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Best Indian food in Queens (not counting Spicy M)

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Looking for some good Indian/South Asian food tonight- we love Spicy Mina's and have been there several times, so we're hoping to try something new (but of that level of excellence). We have been a bit underwhelmed by the Jackson Heights offerings (e.g., Delhi Palace), although I do enjoy Rajbhog and Dimple when we're in the mood for chaat. Have I just not found the right place in JH? Any suggestions?

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  1. I'm looking forward to reading the replies. About 2 years ago I posted an essay asking why there aren't any good Indian restaurants -- or, if they are, they close down.
    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/247368 Maybe I'm not traveling far enough... I've heard great things about Richmond Hill, Hillside Av, Jamaica Av, etc., as well as the Kerala place near the county line. http://www.keralakitchen.com/

    2 Replies
    1. re: Brian S

      I have to disagree about Ashoka on 37th Ave. They had an amazing buffet years ago, but lately the food has been just so so. I haven't been since last summer, after some unhappy food experiences.

      Personally, living in Jackson Heights, I (omnivore) usually like the food at Delhi Palace, although I have Indian friends (vegetarian) who say the food there isn't particularly good.
      I can't bring myself to go back to Jackson Diner - I agree that that the quality has taken turn for the worse since the upgrade a few years back.

      1. re: racer x

        try to Worlds Fair Marina in flushing. they also do catering

    2. one block down from 74th and roosevelt where the pizzaria is on the corner, make a right the restaurant is NEW ASHOKA, it is buffet style, choice of at least 12 to 15 different items for like 8.99 dinner. excellent treat.

      2 Replies
      1. re: SILVER

        Will have to try it next time. We ended up at Spicy Mina, which was outstanding as usual.

        1. re: SILVER

          I took some friends to Ashoka recently, after reading something good about it here, because I thought that at 3 p.m. the Jackson Diner buffet wouldn't have much left. Luckily my friends were not from an area with much exciting food because the Ashoka stuff was definitely boring. The restaurant is drab and I doubt I will return. My Indian friend had said she didn't like it, but sometimes I find her opinions too harsh. I do agree on this one. My recent experiences at Jackson Diner have been far superior.

        2. The Jackson Diner is definitely the way to go in JH. The other nearby restaurants pale in comparison. I specifically recommend the buffet lunch, which is always spiced to Indian rather than American palates.

          2 Replies
          1. re: danikm

            I havent been there in about 10 years, since the day I gained 4 pounds in one hour at that buffet. Back then some dishes were much better than others so I would begin with a plate with a tablespoon of each selection, then I'd go back and load up on the best ones. I've heard the quality has declined but that's just hearsay.

            1. re: danikm

              The ungodly glop at the Jackson Diner has deteriorated to extreme levels in recent years. Its once stellar reputation (circa 1990) is all it has now.

            2. Quality at Jackson Diner has declined precipitously over the last few years. Now I would say it's no better than any number of other Indian buffet places in NYC. New Ashoka is OK for the price, which is cheap, but that's about all. In fact, as the original poster has noted, there are no really good Indian restaurants in the Jackson Heights area, despite the high concentration of them there. I made a post discussing this lack and inquiring as to the reasons for it a month or so ago, but the CH gods deleted it for some unknown reason.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Woodside Al

                I think the food at Jackson Diner took a dip right after they made all those interior renovations. I remember the "dumpy" Jackson Diner when the food was much more memorable. Too bad for any newcomers.

                1. re: Woodside Al

                  Inspired by this, I have made just such a post on the General board. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/400385

                2. Whatever you do, steer clear of the buffet place on Roosevelt near the subway/bus terminal. The place looks inviting from the sidewalk, but the food is barely edible.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: racer x

                    So, then, where DO people go for good Indian food? Like I said, Spicy Mina's has so far been my favorite, but I'm always looking for new places...

                    1. re: bennyt

                      I have problems with the JD as well but I have had many happy times and excellent food at Delhi Palace. I love the tandoori esp. the Mixed Grill and I love the karahi bindi (okra) BYO wine no charge to open. Enjoy.

                      1. re: chasamark

                        Good to know- Spicy Mina is also BYOB, by the way, and you'll need some IPA or something to cut the spiciness!

