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East Village Indian Myth?

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lalagirl Aug 5, 2004 03:32 PM

Are the rumors true that all those Indian restaurants on 6th street between 1st and 2nd avenues share one central kitchen?

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  1. n
    Nathan RE: lalagirl Aug 5, 2004 04:20 PM

    the rumors are not true...but they all do have similar menus and similar crappy food...there's a reason why you never actually see anyone Indian eating down there.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Nathan
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      lalagirl RE: Nathan Aug 5, 2004 04:21 PM

      Can anyone recommend some place better in the east village, NOT part of that strip?

      1. re: lalagirl
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        Nathan RE: lalagirl Aug 5, 2004 04:23 PM

        go up 15 blocks to Curry Hill....lots of options.

        1. re: Nathan
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          a320 RE: Nathan Aug 5, 2004 04:58 PM

          Pongol, Chennai Garden, Roomali, and Haandi are all very good in Curry Hill. Chinese Mirch and Kalustyan's Masala Cafe have recently received very good reviews...again in Curry Hill.

        2. re: lalagirl
          Non Cognomina RE: lalagirl Feb 25, 2007 06:55 PM

          I like Brick Lane, which is Indian food like you find in London.

          1. re: Non Cognomina
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            delfina RE: Non Cognomina May 2, 2007 08:13 AM

            I went to Brick Lane with two other friends from London, where I also come from. Unfortunately we were all disappointed, the food was under-spiced, took an hour to get to our table and was a little overpriced!! They are using the name in vain!!

      2. l
        Laren RE: lalagirl Aug 5, 2004 05:54 PM

        Haveli on second ave, although nearby, is a cut above the 6th St masses.

        1. s
          sing me a bar RE: lalagirl Aug 6, 2004 02:00 PM

          I asked this awhile back and was assured it was apocryphal, but, I wonder.....

          1. b
            blowthisclambake RE: lalagirl Feb 18, 2007 10:39 AM

            Banjara on the corner of 1st Ave. and 6th Street stands out at the BEST place. It is clean and GREAT food. It is a little pricier than the other places in the area, but VERY worth it. You get what you pay for. Theya re friendly and have a full bar. Varry attentive. Try the Dumphakt!!! It is amazing. It is a creamy sauced dish with a bread skin baked over it. Also, ALL their dishes are tasty! Try it and you'll see! I love it and bring people from outta town there all the time.

            1. t
              tsiblis RE: lalagirl Feb 18, 2007 01:55 PM

              What about Angon? Is it better than the others on 6th St.?

              6 Replies
              1. re: tsiblis
                fat parish RE: tsiblis Feb 18, 2007 04:07 PM

                Love Angon. Read abt it here and checked it out. Have been back 2 or 3 times and brought friends. Everyone agreed the food is fresher and no comparison to the slop you'd expect to find on 6th. The room is also a little nicer than the rest.

                1. re: tsiblis
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                  Pan RE: tsiblis Feb 21, 2007 06:14 PM

                  Based on my last trip, no. It used to be, when Mina was there and for a few months after she left.

                  1. re: tsiblis
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                    coriander RE: tsiblis Feb 21, 2007 06:26 PM

                    A couple of years ago, when we were visiting NYC, we ate at Angon. It was easily the best Indian meal I've had outside of India (and I'm an Indian living in the SF Bay Area). As an added bonus, the people occupying the table next to us were Salman Rushdie and his wife Padma Lakshmi, the host of Bravo's Top Chef!

                    1. re: coriander
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                      Pan RE: coriander Feb 21, 2007 07:33 PM

                      A couple of years ago, Mina was at Angon. It was a different restaurant than it is now.

                      1. re: Pan
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                        coriander RE: Pan Feb 21, 2007 08:30 PM

                        Was she the very nice Bangladeshi woman who ran the kitchen? She came out a few times to talk to patrons. And I thought it remarkable that she made us feel no less special than the Rushdies, even though she clearly knew who they were. (Well... she was a bit more flustered to see them than she was us, but she was just as nice to everyone.) I heard she used to run a place in Queens. Is that still around?

                        1. re: coriander
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                          Pan RE: coriander Feb 22, 2007 08:49 PM

                          She has a new place now, Spicy Mina's. I haven't been to it, but there's plenty of discussion you can check out on the Outer Boroughs board.

