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Please Update Me on Curry Hill South Indian Options

Jim Leff Mar 7, 2008 05:03 AM

Can anyone intimately acquainted with the south-indian places in curry hill please update me? Are Tiffin Wallah, Chennai Garden, Pongal, and Saravanaas still the quality choices, and are they still up to snuff? Any new openings?

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  1. wleatherette RE: Jim Leff Mar 7, 2008 05:59 AM

    our dinner at tiffin wallah last week was generally very good. pondicherry masala dosa (available on weekends only, i think) and a fried vegetable app (bajjia) were delicious. uttapam was less so, but still acceptable. on a previous visit, we really enjoyed the bhel puri, samosa chat, and undhiyu (from the gujarati curries section). our main complaint is that the chutneys/pickles are commercial stuff, and not even very good stuff at that.

    1. a_and_w RE: Jim Leff Mar 7, 2008 07:26 AM

      Pongal has gone way downhill. Saravanaas, which I visited again on a recent trip, is going strong and probably your best bet. Still haven't tried Tiffin Wallah but I hear great things.

      BTW, I don't know if you've tried Roomali, but it's an absolute must if you're in the area. Their chicken tikka rolls are one of the things I miss most about Manhattan...

      7 Replies
      1. re: a_and_w
        wleatherette RE: a_and_w Mar 7, 2008 07:31 AM

        just had an aloo chana roll from roomali a few weeks ago. great stuff.

        1. re: wleatherette
          p
          Produce Addict RE: wleatherette Mar 13, 2008 05:32 AM

          I've never heard of Roomali. Does it serve kati rolls?

          1. re: Produce Addict
            a_and_w RE: Produce Addict Mar 13, 2008 07:58 AM

            Yep, but they call them roomali rolls, which seem to be the same thing.

            1. re: a_and_w
              p
              Produce Addict RE: a_and_w Mar 13, 2008 10:55 AM

              Sounds great. I'll check it out. And for anyone reading along it looks liek they are located on Lex bt 27th and 28th: 97 Lexington Ave, (212) 679-8900

              1. re: Produce Addict
                a_and_w RE: Produce Addict Mar 13, 2008 11:29 AM

                The entrance is actually on 27th, just east of Lex.

            2. re: Produce Addict
              h
              heWho RE: Produce Addict Mar 27, 2009 01:57 PM

              Roomali's rolls are pretty good, but they just don't stack up to Kati Roll. Especially the chicken tikka which is where Kati Roll really shines

              1. re: heWho
                a_and_w RE: heWho May 4, 2009 12:24 PM

                Disagree -- I find the chicken is more moist and flavorful at Roomali. Plus the egg comes standard at Roomali, which I like. That said, I've made a LOT of stops at Kati Roll Co. during my recent visits LOL!

        2. j
          josh L RE: Jim Leff Mar 12, 2008 09:00 AM

          jim,

          what's the word these days? by far, saravanas is the best location for southern vegetarian on curry hill and the rest of new york for that matter. everything from the south indian chutneys, vegetable dishes to the dosas are meticulously prepared by the "master chefs" who have been trained for many years under the supervision of the hotel saravana bhavan. enjoy.

          10 Replies
          1. re: josh L
            sing me a bar RE: josh L Mar 12, 2008 11:33 AM

            Isn't there someplace in the same league that isn't vegetarian? Please not a minimalist fusion place, just serious authentic Indian?

            1. re: sing me a bar
              u
              umisquirrel RE: sing me a bar Mar 13, 2008 06:37 AM

              South Indian food is vegetarian.
              I think that the South Indian restauarnts in Curry Hill are much better than the northern, but I would suggest that you try Haandi, Roomali, and Curry in a Hurry (tandoori chicken is pretty good).

              1. re: umisquirrel
                c
                cimui RE: umisquirrel Mar 13, 2008 07:24 PM

                I completely agree that s. Indian is much better than n. Indian in the area around Lexington and 29th or so.