                  2. Dosa Diner on 73rd between 37th and 35th Ave. is very good, but FYI they only serve dosas, iddlis, thali, etc. -- sort of the Indian equivalent of soup and salad. Also, for takeout, I really love Kebab King, which I think is very underrated on this board. It's Pakistani comfort food, very homemade tasting. Definitely not fancy. The beef (brisket in oil and gravy) is outstanding, as are all the vegetable curries, especially the peas in sauce. They make an ever-changing variety of pureed greens and it does not taste like frozen spinach like all the other restaurants. The greens with chicken meatballs is especially good. The vegetable somosa is the best I've ever had anywhere, and the homemade sweets are just outstanding -- so fresh. The lamb kebob is not bad (like meatloaf). I usually get roti, which is slightly better than the nan. (I once ate in the dining room upstairs and had a bad experience, but maybe I ordered wrong.)

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: KateC.

                      re dosa diner, I dont get the "soup and salad" comment - vegetables are all that most hindus eat - the meals they serve, esp the thalis, are full vegetarian meals.
                      Glad its still good.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        They have one thali and street food such as dosas. I'm not knocking it, I'm just saying don't expect to order family-style dinners here.

                        1. re: KateC.

                          probably in pure veg places this is going to be the format. For a comparable, Saravanaas Bhavan in Manhattan has a few more big dishes of an obviously sharable size, but mostly if you want actual veg dishes (as opposed to a big plate of rice) you order the thali. Its too bad that the JH Dimple is just snacks instead of having all the dishes that the Manhattan one does.

                          1. re: KateC.

                            er - the point jen is correctly making is that a thali IS a family-style dinner for hindus. and dosa is emphatically NOT street food (though its sold on the road at times).

                            1. re: KateC.

                              Oops, I meant to say sandwiches and soup, actually. Not an issue of no meat, more an issue of too much bread and not enough vegetables. Like a sandwich. Of course nonetheless I was there last night stuffing myself.

                            2. re: jen kalb

                              It's not quite accurate to say that most Hindus are vegetarian. Many of the Hindus that one tends to meet in this country are vegetarian but most Hindus, measured as a percentage of India's population, eat some form of meat/fish (though most Hindus do not eat beef). Although thalis are certainly considered meals in India, idlis, dosas and vadas are considered "tiffin" in South India. Tiffin sits somewhere in between a full meal and a snack. Chaat, on the other hand, is often considered a snack.

                            3. re: KateC.

                              I have to agree on Kebab King. Absolutely fantastic; especially (not surprisingly) the kebabs. The Bihari beef kebabs and the boti (chicken) kebabs are just phenomenal. I am surprised you think the veg curries are good. I have found them to be inconsistent. I basically go there and just order one meat dish after another.

                              Definitely one of the best in the city, and I remain surprised by how little attention it gets here.

                              HH

                              1. re: huzzahhuzzah

                                I have frequently recommended my fave at KK, the chicken tikka. Those who have tried it have agreed that KK is worth the stop. I usually eat downstairs, but upstairs is supposed to be reminiscent of old-style Indian restaurants.

                                1. re: JH Jill

                                  I will give it a try. I love all your tips.

                              2. re: KateC.

                                not necessarily for takeout, I've had a few meals upstairs where there is an actual menu and server, and some of the dishes are cooked to order if they don't have it downstairs. I usually take a good look before heading upstairs to see what's on (or not on) the menu. always a great meal, the best indian food that's consistent, and, high turnover due to high volume of customers. naan is excellent.

                              3. having read about Kerala Kitchen for years we finally got there a few monthes ago and must say the food is quite good and not standard at all. Apparently Keralan food is not traditionally served in restaurants but more of a home cooking tradition.

                                we first experienced it as guests of a family of devout vegetarians and always thought the food was outstanding. The meat, fish and veggie offerings at Kerala Kitchen make for interesting meals. One of our favs is mango curry. They run a full buffet on weekends and a mini one during the week. Even ordering ala carte is quite reasonable.

                                Our waiter several times was a lovely young man from Guyana - he was impressed with the food too as Guyanese food is a blend of I

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: tigerwoman

                                  Sounds interesting- where is this place? And what, exactly, is Keralan food?

