Don't Goa to Goa
- Harry Krishna
Following a recommendation in this week's Time Out New York, we tried Goa, one of the newest arrivals on the strip of Indian and Pakistani restos on E. 6 between 1st and 2nd Aves. Boy, were we sorry.
The food was decent, though not at all Goan. The house speciality, in fact, is tandoori. The only thing remotely Goan is an emphasis on seafood.
But what truly sucks about this place is the slow, inept service. The cocktail waitress came to take our drinks. They have a nice selection of beers on tap, so we ordered one. "Oh," said the waitress, "we don't have that tonight." We tried to order another on the list. "Um, we don't have any tap beers tonight. The taps went out." Why didn't she tell us?
A small thing, until we had the exact same experience with our food waiter. Three-quarters of the dishes we wanted to order, they were just out of. Why don't you just tell us what you *don't* have tonight, we asked. "Oh, it's hardly anything," she replied, and then proceeded to rattle off a half-dozen dishes.
It gets worse. The first course -- a crab soup -- took a good 25 minutes to arrive. It was good, but we were getting pissed off by then. Dinner came another 20 minutes after they cleared the soup. But where's the bread? "Coming." Another 20 minutes. We ordered spiced tea after -- guess what? ANother 20 minutes. "We just made it fresh." The check had a mistake on it -- time to get it fixed -- 15 minutes.
What should have been a relatively quick dinner took us over 2 hours. When we complained to the waiters and the manager, they smiled and said, "We know." But what did they do about it. Zip.
Bottom line: Don't Goa.
re: Time Out Lies
I, too, had a crapola meal there. when i asked the clueless but unctuous waiter which dishes were from Goa (there are one or two), he didn't know what Goa was. The real message of this place is that the food is more than two to three times the price of traditional places on the strip, while the food is no better -- like its sibling Brick Lane Curry House.
Actually -- make that PORK Vendaloo. According to Julie Sahni's "Classic Indian Cooking," Goa is about the only place in all of India where pork is eaten, in this case by Portuguese Christians.
Other Goan dishes, acc. to Madhur Jaffrey's "Indian Cooking," include: Beef Roulade, a stuffed roll of beef cooked in garlic-flavored olive oil; a dessert of layered pancakes called Bibingka; vinegared eggs, known as Baida vindaloo; Mussels cooked with garlic and green chilies; and wood-roasted mackeral. None of these are available at Goa in the East Village.
Hey, i'm new here. Just signed on today actually, n was reading through this thread. Being a fan of ANY kind of food and being from Goa, i really wanna set the record straight on a few things here.
Oh, and i apologize in advance if i come off rude.
@ Walter: Hey, No offence, but its Goan. Not GoanESE. Goans tend to be a bit snippy about that... :)
@Snakdogg:Harry's got it right man. Pork Vindalho. BTW, thats how its spelt, though it is pronounced Vindaloo. Pork has its own unique flavour that lamb wouldn't be able to give you.
@Harry (Hari?) Krishna: Madhur Jaffrey doesn't know D**K about Goan food. I'd like to say she doesn't know D**K about food altogether, but I'll be kind. I really wouldnt rely on her opinion of Goan food. She's just a washed up actress holding forth on a subject she barely knows, simply capitalizing on the western hemisphere's ignorance of Indian cuisine.
Beef Roulade (also known colloquially as beef olives) is a strip of tenderized beef, rolled together with bacon, generally around a bit of carrot, and stewed in a spicy gravy.
Bibinca, also known as Bibik, but never as Bibingka, is a layered dessert, though not so much as a stack of pancakes but a sort of layered cake. Its prepared by ladling small quantities of a batter made of flour, coconut milk and nutmeg, into a searing hot, deep pan in a constantly heated oven, waiting until the first layer caramelizes before adding the next layer on top of the first.
Baida Vindalho doesn't exist. it is just a creation of vegetarians who wont eat meat, but are apparently fine with eggs. Prepared only as a tourist trap, if at all. Not a dish you'd find at any self respecting restaurant in Goa.
Xinaneo: These are mussels, the 'X' being pronounced as 'sh'. Generally prepared by dredging them through a spicy marinade, dusting with semolina(called rawa here) and shallow fried. Very popular here.