                My understanding, though, is that traditionally upper caste Hindu south Indian is vegetarian, while lower caste and non-Hindu is not. Heavily Christian areas like Kerala on the southwest tip of India have a long tradition of eating fish and other meat.

                I've only had Curry in a Hurry once and that was by delivery -- but IMHO it is dreadful.

                1. re: cimui
                  tatamagouche RE: cimui Mar 16, 2008 07:19 AM

                  So if one shouldn't necessarily hit Curry Hill for N Indian, what neighborhood *should* one hit? We're in town for just a few days and are going to aim for Indian on Mon.

                  IIRC there was once an Indian Row very near NYU, but I don't have strong memories of any of the places I actually visited.

                  1. re: tatamagouche
                    l
                    Lau RE: tatamagouche Mar 16, 2008 02:47 PM

                    its still there, but i think consensus is that most of the places are pretty bad (i agree with that)....generally most of the places are run by bengali people as well not indians

                    1. re: tatamagouche
                      c
                      cimui RE: tatamagouche Mar 16, 2008 02:51 PM

                      Hi tatamagouche, I don't know of any areas in the city with a high density of good n. Indian restaurants. But some of the better restaurants that serve n. Indian include Earthen Oven (tandoori), Chola, and Sukhadia's (Gujarati; they do chaat & sweets best).

                      I think the area near NYU that you're thinking of is probably "curry row" around E. 6th St. The food on curry row is generally pretty atrocious.

                      If you want good north Indian and don't mind travelling a bit, head to Jackson Heights in Queens. It's not too bad of a subway ride. You might want to post on the outer boroughs board for suggestions.

                      Hope you have a good stay. :)

                      1. re: cimui
                        c
                        cimui RE: cimui Mar 16, 2008 02:54 PM

                        Here are the chowhound links with addresses.

                        -----
                        Earthen Oven
                        53 W 72nd St, New York, NY 10023

                        Chola
                        232 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

                        Sukhadia's
                        17 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036

                        1. re: cimui
                          tatamagouche RE: cimui Mar 14, 2010 06:26 AM

                          Somehow I never did respond to this thread, cimui, but literally two years later, here it is again, and I must've heeded you, b/c we went to Chola, and it was excellent!

                        2. re: cimui
                          l
                          Lau RE: cimui Mar 16, 2008 03:11 PM

                          sukhadia is a good suggestion, but im biased b/c i love chaat

                    2. re: umisquirrel
                      d
                      dm123 RE: umisquirrel Apr 24, 2008 09:15 PM

                      by the way, South Indian food is not always vegetarian. There's plenty of non-vegetarian dishes that are amazing. Whether or not any restaurants in the city make them, I don't know.

                2. d
                  Dave Feldman RE: Jim Leff Mar 13, 2008 12:48 PM

                  The last two times I've been to Chennai Garden (the last time a couple of months ago), it was better than ever. I think Tiffin Wallah helped put a fire under them. Right now, I'd rate them Saravannaas, Chennai Garden, Tiffin Wallah, and Pongal. But on any given night, I don't think there's that much to choose among the top 3.

                  I find the atmosphere at Tiffin Wallah to be the most fun -- the waiters seem to be enjoying working there. Saravanaas is more professional and more rushed, so I find myself eating at CG and TW more even though I think the food might have a very slight edge at S.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Dave Feldman
                    c
                    cimui RE: Dave Feldman Mar 13, 2008 07:30 PM

                    I agree with Dave about Chennai Garden and Saravannaas. Inspired in part by this post, I went back to Saravannaas last weekend and Chennai Garden early this week. I liked Chennai Garden much better, in part because I think they've perfected the art of the very thin, almost greaseless paper dosai, I like their style of sambar better, and I like their bhindi.

                    Haven't tried Pongol recently, but yes, the last time I tried (more than a year ago, I think... wow, time flies when you're getting old), I remember walking away thinking that it had gone way downhill. I really ought to give it another go, soon.

                    1. re: cimui
                      1
                      10yrresident RE: cimui Mar 13, 2008 07:37 PM

                      I, too, went back to Chennai Garden early this week and had a great meal. Pongal--last went 2 years ago, totally mediocre.

