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Jackson Diner vs. Delhi?? a poll.....

Susan O'Grady Jun 14, 2000 10:17 AM

want to take Dad for Indian food on Sunday and wanted to know which of the above my fellow chowhounds recommend....have been several times to Jackson Diner, although not recently....and vaguely rememeber a review of Delhi which said it was even better than JD, although I have not tried it.
Which do YOU think is better?????

  1. j
    Jeremy Jun 14, 2000 10:54 AM

    No contest... Jackson Diner has gone downhill, true, but it is way better than Delhi Palace.

    1. s
      Sean Jun 14, 2000 11:55 AM

      DELHI PALACE is better overall.

      The FOOD is better at DP. Of course this is a matter of personal taste, but it seems DP has retained its AUTHENTICITY, while JD has compromised itself in exchange for wider appeal.

      The DECOR is better at DP: its murals are far more interesting than JD's Starbucks design.

      DP is LESS-CROWDED and therefore much MORE PEACEFUL. Despite JD's larger size, it is often over-crowded (from past-reputation, not better food!). This results in a wait to be seated and an institution-like atmosphere.

      Of course there are some nice touches at JD including fresh naan brought to your table and more modern facilities (read: bathroom!). Overall though, I prefer DP. I just hope this poll doesn't spoil a good thing!

      1. j
        Jim Leff Jun 14, 2000 12:59 PM

        Neither. And I'm very sorry to say I can offer no alternatives. Though I'm overdue checking out Ashoka, which I hear might have improved.

        I keep hearing positive reports about Jackson Diner from reliable people; maybe they CAN put out good food sometimes. But I"ve eaten far too much garbage there since they moved, and have pretty much written them off.


        31 Replies
        1. re: Jim Leff
          MacLiam Jun 14, 2000 08:20 PM

          The idea here was to choose between the two given options. One might get the impression that you are afraid to come out on the wrong side. Are you trying to prove your *superior* taste by putting down both restaurants? That is surely not in the spirit of the Chowhound site, Mr. Chowhound. Sometimes freedom of expression is best tempered by knowing when to say when.

          Bye (or should I say "ciao" to further show how cosmopolitan I am?)

          1. re: MacLiam
            Allan Evans Jun 15, 2000 12:24 AM

            Why not put both down? I've eaten at both and will only return at gunpoint: reheated stale food, indifferent preparation, tons of grease, fat, ghee, vulgar use of cumin (similar to dolts ruining Mediterranean dishes with oregano in lieu of any other extant herb). Quite simply, they both stink.

            1. re: Allan Evans
              Moses Jun 15, 2000 10:55 AM

              Would it be authentic Indian without all of the oil & ghee? Too much cumin? I suppose you have a problem with chilis as well? These are all a part of indian cooking, and in generous proportion too. Would you prefer that the food were toned-down to suit blander tastes? What a perfect way to ruin a good thing! You sound more like the "nouveau Indian-Southwest-fusion-bistro-type," (with a fine-wine list, bien sur).

              With all of the various "ethnic" cuisines to be found in NYC, the best restaurants are the ones that simply reproduce the cooking of their country or region as it is eaten in the home. Here, we should defer to a person of Indian-origin to be the true judge. But if the number of Indian families eating at these restaurants is any indication, then I'd say they are doing something right.

              By the way, in my home, we always reheated.

              1. re: Moses
                jen kalb Jun 15, 2000 11:39 AM

                Id say the personal attacks on Jim and Allan, two of a large group of people who have watched, sadly as Jackson Diner has gone downhill, are out of line. The food at JD is cheap and tasty and still mostly ok but as a whole, it in no way compares to what it was. The personal touch and refinement are gone. Example - coriander chutney without fresh coriander and with green food coloring. Masala dosai without any cashew nuts in the filling. No chopped coriander garnish on veg dishes anymore and a general feel that dishes are being slopped out of big vats. In my opinion, it is more useful to be honest about JD's slide and go out and find some places that are producing really good Indian food...maybe you can recommend some.