                                  1. re: bennyt

                                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuisine_...

                                    http://www.keralakitchen.com/

                                    I've heard about this place for years and I've read about Kerala cuisine (which I think is quite varied, even the small Jewish community has different dishes) for years and I am drooling!!!

                                    1. re: Brian S

                                      I've posted favorably about the Kerala Kitchen in the past and happened to be there last night. Usually I only go for their lunch buffet which I'm a huge fan of, but last night's dinner was awful. Specifically the meat dishes. We had a Duck Piralan, a Pork Ularth, and a Mutton Curry. Each and every one of them was all fat, gristle and bones. The sauces were fine and vegetarian dishes were excellent as usual. At least we could chew them.

                                      There's much more fish and vegetarian dishes on the buffet so I haven't really noticed this problem before.

                                      I've never been to Kerala but I enjoy the spicing more than the "traditional" Indian restaurants in Queens. I assume this is pretty authentic and that if I was in Kerala I'd get similar quality meat. But I'm not in Kerala and last night was unacceptable.

                                      1. re: el jefe

                                        went to keralan kitchen last night and was pretty satisfied. i think more satisfied because of the novelty than the excellence - food was good to very good but not excellent. also several items on the menu were unavailable -- apparently their catering business is going gangbusters so they ran out of stuff (it was a keralan festival weekend, we were told.) all that said -- we had a "wild chicken" dish, and though the waiter couldn't tell us much about what made the chicken wild, it was very flavorful - rich and gamey, in a peppery cinnamony sauce - even if the meat was tough. also had a nice mixed-veg dish (Ayival), a cabbage and coconut dish (Thola - probably the standout dish we had), a Keralan yucca, and some iddly, the coconut chutney for which was outstanding. we'll go back to try some of the stuff we really wanted but they were out of.

                                        1. re: SBJH

                                          What time did you arrive there? I've been meaning to go for weeks, but since I'll be traveling by LIRR and going after work, it will be tough to make it before about 6:30 on a week day.

                                          1. re: SBJH

                                            I went to Kerala Kitchen this past weekend. It's a long way from Manhattan by public transportation, so didn't arrive until late afternoon, just as they were cleaning up the buffet.

                                            I agree that the draw is more the novelty than the quality of the food. It was all very good and filling, but not so good that I will be craving it and willing to endure such a long trip with any frequency.

                                            I spent some time in Kerala about 3 years ago and since then have had a hankering for some of the dishes that I had at (of all places) a hotel I stayed at. Although Kerala Kitchen's in-house menu usually serves iddly and vadai for breakfast, they obliged my request for some, which were delicious. (The server was very friendly and helpful, I might add.)

                                            I decided to skip on fish dishes this trip. I had several pork and mutton dishes; as well as chakkakuru ayival (jackfruit seed and mango curry), a tasty, somewhat sour soup of a dish. The non-veg dishes were good and very spicy, with a large quantity of meat in each dish - although perhaps a bit more in the way of bones, fat, gristle in addition to the meat than the American palate may be accustomed to. I also detected a bit in one of the dishes of what tasted somewhat like liver (although marrow is probably more likely - I usually avoid both, so I couldn't quite place the taste).

                                            Somehow I forgot to order mango chutney, which was one of the dishes I had wanted to try - will do that next time.

                                            1. re: racer x

                                              is this a south asian restaurant?

                                              1. re: bigjeff

                                                Sure is. Kerala is a state on the southwest coast of India.

                                  2. Ghodora on Hillside and 169th is my favorite South Asian eating location in New York. I was showed it by a Bengali who goes there with her family for special occassions when her mother doesn't want to cook. The food there is damn good and the prices are very low. Keep in mind it's Bengali so the emphasis leans towards their specialties. I love that place. It's one of my favorite places to eat in the world; it has lots of memories. A standard meal for me there would be the tiny Bengali freshwater fish with rice or lamb chops or a whole fish or my God anything. I've never had a bad meal there. They have excellent Bihari and Sikh kebabs as well. Good naan too. So damn good, I can say nothing bad about that place. Even the astonished looks oh "He can eat with only his right hand and he's American!" are a fun addition. Expect to get those if you go there. A lot.