                  2. s
                    sugartoof RE: Jim Leff Mar 14, 2008 01:57 AM

                    Saravanaas is really the only reliable one of the bunch now.

                    The rest are interchangeable, and my theory is it depends on the night you go, and how fresh the particular dish you're ordering might be at that moment.

                    I haven't been back to the others, but Tiffin Wallah didn't taste like anything special to me. It gets boring when every order on your plate has the same flavor. I didn't have the dosas though, and from the pics, they do seem like they might redeem the place.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: sugartoof
                      t
                      tracyw19 RE: sugartoof Mar 19, 2008 03:34 PM

                      Has anyone ever been to Curry Leaf? I really like their Malai Kofta. Whats the best thing to order at Saravanaas? I've always wanted to go, but I go to Indian alone and am a bit overwhlemed!

                      1. re: tracyw19
                        s
                        sugartoof RE: tracyw19 Mar 19, 2008 04:29 PM

                        If you can sneak out during the day, they have a lunch special combo kinda thing, and I've never seen it all that crowded (as opposed to the lines for brunch, and packed house at dinners). Otherwise, anything Dosa would be safe!

                        1. re: sugartoof
                          h
                          HHH RE: sugartoof Mar 20, 2008 10:10 AM

                          I just went to Saravannaas for lunch, and was really impressed by the quality. I had the "mini tiffin" for $9, and it was very filling, and a good way to sample a few different dishes. I got a dosa, two kinds of chutney, a vegetable dish, a grain and a sweet. I always thought you had to go to Jersey City, Edison, NJ etc. to get great Indian food, and here it is, walking distance from my office!

                          1. re: HHH
                            l
                            Lau RE: HHH Mar 20, 2008 12:16 PM

                            I think saravannas is a really outstanding restaurant...very much reminds we of some of the tamil places i used to go in singapore

                            1. re: Lau
                              p
                              Pan RE: Lau Apr 11, 2008 02:29 PM

                              They may even have a branch in Singapore. I remember looking at the list of branches, which I think is outside their front door, and I do remember that one of them is in Kuala Lumpur. I agree with you about Saravanaas and will not hesitate to take a visiting Malay friend there when he's in town this June. I think he will be satisfied, and of course, vegetarian food - under kosher supervision, yet - is halal, so he can eat it with confidence.

                              1. re: Pan
                                l
                                Lau RE: Pan Apr 13, 2008 09:46 PM

                                i believe you're right, i think they do have a singapore branch (i used to hit komalas vilas in singapore in the little india branch...amazing)

                        2. re: tracyw19
                          a_and_w RE: tracyw19 Mar 20, 2008 08:21 AM

                          I used to order delivery from Curry Leaf regularly. It was always solid. I believe they're owned by the same people who own Kalyustans, though for some reason the samosas always taste better at the store.

                      2. Brian S RE: Jim Leff Mar 16, 2008 10:42 AM

                        The new hotspot for South Indian food, both veg and non-veg, is Jersey City!
                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/25230...

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Brian S
                          s
                          sugartoof RE: Brian S Mar 16, 2008 01:52 PM

                          I think Jersey as a whole has superior Indian, and Pakistani food. When they have their respective parades and food fairs in manhattan, the best booths are always from Jersey by far.

                          1. re: sugartoof
                            a_and_w RE: sugartoof Mar 20, 2008 09:39 AM

                            This is what my Indian friends always told me. I'm still pissed I missed the opportunity participate in a tasting arranged by one such friend -- and she lived in Queens. If you have the chance to explore NJ Indian, I'd take it.

                        2. c
                          ChiquitaBanana RE: Jim Leff Mar 20, 2008 10:10 AM

                          I would recommend trying Banana Leaf. I think it's a little better than Curry Leaf, and more like the Indian places in the East Village (which tend to be better than Curry Hill). On that note, Raj Mahal on E. 6th is a great place to go too.