Mackeral: NOBODY wood roasts mackeral in Goa. It is either prepared identical to the mussels above or with a special extremely spicy paste called Recheiado. when prepared with recheiado, the back of the mackeral is split open along either side of the bone and the resulting cavity is stuffed with the paste and the fish is then covered in the paste from the outside as well and shallow fried till the skin is blackened by the caramelization of the sugar and tamarind in the paste. Generally eaten by itself without any accompaniment.
The closest thing i can think of to wood roasting would be the wrapping of a mackeral in a banana leaf with just salt and minced green chillies(peppers) and the wrappedfish is then tossed into an open fire. Only seen it at Barbeque campouts as an appetizer though.
Fejoiada: is actually made with red kidney beans(rajma) and Chorice. Chorice, Goan sausages are a superb spicier variant to the spanish, italian and portuguese Chorizo. the sausages are split open to allow the chopped meat to stew with the beans resulting in a spectacular gravy, that is generally considered food for a special occasion. :)
Sorpotel: looks very similar to fejoiada, but is not. One of the best things i have ever tasted, it is a gravy made with the pork chopped really tiny, and without the beans. The most authentic sorpotel uses every single part of the pig from th liver to tripe, to the kidneys, everything, even the ears and the blood! Despite the gross sounding ingredients its is a fantastically flavourful dish, eaten with pulao(rice cooked with turmeric and bayleaves among other mild spices), and sannas. The most attractive part of sorpotel that appeals to goans is the fact that it can be made in bulk and the flavour gets more intense as it matures. HAS to be kept refrigerated though.
Sannas are not exactly fermented rice dumplings. That description tends to imply rice dumplings that fermented. A sanna is more of a steamed rice cake. The sour-ish flavour comes from the use of toddy in the batter. Excellent accompaniment to strongly flavoured goan meat dishes.
Fisl Moli/Molee: is in fact as you described it, fish in a coconut gravy. However keeping in mind that almost all curries on the indian west coast tend to have a coconut base, especially the fish curries, the distinguishing factor for Molee is a greenish yellow color to the gravy, and is more associated with Malayali cuisine(Kerala). The goan traditional fish curry is orange with a spicy coconut base again. The Goan green fish curry is called Caidinha and is quite similar to the malayali molee though milder.
The Conjee and oyster pie i'm ignorant about so i'll shut my trap here, but i hope you guys manage to find some real goan restaurants there and the info above should ensure you guys dont get conned by posers.
The Restaurant in question here seems to be just another two bit road side restaurant(which is very popular here in Goa) that, like Madhur Jaffrey, is just taking advantage of the ignorance of indian/goan cuisine.
P.S.@ Hannover: Sorry man, you've been had. Chilli Chicken is not a goan dish. Its not even an indian dish. Its what is referred to as Indian-Chinese, a corruption of Chinese cooking to suit the Indian palate which as a result of being brought up on a staple of spicy food tends to find most other milder cuisines extremely bland. The closest thing to that in Goan Cuisine is Beef Chilly Fry, which isnt too spicy, so do give it a try if you ever find it.
I agree - thanks for the info! My parents-in-law are Indian, and while they're from Mumbai, my mother-in-law spent a lot of time growing up with her grandmother, who lived near Goa. So I'm always interested in foods from that area, and southern Indian food in general.
We'll be in New York next month, and looking forward to lots of great Indian food. I've been checking out Chowhound, as well as nyindia.us, which seems to more knowledgeable, but also seems like every review is negative!
I'd appreciate any southern indian restaurant recs you could make (and I love pongal, if you can point to any good place for pongal).
I'm based in London, where we are told that there is no good Indian food in NYC. But recently, in the Guardian, this was included in a list of 'top ten hidden dining gems in NYC':
'Roughly a 15-minute walk from the last stop on the no 7 train sits the Hindi Temple Society of North America. It's a real working temple, with a fabulous canteen in the basement and an affordable cafeteria, both open to the public. They serve authentic, cheap, wonderful South Indian fare like giant dosas, sambars, and samosas, and a hearty full lunch for $7 on Sundays. Of course the decor isn't anything special, reminiscent of your high school cafeteria, folding chairs and all. But that hardly matters given the food on the plate and the money left in your wallet.'
• 14309 Holly Avenue, Flushing, +1 718 460 2500, nyganeshtemple.org