                                    11 Replies
                                    1. re: JFores

                                      This sounds wonderful! I once found a Bengali place in Astoria (Cafe Jhill) which is as authentic in atmosphere though I'm not sure if the food is as good.
                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/247959

                                      1. re: Brian S

                                        Your spot sounds a bit more restauranty, though they do bring the food to you at Ghodora. I personally like the longer boney fish better than the short ones with the rib cages that poke your fingers when you're using your fingers to ravage them. I generally stick to lamb or fish as a rule so I haven't tried that much else. Ghodora has a wide menu too. The desserts seem to be from the same supplier as the rest of the area, which is actually a few home run enterprises that work together. My girlfriend's family caters everything out of here or Sagora down the block. They're both incredibly good, though we prefer Ghodora. She has relatives in Canada that catered their wedding from here, so it's pretty good on Bengali standards. Every Bengali traffic cop on Earth seems to eat here, btw. It's very much a place where all the men go for lunch and to hang out before their wives make them dinner later. Astoria (like all of Queens) has a rapidly (x 1000) expanding Bengali community. My favorite meal here is the little river fish probably, though they're overspiced sometimes. It's just that they're so hard to find even at Bengali places and I love them so I get them a lot. I had to repeat it 4 times when I went without my GF (who does my ordering usually :) ) before they were convinced that I did indeed want that.

                                        Oh, if you order off the top menu then things are almost always cooked to order. Otherwise, the fish does sit out. The Bihari kebab is fresh. Lamb stuff is generally fresh. Etc. I've never been to Spicy Mina's. Where is it?

                                        1. re: Brian S

                                          Oh my God, I just happen to be in Queens today and I'm not leaving before eating at Spicy Mina's. I haven't had home cooked Bengali food in a few months! Does she go overly heavy on spice and oil? I find that even Ghodora goes heavier on spice and oil than many mothers would.

                                          Oh and try to come just before the lunch rush because that's when they tend to put everything out. If not right before then come after the rush annhilates it so they have to make you new stuff.

                                          1. re: JFores

                                            I just ate at Spicey Mina's. Wow. Really really good stuff. I had the halim (the beans were a little overcooked, but awesome nonetheless.) The mustard fish was excellent. The best tilapia I've had outside of a Bengali family kitchen, though it practically was a family kitchen. Really good. She cooks her rice so well too!

                                            1. re: JFores

                                              I was at Spicy Mina's Friday. Loved the mixed grill (especially the pieces of lemony BBQ fish) and the "fresh" vegetable curry. And everyone there is so nice.

                                            2. re: JFores

                                              Thanks for the tip. But I struck out searching for Ghodora. Could this place actually be Ghoroa (168-41 Hillside Ave., between 168th Pl. and 169th St.)? I also wonder if "Sagora" is actually Sagar (168-25 Hillside).

                                              1. re: squid kun

                                                I bet it is Ghoroa. They even have a neat website that says that they are one of the best Indian restaurants in the area

                                                http://www.ghoroa.com/

                                          2. re: JFores

                                            I took the long long trip out there today and neither Ghoroa nor Sagar would cook anything to order, it was just steam table stuff that did not look appetizing at all. Ghoroa was totally empty, by the way, and Sagar was crowded. So I went back to Jackson Heights. Both places are right near the 169 stop of the F train, by the way. Also they didn't have Bengali specialties such as mustard fish.

                                            -----
                                            Ghoroa
                                            168-41 Hillside Ave, Queens, NY 11432

                                            Sagar
                                            168-25 Hillside Ave, Queens, NY 11432

                                            1. re: Brian S

                                              I've had the same experience, Brian. Unless I'm desperate, I usually steer clear of the steam table when the restaurant is empty.

                                              1. re: Brian S

                                                I tried Ghoroa a couple years ago. Luckily I dropped in late on a weekend afternoon when they appeared to be doing a bang-up catering business. I saw tons of freshly made food shoveled onto the steam table, and it didn't stay there long. An efficient crew of servers speedily parceled it out into to-go containers.

                                                Any walk-in customers who happened to be around - and there were plenty when I was there - were fed the same stuff straight from the kitchen. In addition, breads and some tandoor items were made to order. I don't recall exactly what I had, but a biryani of some kind was nicely spiced, as was seekh kabab. This is a bit out of my usual orbit, but I would take my chances there again.

