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ISO London type great Indian Food

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  • Ora Jun 12, 2005 04:16 PM
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OK, I have been spoiled. I have had excellent Indian food in London on many occasions. What I have NOT had is even decent Indian here in NYC. I've been all over and the Indian food in NYC is generally mediocre at best. But, I am thinking maybe I have not looked in the right places. So, I reach out to you my fellow hounds, can anyone name outstanding examples of Indian food from any region of the subcontinent. Yes, I have already been to Tamarind, Tabla Spice Market (I know these last two are "fusion" spots)--while all "good" those places are true homestyle Indian food and would never get away with such prices in London because that level of quality can be had all over London for a lot less. I've been to Lex & 28 places and yes, 6th St (And, Jackson Diner and most of those other places on Roosevelt Ave in Queens are nothing special at all). So, I am calling out for a hidden gem that I may have missed.

Do I have to go to London every time I need a Indian food fix?

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  1. Have you been to Devi? If not, I hope you'll try it before writing off all Indian restaurants in NYC. I think the food served there is some of the best Indian cuisine I've ever had.

    Re: your comment about high NYC prices for Indian food vs prices in London. When we were in London 6 years ago, we ate at a well-thought-of Indian restaurant whose name I can't remember. While the food was fine, I didn't consider it outstanding, and the cost was very high -- something like $90 for two. With the pound currently equal to about $1.90, the cost for Americans dining in England now is hardly economical. Actually, *astronomical* is the word that occurs to me.

    Link: http://www.devinyc.com

    3 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      Having lived in London for a 15 years, and being from the Indian subcontinent, I find it totally baffling that people go on and on about Indian food in London. In my experience, there are many, many "Indian" restaurants in New York, in the lower price ranges, that are comparable to ones in London. There is, admittedly, a larger number of more expensive, 'sophisticated' Indian restaurants in London.

      1. re: noodles

        OK--What are your reco's then?

        1. re: noodles

          Am from London and living in NY, love indian food and have travelled to india just to eat the real thing.......I have to say that the people complaining about Indian food in London probably ate on Brick Lane (mostly crap) and didn't eat in Tooting or aldgate.

          For a truly delicious adventure, go to Kastoori in tooting Bec, South London on a sunday and sample the Sunday special: smoked aubergine (eggplant) curry. i also suggest you start with tastebombs - dahi-puri.

      2. If as some of the detractors of the london indian dining experierce say- there is perfectly fine Indian food in NYC how come aside from Devi there are no recommendations? (I might have eaten at devi a bunch of years ago but I was singlulary unimpressed and am no positive it was there).
        I've had decent delivered takeout worthy of the UK in Jersey City last year but when I went to the resturant for a sit down (and being the only gringo in the place) What they served was nothing special. I think that the secret of being a successfull indian resturant in NYC is to dumb down the spices and complexity so that it appeals to Mid-western tastes. I find most of the newer style indian places just are fancy ingredients, fancily prepared with no taste. :(

        1. Have you been to Brick Lane on E. 6th between 1st and 2nd? It's named after Brick Lane in London. You get the picture.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Non Cognomina

            I went once for my birthday a few years ago. Waited ages for a table and the food was totally tasteless.

            1. re: joelm

              Try it again. I've been there half a dozen times and loved it each and every. Esp the Lamb Madras.

              Husband's british and so we're likewise spoiled on UK indian food. Brick Lane in E.Village is by far our favorite in Manhattan.

              Alternatively, go to Queens, to Spicy Mina. Better than Brick Lane for sure, but a bit more of a hassle to get to.

          2. Now I know that New Jersey isn't in New York, but it is closer than London... Oak Tree road in Edison NJ is a main shopping street in a very Indian area, and has a good concentration of restaurants/take outs. Take NJ Transit to Metropark, then taxi 5 or 10 minutes from there.

