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Tiffin Wallah on E 28th Street -- Anyone been?

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I noticed that a new and interesting-looking Indian place just opened on 28th between Park and Lex.... they say they're open for business. Anyone been yet? Thoughts?

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  1. A group of us ate there tonight. Although the place was near-finished for a while, it has evidently only been open for two days.

    There was an older waiter at the entrance, but i immediately recognized the younger man on the floor as the owner of Chennai Garden. Weirdly, I had first met him a few days after Chennai Garden had opened, after stumbling upon the place when visiting Blue Smoke. Even if you didn't know they were related, you might guess that there was a relationship. Tiffin Wallah is more modern looking and stylish in its dinnerware than most of its Curry Hill competitors.

    The menu is Southern Indian, of course. There are a few minor differences between the Tiffin and Chennai. In some cases, the differences are semantic -- there is a Tiffin section of the menu,including the usual Vadas, Chats, Idli's, etc. -- really no difference from the appetizers at Chennai, although everything's a little cheaper at Tiffin.

    Some of the highlights of the meal included a luscious uttapam with green chili and onions (but they'll put anything in there that you request), excellent dosa podi, a bhel puri chock full of cilantro, and competent dosas. The mango shake I had tasted more of mango than milk, and was made from real mango pulp -- delicious.

    We didn't try any of the gujarati or punjabi curries. Based on what we experienced, the quality is similar to Chennai's. There were some kinks in the service, but they are clearly working out the kinks.

    A lunch buffet will be offered for $6, but the marketing seems heavily toward selling tiffin wallah's, set meals, both in the restaurant, and more importantly, as delivery products. The owner seemed to look at Tiffin Wallah, to some extent, as a lab to determine what Indian foods could be made properly and still be deliverable.

    Here's the website if you want more info: http://www.tiffinwallah.us/

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dave Feldman

      Fascinating...thanks for the report Dave!

    2. I went to Tiffin Wallah this past Saturday night after -already- eating dinner, but I couldn't resist partaking in my friends' dishes. The food is so delicious, it's simply impossible not to get caught up in the sensory experience of eating it.

      We had a new dish I had never tried -- unfortunately I forget the name now. It was a rice mixed with various spices and add-ins. The textures and flavors were amazing -- crunchy, chewy, spicy, sweet. I would have taken back a second order for my roommates if I had been going straight home.

      I also had a dosa that was perfectly crisp, filled with distinctively spiced potato and just a kick of hot pepper. Whereas in the past I've steered clear of palaak paneer, this time I just had to give it a shot, and was glad I did. Creamy, but not overpoweringly so. The curry was spiced just right, and I wish I had ordered more. Also tried the chana masala, which is my staple dish from Chennai Garden, and an outstanding half-of-a-samosa (all that my friends had left me!).

      My last thought after finally folding up my napkin was that eating at Tiffin Wallah (and Chennai Garden) one is introduced to a world of vegetarian food that leaves nothing to be desired. The flavors are rich and satisfying, perfectly blended, and harmonize flawlessly. I am notorious for adding salt to vegetable dishes, yet I never once thought that the food at Tiffin Wallah needed a kick.

      I can't wait to order their lunch service (praying they will deliver west of Union Square). I would normally go for the same dosa or the same curry, but after sampling a range of the chef's specialties, I am confident that any dish ordered at Tiffin Wallah would be the perfect one.

      As far as service goes, I should add that the owner himself was there to supervise, and gave our table and the other parties there equally friendly and gracious attention. We did the often frowned upon disservice of staying way past closing, but the staff, and especially the owner, seemed more than happy to stay as long as we were enjoying ourselves. Our group was the last to leave, and he even walked us out and shook our hands.

      Excuse my sentiment, but in a city like New York, where it is almost chic to be abrasive, Tiffin Wallah is a breath of fresh air... scented with the aroma of exotic ambrosia.

      2 Replies
      1. re: shmooperdooper

        Thanks, Dave, for the website info... I just looked up my rice dish, and it's called "Behl Puri" ...sooooo good....

        1. re: shmooperdooper

          Glad you enjoyed Tiffin. For now, I'd probably go there before Chennai Garden, as the atmosphere is so relaxed, and with nicer surroundings, you get slightly cheaper prices. And of course, the owner is there.

          Have you tried Saravanaas on the other side of Lexington? There, the service can be indifferent, but I think the food is a little better.