                  2. HeatherFL RE: lalagirl Feb 19, 2007 07:58 AM

                    Don't know about that myth, but just wanted to share...The only real (authentic) Indian restaurant I know of in NYC is chef Suvir Saran's Dévi . This is REAL Indian food. I went to one of his cooking classes and he explained why he opened an Indian restaurant in the U.S.. This was because he was ashamed of what people were passing off as Indian food. For instance, curry is not Indian, it's British. It was quite an educational experience regarding Indian cuisine around the world. The meal he made that night was superb. It's located on East 18th Street.
                    link: http://www.devinyc.com/

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: HeatherFL
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                      Flynn1 RE: HeatherFL Feb 20, 2007 10:42 AM

                      Not exactly true about curry not being Indian but British. See Wikipedia for more details. I'm kind of surprised that Suvir Saran made such a broad statement.

                      The concept of curry was brought to the West by British colonialists in India from the 18th century.
                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curry

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curry#Br...

                      1. re: HeatherFL
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                        rds246 RE: HeatherFL Feb 20, 2007 03:14 PM

                        my understanding of the matter is that the British, overwhelmed by the diversity of tastes in India, just called most things "curry," which has basically come to mean a gravy dish that can be served over rice. That doesn't mean the food wasn't Indian to begin with, just that the category of curry is not especially descriptive or helpful in distinguishing regional cuisines.

                        1. re: HeatherFL
                          oonth RE: HeatherFL Feb 21, 2007 03:14 PM

                          Wow, I would be careful about using words like authentic and real. I'm sure that the food at Devi is delicious (and I'm looking forward to trying it at some point) but as someone who grew up on Punjabi and other regional Indian foods I doubt that I'm going to find it authentic in the sense of it reminding me of the home-cooked Indian foods I've been lucky enough to enjoy over the years in the UK and India.

                          Not that I particularly care for authenticity (flavour is my main metric) but I would suggest a trilogy of tests for gauging the authenticity of your average Indian restaurant menu - what % of the menu is given over to vegetarian preparations (the higher the better, non-muslim India is still predominantly vegetarian after all)?, how much snacky/street style food is on the menu (Indians love snacking and grazing)? and how extensive is the range of pickles/condiments/chutneys/achars etc? (Indians love all of these to accompany their meals)

                          Will aim to try Devi over the next few days and will report back.

                          1. re: oonth
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                            Pan RE: oonth Feb 21, 2007 06:20 PM

                            "Wow, I would be careful about using words like authentic and real."

                            Yeah. Or claiming that only one place merits that description. Are all the dosa houses highly inauthentic and unreal? I personally know the chef/owner of Madras Cafe in the East Village from long-time patronage of his restaurant, and I know he's from Madras - authentic and real. Sure, the dosas and utthapams he serves are not as spicy as he'd cook them for himself (and lately, not spicy at all if you don't request spiciness), but you do have to know your clientele in order to stay in business. And he'll make them spicier for you if you ask for a lot of little green chillies in your order.

                            1. re: Pan
                              oonth RE: Pan Feb 21, 2007 07:51 PM

                              Agreed. Have never been to Madras Cafe but sounds like it's worth a visit. I was impressed with the South Indian food at Saravanaas in Murray Hill and theirs was largely a Tamil clientele, always a good sign. I was thinking about adding a fourth limb to the so-called authenticity test namely spiciness but I know enough Indians (my father included) who favour their food less, rather than more, spicy. Not South Indians mind who tend to like it fiery to say the least!

                              By the way, I am reliably informed that the best Indian cuisine in the tri-state
                              area is to be found in NJ, must do my homework and then schlep over there.

                              1. re: oonth
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                                Pan RE: oonth Feb 22, 2007 08:53 PM

                                Too much of a schlep for me just for the food, but I used to have a girlfriend in Edison about 11 years ago, and we really enjoyed a dosa house in Edison. Don't remember the name or precise location, but it's so long ago, it doesn't matter. What was interesting was that we were usually the only non-Indians there. I'm sure there's plenty more of that now, and I've glanced upon discussions in the Tristate board (or whatever it's called).

                                I really want to try Saravanaas and hope that they give me spiciness without my making a special request. It doesn't have to blow the roof off my mouth, but some robust hot pepper taste and bite would be most welcome.

