- Jim Leff
Rose Kim reported in Newsday that Kalustyan's (123 Lexington Ave., between 28th and 29th Streets) has expanded and added a much larger kitchen on the second floor.
Rose also reported that the ownders have bought a restaurant a block away, and intend to serve sit-down Indian food (kind of strange, seeing as how they're Armenian, but we shall see!).
Indeed Kalustyans has expanded and is now twice as fabulous. There's more cookware now, and a place to have a snack, but mostly it's just roomier and easier to shop in.
Regarding the Indian/Armenian issue, I don't know where I heard this but I do believe it's true. The wonderful white-haired gentleman who gives you fresh dates and tends the olives but whose name now escapes me is of Armenian extraction but from Lebanon (as was Kaluystan himself). However, the owners of the store are indeed Indian. So that explains why they would open up an Indian restaurant.
For anyone still reading this who has not visited Kalustyan's, do so immediately. It is a world-class shop selling more grains, legumes, spices and exotic condiments than you've probably ever seen. On Lexington between 28 and 29. It's also got very extensive hours, open 7 days a week.
re: Erica Marcus
The gentleman you speak of is Karneg Tasjian (I've probably misspelled his name), and he was an owner of an Armenian deli on 3rd Ave almost 20 years ago. He started a Middle Eastern food concession in Kalusyan's soon after his deli closed, and he's been there ever since.
Oddly, though the carryout area expanded somewhat when it moved upstairs, and a couple of window tables were added, the selection of steam table offerings is nearly the same as far as I can tell. Another thing that remains is the fact that you have to enter into a personal relationship with him when you make a purchase, very old-world and not very New York.
As Erica notes, its been owned by Indians for some years, however they still carry some armenian specialties, such as the lovely easter bread, sold all year round, cooked by an armenian lady in NJ.
Kalustyan's shop remains wonderful, but the takeout I had from the new upstairs was mediocre. Maybe I ordered the wrong thing? Vegie platter with felafel etc. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing especially right, either.
Again, the shopping is the best...dried fruit, my special fave, is out of this world...everything else is authentic, tasty, and as the Michelin guides say (but not about Kalustyan's, alas) worth the detour. Go!