook and run the restaurant, but Aman says it was never his dream to open his own one day. He came to UB to pursue a degree in business administration and finance, and he was hired at Dell after graduating.
His brother, who was then working as an occupational therapist, felt the same way.
“I just hated sitting in the cube and doing the same stuff over and over,” he says. “We realized we like the restaurant better. Coming up with recipes and moving around,” Aman says.
Due to the success of their first restaurant in Rochester, the two opened a second location in Buffalo.
“At this point, it’s like a dream job. We love what we do,” Aman says.
Aman likes to think that while Indian food can be intimidating to Western customers, the way Naan-Tastic presents it makes it simple for those unfamiliar with Indian spices and ingredients.
“They can pick out exactly what they want in their meal and our servers are there to walk them through and explain the options,” he says.
Aman says that though they present the food in a Western style, the flavors and spices are all authentic. Growing up in the U.S., Aman says that he and his brother were the only Indian kids in their school, bringing their parents’ dishes for lunch. In coming to UB, Aman found a diverse an open community.
“Even the city [of Buffalo] itself, people are more open to trying different things,” Aman says. “We opened our first restaurant in Rochester because that’s where we’re from, but we knew that next we had to do Buffalo.”
He made lifelong friends in Buffalo, and also met his future wife, Jessica, in a UB math class. All reasons for Aman to call Buffalo his second home.
In opening a second Naan-Tastic location in Buffalo, Aman was able to rejoin the UB community through the food they serve. For Indian students at UB, Naan-Tastic restaurant provides a taste of the home they might miss.
“We hear all the time from Indian students at UB that the food tastes just like home,” Aman says. “And they tell us, that they had something like this either on a certain street in India or that their mom made it, or they had it in a certain you know—it's just all the different stories you hear from customers that are nice to hear.”
Published June 27, 2019