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Indian restaurants favored by Indians and Brits

We are looking for best Indian restaurants in Manhattan. If you are Indian or British, we need your opinion, please!

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  1. There really aren't any that I could honestly recommend in the city. There are many in Queens that are vastly better than anything I've found in London, though. I'm not Indian, but I was introduced to South Asian food while I was going out with a Bengali for over a year. If I can cook South Asian food better than a restaurant than I have no reason to go there. The NYC Indian restaurant industry is dominated by Bangladeshis (much like the London Indian restaurant industry) regardless of what region the restaurant claims to represent. For excellent South Asian food, there are a variety of locations in Queens, particularly those at Hillside/169th and in Jackson Heights which would allow you to feed a small country on $20. Talk to Howler on the UK boards if you're in doubt; he might know some higher class places that went under my radar. I've never had a good South Asian meal in Manhattan and I can't respect the prices or the service which they put forward. Why deal with it when you can have a near home cooked meal in an area where South Asians actually live and work? (not to mention that I think Ghoroa has better service than supposedly "high class" BDeshi run Indian joints in the city which have white table clothes and awful food. Maybe it's just because my friend and I are both friendly with all of the staff and we order in Bangla.)

    3 Replies
    1. re: JFores

      Appreciate the perspective. Some of the best south Asian in Manhattan is southern Indian. What do you think of Saravanaas, Chennai Garden, Tiffin Wallah?

      1. re: squid kun

        In my opinion, Chennai Garden is vastly underrated. They have dosas and curries as good or better than any other place downtown, and just about as good (much of the time) as FAR more expensive places (like Chola) on the east side. I used to favor Pongal, but I think they have have gone downhill because of financial problems ever since they opened Copper Chimney, an Anglo-diluted upscale rest hole.

        1. re: NYJewboy

          Perfect articulation of my opinion re: Chennai Garden and Pongol. Chennai Garden really does have some pretty good food.

    2. I am British and of Indian Punjabi origin - does my opinion count double :-) ?

      I can't say that I overall like any Manhattan Indian restaurants but I do like certain dishes at various places as follows:

      Pakistan Tea House (TriBeCa/Financial District) - dhaba (=roadside canteen) style. Good fresh nans, seekh kebabs (bit greasy) and one of the only places I've ever found Punjabi style khadi (=sour yoghurt based gravy = major comfort food great with rice in the wintertime).

      Lassi (Greenwich Avenue) - stuffed parathas and boondi raita, Punjabi staples again not often found in restaurants. Don't think that their other dishes are worth bothering with apart maybe from the rajmah chawal (more comfort food). Chef is American, learned how to make the dishes from a Punjabi woman she met while working at Union Square Cafe I believe.

      Bukhara Grill (E49th St) - dhal makhani (butter lentils pure cholesterol :-)) and tandoori mushrooms.

      Salaam Bombay (TriBeCa) - buffet lunches but some surprisingly good dishes. Trick is to tuck into the freshly prepared (and less oil laden) dishes and insist on them making you fresh nan or roti.

      Saravanaas (Lex + 26th). South Indian. Rava masala dosa, utthapam, bagalabath, vada, idli, sambhar. Also on the menu = aloo poori and channa batura - although I haven't actually tried these items, I would be tempted to.

      Bread Bar (part of Tabla). Lamb and mashed potato "naanini". Bastardised Indian food and essentially an expensive sandwich but very good.

      Never found any reliable chaat houses in Manhattan although didn't search particularly hard.

      8 Replies
      1. re: oonth

        I also love Saravanaas.

        Has anyone else tried the lunch buffet at the new SpiceFusuion on 8th Ave @ 47th/48th? I think it's pretty good, especially for the West Side.

        (But I'm neither British nor Indian, so take whatever I say with a grain of garam masala)

        1. re: oonth

          I've always liked Pakistani Teahouse, but I also regarded it more or less as a place to go after kendo practice or very late at night. The nans are good, but I don't like their seekh kebabs at all. Ghoroa's blow them out of the. The meat they use is rather grissly at PT. I never tried their khadi though. Is it like curds?

          1. re: JFores

            Yep wouldn't disagree, it's a quick fix off hours kind of place. Come to think of it, I only ever tried and liked (rather than loved) their chicken seekh kebabs so can't comment on their mutton ones. I must try and get out to Ghoroa on a future NYC visit (although there will be many other places vying for visits/revisits). The reason I ate at PTH so many times is that my parents really liked it on their visits from the UK and one of the reasons they liked it so much is because of items like khadi (and the fact that dhabas are very evocative for them). It's not on everyday but it is definitely worth trying. Curds are the main ingredient, google and you can find some recipes.