                1. re: jen kalb
                  Jim Leff Jun 15, 2000 12:56 PM

                  I'd like to add that I was the first to review Jackson Diner...in my very first-ever review (for NY Press...I know, spin grogger here) in 1989 or so. Before 99% of Manhattanites ever even heard of Jackson Heights.

                  1. re: Jim Leff
                    Sue Cummings Jun 20, 2000 06:43 PM

                    Okay, okay. We who live in Jackson Heights tend to take these restaurants for granted. I don't think either are as good as they once were, but they're still a vast improvement over what you'd get in Manhattan.

                    My preferred Indian place in the hood has been Dimple for quite some time. Yes, it's reheated, too, but made in smaller quantities and stored where you can see it!

                    1. re: Sue Cummings
                      Joe O'Brien Jun 23, 2000 03:51 AM

                      As one of the privileged hounds living in Jackson Heights,
                      I'd have to say my favorite South Asian places are Anand Bevan (sp?) and Alauddin. I think the buffet at Alauddin (the Bangladeshi place on 37th ave. x 72nd.) is the best in town for taste and reliability. I must go there about once a week. I've given up on Jackson Diner, which I used to really dig. The food is just too bland and mass-produced anymore. I had a really outstanding buffet at Ashoka two weeks ago, but last week it was not quite as good. Dimple is good too, but they never seem to have iddlis on hand, which are my favorite. Rajbog is probably the best place for finger food (samosa et al.), sweets and kulfi.

                      Joe O'Brien

                2. re: Moses
                  Allan Evans Jun 15, 2000 12:53 PM

                  No problem with fat, grease oil and cumin, just when they are used in a heavy-handed way with little sense or sensibility. No problem with chilis either, just with BAD cooking in which the above elements dwarf all else, including the grace and proportion I enjoy when eating with Indian friends at their homes.
                  As for numbers making sense (many Indian families eating at these joints), how about MacDonalds representing American cuisine due to the large turnout? In both cases it's price and convenience in lieu of good cooking. I used to eat at both places until 5 years ago and mourn the deep dive they've taken.

                  1. re: Allan Evans
                    Allan Evans Jun 15, 2000 01:12 PM

                    The newer "Ashok" (sic?) restaurant on 37th Avenue between 74th & 75th streets is closer to the original Jackson Diner. The food is more carefully prepared and some familiar staff from the old place appeared. It is "better" than the swill joints around the block, but that, alas, is not saying much. I prefer Anand Bhavan on 73rd St to all the others, but they are Southern (no meat): best are uttappam, chick pea curry, and okra. No buffets here (which tend to kill nowadays).

                    1. re: Allan Evans
                      Moses Jun 15, 2000 02:05 PM

                      Ah yes, the old MacDonalds comparison. So now any response to the contrary would, in essence, be like a defense of MacDonalds. Clever.

                      1. re: Moses
                        Allan Evans Jun 15, 2000 03:24 PM

                        Apt, not clever.

                        1. re: Moses
                          Steven Stern Jun 15, 2000 04:17 PM

                          So which one do -you- like better, o cranky person? And why?

                          1. re: Steven Stern
                            moses Jun 15, 2000 08:45 PM

                            Bah, humbug! ;-(

                            1. re: moses
                              Steven Stern Jun 15, 2000 08:57 PM

                              No, really...which do you like better? You entered into this conversation about two restaurants in Jackson Heights with strong opinions on what had been said before, so I assume you've been to both places. What do you think of them?

                      2. re: Moses
                        Jim Leff Jun 15, 2000 12:54 PM

                        I'll speak for both Allan (who I know very well) and myself:

                        "Would it be authentic Indian without all of the oil & ghee?"

                        Without ALL the oil and ghee...no. Without 75% of it...yes!

                        "Too much cumin? I suppose you have a problem with chilis as well?"

                        you suppose very wrong

                        "These are all a part of indian cooking, and in generous proportion too"


                        "Would you prefer that the food were toned-down to suit blander tastes?"

                        no, just that it was prepared less cynically to reflect the way Indians really eat (i.e. not pooled with ghee or spiced with utter disregard for balance).

