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Sep 29, 2006 01:18 PM

Spicy Mina's?

Ate dinner at a bustling, busy Sri last night and, as I drove to the BQE entrance, passsed Spicy Mina's. It was empty. Has anyone gone lately? Is it not worth going any more? I couldnt help but feel sad.

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  1. We went over the summer a couple of times and really enjoyed it. Everything tasted very fresh. We want to go back but it's a bit out of the way for us.

    1. I still go once or twice a month and it is unchanged. That is a compliment from me,others might feel differently. I had them cater an office lunch for me about a month ago and they did a great job.

      1. I've been two or three times in the last six months, and it is invariably delicious though there is some variation from time to time. I will say that the chicken is often kind of stringy and tough, even if the sauces it swims in are great. Also, it is not a high-energy feeling place to go like Sri--it feels a little sad. Maybe that would turn around if more people went? I believe that their catering is probably amazing. Once when I was there they were preparing a huge catering order that looked really great.

        1. I drive by Mina's quite frequently, and I always notice that the place is usually close to empty. I don't know if this is a testament to their food. It might just be that people who appreciate Mina don't all flock together every night at the same time making the place seem busy or crowded.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sandrina

            I've always thought there was a disconnect between the 'Hound buzz on Mina's and the reality that I've seen--there's never more than a couple tables full, and the front of the house look and feel certainly doesn't match either Mina's beaming smile or the (usually) really good food (on the other hand, I'm always there by 7 or so, so maybe the joint fills up later). Anyway, in my case, I always make carry out orders there. Though the to go menu is more limited, they don't seem to mind too much if you order stuff from the in-house menu to go, the food travels better than much of the stuff at Sri, and you don't have to hang out in the relatively drab environs.

          2. Well, as one who lives in the "relatively drab environs" (i.e Woodside), I find Mina's to be interesting but highly variable both in terms of the food and the level of service. Although less maddening in terms of service than the old Mina's. When they get it right the result is sublime, and better than pretty much all of the other South Asian restaurants in the area, but when they don't the result ranges from passable to inedible.

            The main problems thay have are their location, which is out of the way even for Woodside and a bit of a ways from the main South Asian area and population over in Jackson Heights, and their prices, which are high for folks in the neighborhood and higher than most of the other casual South Asians in the area.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Woodside Al

              No knock from me on the environs of Woodside itself, just the way the restaurant looks on the inside. It's kinda ugly, no? Perhaps the same could be said about the old Sri, but the place had energy, even if you managed to go there when it wasn't full. Mina's just isn't an appealing environment to sit down and eat in.

              1. re: MarcInSunnysideGardens

                Agreed about the restaurant. They could use a little lighting and decor help, and perhaps some soft tasteful music (although the lack of these things doesn't make them appreciably different from the other South Asian restaurants in the area over by 74th St., many of which are florescent lit horrors). After the first time I went there I've only gotten carry-out.

                1. re: Woodside Al

                  this topic often comes up in discussions of spicy mina -- and used to come up frequently regarding sripraphai -- and i always end up scratching my head over it. if a place is downright dirty, i tend to stay away entirely. if it's really ramshackle -- like difara's, for instance -- i can understand feeling a bit uncomfortable eating there. but a plain/unadorned/decor-free environment has never bothered me all that much. am i missing something?

                  1. re: david sprague

                    No, it just doesnt have the warm, cozy feel that would fit so nicely with the amazing food.

                    I've only been to mina's once and raved about it for months after. And I always want to go back..but its so remote for me from cobble hill and it just doesnt feel like a destination with the drab interior. I wish I lived closer for take out ;)

                    1. re: david sprague


                      It's a good topic.

                      Sripraphai pre-renovation was bare bones but bustling. It was just a positive space to be in, usually, once you got seated.

                      Mina's right now is... yeah, pretty ramshackle. If one doesn't have a car or lives too far away from a place like this, but really likes the food, then one sits down and eats. But if one can easily take-out, that just seems like a no-brainer... Mina's has that glass display counter filled with cases of soft drinks that obviously beg to be stored elsewhere (but there's probably no room), and when it rains Mina's lays out flattened cardboard boxes to sop up the wetness that customers bring in... it's ramshackle. I could go on but I don't want to be unfair. I support and like the place. I think a lot of people want more energy from the physical place they're going to sit down to dinner at. The food is obviously paramount, but if it's a scene like Mina's and you can get it to go and go home and open up a nice bottle of wine and put some good music on... it's an easy choice.

                      My hope/theory is Mina's looks empty because a lot of their customers feel that way.

                      1. re: MarcInSunnysideGardens

                        As a huge Mina and Sri fan I have a few thoughts. One of the benifits of take out from Mina is that you can get half orders and pay half price. The major drawback is that one of the great pleasures of "Indian" food is a nan right out of the tandoor, and that element will always be missing. The place is drab and dark and almost always empty but I don't go there when atmosphere is an issue, I go to Mina when all I want is great food and perhaps that is why I usually go to Mina alone. I love it's location right off the BQE and always appreciate the easy parking situation. Last Christmas Day I was driving back from Philly and called Mina to see if she was open. I was told they were about to close, it was only about 7:00. We stopped at Sri and the place was packed. I don't know why Mina does not get the love that the original Sri got, although price might be a factor. Mina is an Indian restaurant in an "Indian" area with tons of competion. Sri has almost no competion in the area and has gained,desrvedly so, a reputation as a destination restaurant. Whatever the reasons, I'm picking up takeout from Sri in a couple of hours, Penang Curry and Drunkin Noodles.

                        1. re: MarcInSunnysideGardens

                          Had my first visit to this Mina outpost and after posts which use words like "ramshackle" I expected the worst - well, nothing like - certainly better than Sunnyside, clean painted walls, cloth napkins, enough glasses for the room, etc.

                          The food was very tasty (the iftar haleem and khichuri I asked for veg and it was served with a SPECTACULAR fried potato patty with cheese inside), service nice once we established communication, the pricing a bit ad hoc, like the whole place really. I think they just dont get US restaurant culture, but thats ok with me - you have to feel around what they can cook that day, and accept the price uncertainty - thats not a problem for me, but I can see it might be for some.

                          It wasnt empty - there were people in and out the whole time I was there - but certainly not bustling.

                        2. re: david sprague

                          I love DiFara, it is the best pizza on earth and while it is always ramshakle it is very often downright dirty. Garbage on tables that are never wiped clean, Dom handeling the money and then the raw ingredients. I have never seen anything unsanitary about Mina.