            1. re: oonth

              Interesting. I'll check it out. I've tried both of their seekh kebabs and I wasn't very happy with either. I generally got chicken jalfreezi when I went though which is not a dish I usually like, but they did it nicely enough. Do you know any good Punjabi alternatives in the five boroughs? Same for London if you want to post a suggestion on the London board aside from the gurdwara which I'm going to the next time I hit Southall (I found a friend that regularly goes to it too!)

              1. re: JFores

                Howler once suggested a place called Five Star Punjabi Diner in LIC but I never made it there. I think that you can find some info on the Outer Boroughs board.

                Tell you the truth, I rarely if ever go looking for Punjabi food because I can get great stuff whenever I go home, my mum cooks with a wonderfully light and deft touch not to mention quite a bit of imagination and invention. You should start off with the gurdwara and Tayyabs (Pakistani Punjabi) and I'll see what other places come to mind. Gaylord on Mortimer Street is a restaurant specialising in North Indian food, used to be a real favourite of my dad's, not sure of current quality and on the more expensive end of the scale. And actually for seekh kebabs in London, we favour this Iranian supermarket place down in Kingston, I'll post some more details on the London board.

                1. re: oonth

                  Gaylord's? Really? I laugh at how much I would expect that place to be unauthentic as I pass it every single day on the way to uni. How much are they there?

                  1. re: JFores

                    I think Gaylord's is an international chain. I went to one in Bombay.

          2. re: oonth

            I've often wondered why Bukhara Grill dos not get more mention. It is very good Indian food, IMO.

          3. In Manhattan, I vote for Madras Mahal for South Indian, Devi for modern Indian (it's not fusion), and Brick Lane Curry House or Angon on the Sixth for North Indian.

            In Queens, I vote for the Hindu Temple's Canteen - hands down the best South Indian food in the city.

            3 Replies
            1. re: scarlet starlet

              I held off a spot of Devi bashing in my previous post but I hate to see it being recommended so frequently on this board. The aubergine dish they served me on my one and only visit there was an abomination and the other dishes (manchurian cauliflower, nan) were adequate at best. I know people tend to recommend the meat dishes but any Indian restaurant (tandoori houses excepted maybe) that can't do vegetarian preparations well isn't worth bothering with in my book. I would call it dumbed down rather than modern Indian.

              1. re: oonth

                I'm so used to Bengali places that I base my entire judgement on their mustard fish or hilsa.

                1. re: JFores

                  Fair enough, I don't know much about Bengali food. Punjabi food involves some river fish and Amritsari fish is a renowned dish. And Punjabi food involves some tandoori and meat dishes but predominantly it's a veggie cuisine. Not sure what the current stat is but my guess is that 80% of Indians in India are still vegetarians.

            2. Most definately Bukhara Grill...this spot gets the most praise from my Indian colleagues.

              1. A Brit friend of mind swears by Surya in the West Village. Is he onto something or out of his mind?

                6 Replies
                1. re: billyeats

                  Surya is great. Definitely worth a try. Full disclosure: I'm neither English nor Indian; however, the proprietors of Surya are Gujarati, and one, Raj, is a vegetarian (to oonth's point).

                  1. re: billyeats

                    Surya has an excellent weekend brunch buffet. At other times, it's just too expensive.

                    1. re: Nina_P

                      Dinner is expensive, but the lunch deal is great... around $8 I think.

                    2. re: billyeats

                      my one trip to surya was a huge disappointment. sauce was lovely with loads of curry leaves, but the chicken was like bland cubes of soulless chicken injected with rubber and plastic or something.

                      1. re: billyeats

                        Surya was very good in '04 and '05. Then something happened. I don't know what it was, but their food is nowhere near as good as it used to be. The prices continue to go up, though....

                      2. There are lots of South Asians at Devi.

                        1. Brick Lane on 6th St. has always had a couple of tables of British diners the 4 times I've been there. It's a solid B in a city filled with Cs.

                          1. If you like Gujarati food, Sukhadia's in midtown (40s between 5th and 6th) is pretty good, esp. for lunch. Chaat are excellent -- and of course, they're known for sweets.

                            1. I'm neither, but I like Swagat on the UWS.

                              1. With the exception of Chola, Salaam Bombay, Yuva, Bricklane, Copper Chimney & Earthen Oven, the Indian reviewers at NYIndia are critical of most Indian restaurants in NYC.

                                Here's the link - http://www.nyindia.us/restaurants.html

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bbash

                                  That's pretty heavily skewed towards north Indian.

                                2. Banjara for the standard N. Indian, Dimple for Gujurati, and Tiffin Wallah for South Indian are all excellent, authentic choices...

                                  1. I haven't been to Jewel of India in a while, but one of my Indian friends tell me that Indians like to go there on special occasions. Perhaps it has something to do with being advertised on Desi TV.