                        "You sound more like the "nouveau Indian-Southwest-fusion-bistro-type," (with a fine-wine list, bien sur)."

                        Man, how could we be so utterly transparent??? You've perfectly captured us! I'm speechless!

                        Ok, back to my brie and chardonnay...


                        1. re: Jim Leff
                          howler Jun 15, 2000 11:20 PM

                          jim - you very well know that a loire red is the ONLY possible match for brie, so why are you confusing the issue?


                        2. re: Moses
                          Allan Evans Jun 15, 2000 12:57 PM

                          "By the way, in my home, we always reheated."
                          After how many days? The JD and DP seem to get plenty of mileage on their stuff. And what's wrong with fine wine? You prefer "plonk"?

                          1. re: Moses
                            Anil Jun 24, 2000 11:13 AM

                            1. Would it be authentic Indian without all of the oil & ghee?

                            Well, in Bengal and many places in South India, oil
                            and ghee are kept at a minimum ;-)

                            I suppose you have a problem with chilis as well?

                            In Southindian chilies dominated, where as in North India, specially Mogul-style cooking spices (garam masala) was king.

                            I have not seen any Parsi influenced restaurants in
                            NYC. In my teenage years I travelled extensively all
                            over India; found a great deal of variety in usage
                            of ingredients.


                            PS: Having said that I have not visited that neighborhood in Years. I find some promise in
                            south indian food in Lexington area. These resturants
                            have made effort to woo kosher clients.

                            1. re: Anil
                              Maria Jun 27, 2000 12:58 AM

                              I'm a little late coming in on this discussion, but..You're perfectly right. I'm appalled that people still judge Indian food authenticity by chilli-hotness and oil content. It's as uninformed as judging Italian food by red sauce (no sauce? - Hmmm can't be REAL Italian) That being said, I wonder more of us just don't throw up our hands and go home to cook the real stuff for ourselves and our kids instead of patronising these joints. Also, if more non-Indians tried their hand at the cuisine, they'd be better-informed consumers and maybe, just maybe more restaurants would come up to speed. It happened with Chinese. P.S. - I wish I could find a Parsi restaurant, too.

                              1. re: Maria
                                Allan Evans Jun 27, 2000 07:19 AM

                                We have been eating in much more lately. The Indian markets in Jackson Heights, Lexington @ 28th St and Flushing are overflowing with supplies. One concern: India probably uses DDT and worse in its rice fields and crops so there is some concern with their imports. We use organic basmati as a compromise. To make a proper dish such as Kolapuri mutton, two days of preparation and cooking are needed: day one is devoted to marinating the meat in crushed garlic, ginger, turmeric and yogurt. Day two, roasting the spices and grinding them (masala), beginning the sauce ( sauteeing onions and spices) adding the meat, some tomatoes, herbs, and monitoring it all for 4 hours. Chappati is a cinch to make by comparison.

                                1. re: Allan Evans
                                  rebeccahodgson Jun 27, 2000 11:10 AM

                                  Would you be so kind as to email me or refer me to a recipe for this mutton dish? I am incredibly hungry now, one hour before my lunch, having read those delicious ingredients, intrigued by the two day process and properly challenged to become a better-informed consumer. REALLY - I would be grateful.

                                  1. re: rebeccahodgson
                                    Allan Evans Jun 27, 2000 11:16 AM

                                    It is in (don't gasp) Madhur Jaffrey's A Taste of India: aside form the colorful pictures, she carried out a reasonably fine research on the regional dishes and had informants provide the recipes. Her quantities may be modified of course (we use fewer chili peppers as too many would blur the garam masala and intrinsic earthiness of the mutton). The main challenge is to get decent mutton. Try ordering it from the lamb purveyors (selling woolen items with an ice chest of meat) at the Union Square Greenmarket (on Fridays or Saturdays). This is absolutely essential, as mere lamb won't do.

                                    1. re: Allan Evans
                                      jen kalb Jun 27, 2000 11:21 AM

                                      how would goat do, do you think? certainly more readily available than mutton in NYC.