                                                1. re: Brian S

                                                  You have to ask for mustard fish. Anything that's not on the tables can be requested; they never gave me an issue.

                                              2. A new contender... Kababish!! But only for one dish.

                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/440038

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: Brian S

                                                  How about the canteen at the Hindu Temple? The food there is absolutely delicious. http://www.nyganeshtemple.org/default...
                                                  http://events.nytimes.com/2007/04/04/...

                                                  There's also Dosa Hutt a few doors down, but the temple canteen, in my opinion (and I'm South Indian) is better.

                                                  1. re: scarlet starlet

                                                    Love Kebab King! Been going there forever without feeling the need for much change other than variety itself~

                                                    Dosa Hutt's really good~ but I've yet to try the Temple Canteen~
                                                    Sounds awesome!

                                                    Kerala Kitchen's cool.. but I seek out a Keralan cuisine which is based on the sea and the land.. this place has 75% meats for thier non-veg dishes.. Good food, but a bit disappointed with the menu.

                                                    So, call me a fool.. but I've yet to try Spicy Minas.. due to the praise here, I will be stopping in soon!~

                                                    1. re: scarlet starlet

                                                      Just tried the canteen this weekend. I'm not truly south indian, only half Maharastrian (though I did live in Madras as a kid) but thought the food was pretty good. Tho I thought the idli were terrible and the coconut chutney not very good. see my full review here:
                                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/449970

                                                      As a south indian, do you know of any place with better coconut chutney? I'm on a quest. For me, eating dosa and idli is all about the coconut chutney. I find the places here tend to make it from dried coconut, which makes it taste a little too bland and starchy. You lose that fresh flavor. Also, many of them don't add the fried urad dal as a flavoring. I didn't see any in the canteen's chutney.

                                                      Got any suggestions for me?

                                                      1. re: missmasala

                                                        "For me, eating dosa and idli is all about the coconut chutney."

                                                        me too! us ghatis obviously think similarly about these issues.

                                                    2. re: Brian S

                                                      I've found two more new contenders.

                                                      Deshi: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/447501

                                                      Kabab King: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/448517

                                                      1. re: Brian S

                                                        Agree that Deshi Biryani (above and here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/447501) is great, but found a new one, that may rival Deshi. It's called Mehfil, on 76th and 37th avenue in Jackson Heights. It's new, and was great: http://www.chow.com/places/39694

                                                        -----
                                                        Mehfil
                                                        76-05 37th Ave, Queens, NY 11372

                                                        1. re: amyeps

                                                          We agree: Mehfil is our new favorite. Not only are Mehfil's rice dishes top-notch, but the desserts are fabulous too!

                                                          1. re: James_and_Faye

                                                            I agree about Mehfil. And I hope the restaurant survives. I have free indian lunch 2x/week at work so I'm unlikely to want indian for dinner but the clean flavors of Mehfil changed my mind. Had a lovely lamb vindaloo, fresh real-vegetable jalfrezi, gobi naan, pakoras and a luscious milk and fruit dessert (gratis with the check) the other night. The space is simple and enjoyable and the staff/manager catered to us without being intrusive.

                                                    3. I find that great Indian food in Queens is to be found at any Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) because the food is free and openly available to anyone who comes by. The downside (for the same reasons) is that optimum quality of service is not to be expected. Members of the community prepare the food themselves (I've done it a few times, myself!) It's not a restaurant, then, but a community kitchen. But no doubt, the food is GREAT!

                                                      My favorite? Gurdwara Sikh Cultural Society: 95-30 118th Street in Richmond Hill. At one point, it was open 24/7, but not since 2002.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: romanusfatuus

                                                        so . . . non-sikhs or even non-members of a particular house of worship can just roll up?

                                                        1. re: bigjeff

                                                          i am pretty sure it works that way - i've had similar experiences w/ krishna temples....
                                                          of course expect for the congregants to strike up a conversation with you :)

                                                      2. Try Southern Spice on Bowne & 45th Avenue, Flushing.

                                                        -----
                                                        Southern Spice
                                                        1635 Hillside Ave, New Hyde Park, NY 11040