                          1. f
                            foodshark73 RE: Jim Leff Mar 27, 2008 07:32 AM

                            Out of the restaurants we're talking about, does one have a (weekday) lunch buffet that stands out?

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: foodshark73
                              Jim Leff RE: foodshark73 Mar 27, 2008 09:35 AM

                              South Indian does not lend itself to buffets. Stuff like iddli, vada, dosa, utthapam can't sit for even a few minutes, and rice-heavy veg entrees are also poor candidates for steam tables.

                              1. re: Jim Leff
                                d
                                Dave Feldman RE: Jim Leff Mar 27, 2008 10:49 PM

                                I have been to a couple of South Indian buffets that had a dosa station (like an omelet station) and vada are OK if smothered in rasam or yogurt sauce (think: matzo balls and soup). I've never seen one with iddli or uttapham or, heaven forfend, dosa sitting around.

                              2. re: foodshark73
                                Miss Needle RE: foodshark73 Mar 27, 2008 09:51 AM

                                Not in Curry Hill, but I think one of the best Indian buffets is probably Chola. They serve both N. Indian and S. Indian food. Jim Leff is right that a lot of S. Indian doesn't sit well. The heaviness and fat in N. Indian food makes it hold up better at steam tables. But Chola makes their dosas and serves it tableside so it stays nice and crispy. They also serve chaat tableside as well. And the lunch buffet is available 7 days a week.

                                1. re: Miss Needle
                                  vvvindaloo RE: Miss Needle Apr 11, 2008 03:18 PM

                                  Agreed. No one comes close to Chola for lunch buffet, in both quality and variety. However, it is not South Indian.

                                  1. re: vvvindaloo
                                    Miss Needle RE: vvvindaloo Apr 11, 2008 03:24 PM

                                    Not South Indian, but they have a small selection of South Indian dishes at their buffet like masala dosa, sambar, coconut chutney, idly and those vegetable pancakes (don't know what they're called). I think Chola is a good compromise if you've got a group of meat-eaters and vegetarians.

                                    1. re: Miss Needle
                                      p
                                      Pan RE: Miss Needle Apr 11, 2008 04:26 PM

                                      Chola was an ancient Southern Indian kingdom. It's kind of odd if it's not a South Indian restaurant.

                                      1. re: Pan
                                        Miss Needle RE: Pan Apr 11, 2008 04:33 PM

                                        They really serve both N and S Indian on the menu. In addition to the S. Indian stuff they serve things like vindaloo and tandoori. The buffet also tends to be a mix as well. Interesting thing about the name. I'll bet it started out as a S. Indian place. But I think they serve the N Indian stuff because that's what most people expect when they go to an "Indian" restaurant.

                                        1. re: Miss Needle
                                          p
                                          Pan RE: Miss Needle Apr 11, 2008 05:26 PM

                                          That has a ring of truth to me. Most non-Indians doubtless think of North Indian and Anglo-Indian items first. Vindaloo is originally a Goan dish, but the old Goan style is not very similar to the North Indian/Anglo-Indian style. And of course Chicken Tikka Masala, which I understand was created by an Indian chef in London.

                                        2. re: Pan
                                          Brian S RE: Pan Apr 11, 2008 05:35 PM

                                          Chola bronzes were one of the apogees of Indian art (and Hindu art) so the name might be used by non-southerners.

                                  2. re: foodshark73
                                    a
                                    alc RE: foodshark73 Apr 11, 2008 05:26 PM

                                    I have enjoyed the buffets at Madras Mahal on Lexington at 27th and at Chennai Garden on 27th between Park and Lex..

                                    Uptown, Chennai on First Ave. between 86th and 87th has a wonderful buffet.

                                    1. re: foodshark73
                                      bigjeff RE: foodshark73 Apr 11, 2008 10:37 PM

                                      tiffin wallah's the joint at $6 (or is it $7?). lots of turnover, lines out the door, and they only offer about 5 or 6 dishes at most, so its quite good.