                                1. re: Pan
                                  spchang RE: Pan Feb 23, 2007 12:36 PM

                                  Get the uthappam with chilies and ask for it hot and it will be reasonably spicy. The sambhar and chutneys are presumably at a set spiciness level and are enjoyably hot.

                              2. re: Pan
                                Ike RE: Pan Feb 25, 2007 05:12 PM

                                I second Pan's recommendation of Madras Cafe. I took a large group to Madras Cafe several months ago and it was excellent, although the service was slow and sometimes inattentive. The food was so good (and spicy... yum!) and we were so engrossed in our conversations that the service basically didn't matter to us. Among the things we ordered were possibly the best dosas I've ever had (not that I've had a ton of dosas admittedly). Overall, much better than any other Indian food I've had in the E. Village (although Banjara is good, and Angon was good when Mina was there).

                                I think I might take another group there soon.

                          2. m
                            marlie202 RE: lalagirl Feb 19, 2007 09:51 AM

                            I have eaten at Panna and Mitali East and have enjoyed both of them--but when I was in London--I ate Indian food there that was quite different than here--what can be the difference??

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                              nativeNYer RE: lalagirl Feb 19, 2007 10:33 AM

                              i love mitali east, in comparison to restaurants i tasted in curry hill as well as throughout the city. however, since i have never been to india, perhaps i do not know better. i still think earthen oven is the best.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: nativeNYer
                                Miss Needle RE: nativeNYer Feb 23, 2007 06:07 AM

                                I definitely agree with you about Mitali. It's definitely been underrated by Chowhounds. There is something about their tandoor oven that makes their naan better than anywhere else.

                              2. nyufoodie RE: lalagirl Feb 19, 2007 08:22 PM

                                I like Bricklane on 6th St. ...which serves a wide variety of curry dishes.

                                1. n
                                  Nathan07 RE: lalagirl Feb 20, 2007 03:03 PM

                                  Angon used to be great because the famous Mina was in the kitchen. she left almost a year ago. its now the same as all the rest.
                                  Brick Lane is probably the best on the block, but that's not saying much.

                                  1. p
                                    polishpierogi RE: lalagirl Feb 21, 2007 03:19 PM

                                    I had a TERRIBLE experience at angon where they forgot to bring out the crackers and sauce before our meal and i SWEAR they gave my frozen vegetables in my side of curry. NEVER AGAIN. go to banjara or haveli or brick lane. Even Mitali is great!

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: polishpierogi
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                                      Pan RE: polishpierogi Feb 21, 2007 06:22 PM

                                      Year ago, Mitali used to be the only tolerable Indian restaurant in the neighborhood, but their shrimp were always dicey (smelled and tasted too old). I haven't been there in years, but I'll bet their seafood isn't fresher now.

                                      1. re: Pan
                                        p
                                        Pan RE: Pan Feb 23, 2007 03:27 PM

                                        (I meant years ago, not a year ago.)

                                    2. m
                                      Mayur RE: lalagirl Feb 21, 2007 06:21 PM

                                      Devi can be traditional in style, if you ask Hemant to cook for you in a particular way. However, it's not really what Suvir and Hemant are trying to achieve; they're going for a more "contemporary" style. However, Indian cuisine is not really bogged down by traditionalist attitudes in most quarters; cooks in all quarters are constantly invigorating the cuisine by introducing new ingredients and preparations.

                                      "Not saying much" re Brick Lane, hmm? I and my family and friends find that the food there is actually pretty darn good. It's definitely my pick for e6th, and I find it better than 90% of the places in Curry Hill, Jackson Heights, or otherwise.

                                      1. j
                                        jwobkk RE: lalagirl Feb 27, 2007 09:25 AM

                                        Banjara is the best - just be sure to go midweek when it is not crowded...on the weekends the service can get really slow....food is excellent and the price is right

                                        1. HeatherFL RE: lalagirl Mar 2, 2007 05:50 AM

                                          I was simply quoting a chef after attending one of his classes. I apologize for leaving out a word-the curry *leaf* is from India. The concept of curry sauce is British. That is what HE said, and I apologize if the information I was given was incorrect. Again, I didn't mean to imply that other places are not good. HE said that he has yet to find authentic Indian in the States-and in a lot of his own country as well.

                                          Was not my intention to offend or give misinformation.

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