      2. I've been twice since it opened -- once for the lunch buffet and once on the weekend for a non-buffet lunch. I teach in the neighborhood, so I'm very familiar with the Indian restaurants in the area. Tiffin Wallah is heads-and-shoulders better, in my opinion, than any of the other vegetarian lunch buffet places -- I highly recommend it

        1. Just went today. We shared an app and two curries, and it was too much food for us. :)

          The $4 samosa chat is a large bowl of it, with four samosas smothered in thick, fresh yougurt, chopped bits of vegetable and maybe some cardamom pods, fresh herbs and a sweet reddish chutney, probably tamarind but with less kick than I'm used to. It was a bit less like street food and more like something a good cook would put together at home, though I did miss some of the kick.

          For drinks, my sweetie got a mango lassi (agreed with above, more mango than lassi but you can't knock the fresh fruit texture of it) and I got the chas, described as a yogurt shake with salt and spices. I figured it would resemble a salty lassi, maybe with some cardamom and chili. Instead, it was also strewn with minced raw veggies: onion, scallion or chive, tomato, etc. It tasted exactly like vegetable cream cheese. Fantastic stuff.

          The sukhi bhaji (from the Gujarati section) was a nice, dryish potato curry flecked with onion and whole spices. It had abright flavor to it and it was obviously made to order. Good, but not stunning in any way. I think they went easy on the spicing for us gringos.

          The bhindi masala, that okra-and-tomato warhorse found at buffets everywhere, was the star, though. The okra was perfectly cooked, neither firm and bitter nor overcooked to slimy mush, the two ways I've always had it in this dish. The bits of tomato were sweet but still had body, and the sauce had soul; richly spiced and well-balanced. Instead of okra swimming in something reddish and viscous, it felt like a real dish, with all sorts of textures and flavors going on.

          I'd probably bump up the heat quotient a bit, but I'm intrigued enough to want to try more.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hatless

            I'm curious about the meal delivery service. Anybody have any information? Also, I talked to the owner of Chennai Garden and the man who owns Tiffinwalla is not an owner of Chennai garden -- he is a former employee.

          2. We went shortly after the Voice review. It's good for the extremely low price. 100% vegetarian, which was not make clear enough in the review.

            It's certainly worth going to once, but we won't be back.

            1 Reply
            1. loved it. we went last night for dinner and had a great experience. although i knew we'd have too much food, i couldn't resist ordering 3 apps: bhel puri, chana chat, and the idli/vada combo in sambar. all were great, with really bright, zingy flavors, and HUGE portions. my bf and i were full by the time our mains came out, but we made a valiant effort as they were also excellent. the masala sada dosa with spinach was very savory, and the undhiyu (a mixed veg curry of eggplant, yam, peas, and potato) was impressive. not spicy at all, but it had a rich depth of flavor and definite soul. all of this came to less than $35, including a generous tip (very nice staff). i can't wait to go back.

              1. Lunch buffet one of the best deals in town.

                1. I went today with a friend. As a South Asian, have to say that there are better places in that hood than Tiffin Wallah. What is the hype about?? At the lunch buffet, there was oily but dry breads, tasteless colored rice, equally tasteless curries. Its a joke. Sure its cheap, but so is a slice of pizza--and I would have a slice of good pizza before going to this place for lunch again.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: simsum

                    so .....................then where do you recommend? Thanks

                    1. re: scunge

                      Saravana has tastier curries. I have long liked Madras Mahal, but have not been there in a while.
                      The Dosa Hut next to the Hindu Temple has been excellent, although, (to my mother's dismay) I haven't been to the temple in quite sometime.
                      45-63 Bowne Street, Flushing, Queens (near 45 Avenue)

                    2. re: simsum

                      This sums up my experience as well.

                    3. Just went to Tiffin Wallah for dinner. I'm a big fan of Chennai Garden, and thought the food at Tiffin Wallah was about as good, overall. My mysore masala dosa was not as good as those I've had at Chennai (dosa not crisp enough, spice mix not as zippy). But my lassi was great, and my friend's uttapam (with coriander, chili and garlic) was really spectacular food. It's a nice space, much nicer than Chennai's basement space. I think it's where the old steam-table place Joy used to be. There were a couple of off-notes that are worth mentioning, though -- the service was friendly but unskilled and I found some small rocks in my dosa. No, these were not some spice that I was unused to -- they were little brownish fragments of something very hard and entirely tasteless. (My friend had me half-convinced that they were spices, so I washed one off and tasted it by itself. Mmmmmmm, rocky!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: foodforbrains

                        The rocks are a hazard of Indian dal (legumes). Comes from inadequate sifting. Lazy food prep.