            1. Yikes. If Brick Lane in London passes for real Indian food then Indian food outside India is really in trouble.

              I've lived in London and never want to see a "balti" or "chicken tikka masala" again. London has some good Indian eateries but many, many more mediocre to poor ones. New York has some good Indian restaurants (Cafe Spice, Bay Leaf, Surya, Baluchis to name a few reasonably priced ones), a few bad ones (anything on 6th street), and many decent ones that seem to be scattered across the city. I don't know where you are OP, but near where I live (Morningside Heights) you can't go wrong with Indus Valley or Tandoori North.

              2 Replies
              1. re: gumnaam

                Ugghhhh... You like Surya and Baluchi's? I've eaten at both and the food was really bland. Brick Lane is much better.

                1. re: gumnaam

                  Yikes! People be warned, the recommendation by gumnaam is a terrible post -- the fact that Baluchis is mentioned as a "good" place should have been the clue. But we went to Indus North on this recommendation, and it was the worst Indian meal we've had in years. Completely bland, tasteless, overcooked, underspiced, the kind of dross you used to get on 6th st way back when. The kind of Indian meal that makes you avoid Indian food for weeks or months. I can't imagine that this poster has any feel for Indian cuisine (I know this is ballsy, for all I know gumnaam is Indian), and while it may have been a bad night at the restaurant, it's inconceivable that EVERYTHING could have been the result of an off night. I love Indian food but if this was in my neighborhood -- and let's face it Morningside Hts is not a good neighborhood for good eats -- I'd get on the train and go elsewhere. Anywhere elsewhere.

                2. While Devi is good, in addition to pure quality I think the OP is looking for the kind of regional Indian food specialization I'm not sure you can find in NYC yet. Not just North or South, but Gujerati, Bangladeshi, or Tamil. Like Mexican in Los Angeles, for that level of specificity in exile you have to go to the center of emigration, i.e. London.

                  That said, though I haven't done much Indian exploration lately Saravanaas on Lexington and 26th has impressed me the most. It's a relative newcomer, so it might not have been there on the OP's last visit. On Diwali they were so kind as to give free tastes of a halwa-like confection, and their dried fruit and nut dosa is unique and delicious.

                  Ora, why don't you try the Outer Boros board? There's got to be more hidden gems there. On that note, have you been to Spicy Mina's?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Spoony Bard

                    For regional Indian specialization, you have to go outside Manhattan. However, excellent gujurati food is available at Vatan (3rd ave at 29th street), The Dosa joints are Tamil, of course, but you can now sample Chettinad food at the new restaurant in Little India (forgot the name but it is in the same block as Pongal). Dimple (30th between 5th and Broadway) is also great for Gujurati and Marathi street food.

                    1. re: gumnaam

                      Thanks for the tips, gumnaam. Part of the problem might be these regional specialties tend to be mixed up in a menu of bland Mughal crowd-pleasers. So do you have to go digging at these spots, or is everything done with a regional touch?

                      1. re: Spoony Bard

                        The dosa joints could be straight out of Madras. I'm not so sure about Chettinad because I've eaten it only once in Madras, so I'll pass on that. Vatan, I am told, is very authentic Gujurati.

                  2. Have you been to Chola or Utsav? I am not sure what you mean exactly by "London-type Indian" - but these are my two favorites for Indian in the city, and my Indian friends (from the subcontinent) recommend these and Devi as their favorites. (I haven't been to Devi. Yet.)
                    I have to say, I find it hard to believe you can get better food of ANY kind in London for less money than you can find comparable somewhere in NY - but then again I am a biased New Yorker.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: alyssi

                      You cannot get better food of ANY kind in London for less money! Believe me, I've just returned from six months in London and even a mediocre meal at a Cafe Rouge sets you back $30. Cafe Rouge is the London equivalent of a Le Monde or French Roast. Cheap indian food (£10 or under) is similar to the sixth street stuff. The thing about London is that you can get some really innovative food if you're willing to part with serious money. Vineet Bhatia's restaurant is excellent but expect to pay £200 a head. Nothing similar in New York. Port des Indes is the best value for money. £100 a head but the best Indian food I've eaten in years. I'm a biased New Yorker but must admit that the food in London is more innovative and interesting. You just have to learn to ignore the right hand side and to pay your credit card blindfolded!