                                      1. re: jen kalb
                                        Allan Evans Jun 27, 2000 12:01 PM

                                        It would be more than adequate, not a bad substitution, but mutton triumphs in most cases.

                                        1. re: Allan Evans
                                          rebeccahodgson Jun 27, 2000 01:21 PM

                                          Thanks much for the info, I will definitely buy the book. Indian cuisine, as well as central asian, has recently begun to fascinate me. I really am ignorant on the subject and, as you suggested, am betting that cooking it once and a while will teach me more than a hundred restaurant visits ever could. I will definitely prepare this particular dish with lamb, at least the first time, so I have an authentic introduction to it. Any particular cooking implements (I am already guessing my mortar and pestle will be put to good use) I might find handy? You know, any excuse for a new kitchen tool...Thanks again

                                          1. re: rebeccahodgson
                                            Allan Evans Jun 27, 2000 10:02 PM

                                            Marble mortar and pestles are great and cast iron skillets too. Make sure the oil and sautee are hot when you add the roasted spices so that they exude an oil which separates as they cook. This will enhance the taste immeasurably. Otherwise it's quite simple but time-consuming.

                                            1. re: rebeccahodgson
                                              Maria Jun 28, 2000 01:28 AM

                                              -A good coffee grinder for spices if your elbow grease isn't flowing for the mortar and pestle.
                                              -A fine-mesh sieve to sieve out the gritty bits from the just-ground spices(I find raw coriander seeds to be particulary troubling since the kernels powder up fine but the husky outsides turn into miniature versions of fingernails) I actually use a Japanese skimmer, it's the finest mesh you can find readily and cheaply ,I think.
                                              - A good food processor to help with chopping and pureeing.
                                              -A grater. I like it for the tiny quantities of ginger and garlic pastes that electric gadjets can't do.
                                              -If you are really ready to splurge (I'm still saving up), some Indian companies make electric grinders for the home with real stone grinding surfaces, but they cost around $300US to buy them here. There are links for these -if you're interested.
                                              -I think cast iron is great, but since I don't have patience for upkeep I find any heavy pots, stainless or enamel on cast-iron are fine.

                                        2. re: Allan Evans
                                          rebeccahodgson Jun 27, 2000 04:45 PM

                                          After never having heard the name before I am presented with it twice in one day - you might need to register with NYTIMES to follow the link below - basically Jaffrey is cooking in NY this coming weekend!

                                          Link: http://www.nytoday.com/scripts/editor...

                                          1. re: Allan Evans
                                            Maria Jun 28, 2000 01:04 AM

                                            If you like Madhur Jaffrey, you'll probably love Camellia Panjabi's book , "50 Great Curries of India", which was printed in UK by Kyle Cathie Ltd. and which I believe was reprinted as "Great Curries of India" in US in the last few years. I consider her recipes far superior and she includes about 50 pages of miscellaneous information which really makes the cooking and eventual custom-design of complex curries accessible to everyone. I'm not knocking Jaffrey, in fact her narrative is immensely interesting, but train your palate on Panjabi.

                                        3. re: Allan Evans
                                          howler Jun 27, 2000 06:44 PM

                                          allan - you astonish me. kolhapur is my ancestral town, and i never thought i'd see kolhapuri ANYThING on these boards. actually, kolhapur is known throughout western india for its 'chappals' - leather slippers that eventually shape themselves like another skin to your foot. every tea drinking, kurta wearing, marxist leaning rich kid has to own a pair.

                                          and peeking down these threads, you are absolutely right about the mutton ... but i'd really be surprised if you could get indian tasting mutton here. god knows i've tried, but it'd be just my luck if you found a source right when i'm about to flee gotham.

                              2. re: Jim Leff
                                Lorna Jun 15, 2000 05:29 AM

                                Up until about a year ago, I would have heartily endorsed Delhi Palace as being superior, but it has changed management and/or owners, and its food and service have gone downhill. Still, I prefer it to Jackson Diner, which, as others have said, is not what it used to be before it moved to its new location. The atmosphere at DP is also that of a pleasant restaurant, as opposed to JD's cafeteria feel.

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