                                    2. ballulah RE: Jim Leff Apr 11, 2008 11:22 AM

                                      This thread made me remember my latent craving for Indian food and order some for lunch today. When Tiffin Wallah first opened they didn't have a delivery service, and it's just a hair too far away from my office for convenience, so I never got around to trying it. After reading this thread I checked if their delivery service had finally started up, and they had!

                                      I ordered the lunch special, $6 for the buffet, or for delivery. I had a yellow lentil curry of some kind, with lots of black mustard seeds, and spinach, eggplant, potato, onion curry of another kind. It came with white fluffy basmati rice, and delicious bright red rice with bits of unidentifiable good stuff (onions, something else and something else, and black mustard seeds)...and a generous helping of two kinds of bread. And a salad. And a small dessert. For $6. Everything was absolutely delicious. And it got me out of my comfort zone, as I tend to order the same things over and over.

                                      I'm not sure if my enjoyment wasn't colored just a little bit by the fact that it was so darned cheap, and maybe it was, but even so, if you have $6 in your pocket and are passing by, you can't ask for a better lunch. Excuse me while I go off to enjoy my food coma.

                                      -----
                                      Tiffin Wallah
                                      127 E 28th St, New York, NY 10016

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: ballulah
                                        TongoRad RE: ballulah Apr 11, 2008 11:31 AM

                                        So they delivered a little bit of everything from the buffet? Very interesting...I'll have to keep that in mind. Thanks.

                                        I do like going there, though, because the sambar is the best in the nabe and I enjoy going back for seconds on that one. Very good value, indeed.

                                        1. re: TongoRad
                                          s
                                          sugartoof RE: TongoRad Apr 12, 2008 05:10 AM

                                          i did takeout from the buffet and they basically let me just smash what i could into the tin, and run hahah. they gave me a thing of tin foil for the bread and another sheet for something else. I got it all home and really didn't even want to finish what I had....everything tasted second rate, same-ish.

                                          1. re: sugartoof
                                            Jim Leff RE: sugartoof Apr 12, 2008 08:18 AM

                                            You're talking about tiffin wallah, right?

                                            I'd imagine a sameness under those circumstances...buffet fare smashed and eaten fast out of tin. South Indian food is about subtle variations on sort of monolithic themes (black mustard seediness, slightly fermented lentil batters, etc). That treatment was kind of guaranteed to underscore that commonality.

                                            1. re: Jim Leff
                                              a
                                              anil RE: Jim Leff Apr 12, 2008 08:52 AM

                                              South Indian food is quite varied it texture and flavour. To go beyond the dosas,idli,vada,uttapham (which essentially are considered quick bites) is to experience the cooking styles of Kerela,Konkan and meat dishes of tamil nadu. Having said that, the two sri-lankan in manhattan that have some of the dishes similar to kerela are Nirvana and Sigri.

                                              1. re: anil
                                                bigjeff RE: anil Apr 12, 2008 08:58 AM

                                                intriguing. where are these two places? additional thoughts on the two?

                                                1. re: bigjeff
                                                  wleatherette RE: bigjeff Apr 14, 2008 07:08 AM

                                                  nirvana is on 3rd ave @ 19th st, i think, and sigiri is on 1st ave between 5th and 6th (second floor, in the midst of the cheap indian joints).

                                                2. re: anil
                                                  Jim Leff RE: anil Apr 12, 2008 10:35 AM

                                                  I'm sorry if it seemed like I was saying the cuisine is monotonous. I didn't mean that at all! Just that squashing up a bunch of stuff in a tin would tend to highlight the common qualities.

                                        2. n
                                          nigella sativa RE: Jim Leff Apr 11, 2008 04:36 PM

                                          The word is....BREAKFAST at Saravanas. It's great. Another fact to consider is that Chennai Garden and Tiffin Wallah have the same owner. The guy with the floppy hair.

                                          1. bigjeff RE: Jim Leff May 26, 2008 05:22 PM

                                            wanting to stop in for a late lunch on sunday, many of the restaraurants in the area were actually packed, which was awesome. lines out the door for saravanaas so I didn't want to bother going, tiffin wallah was actually packed too (no buffet on weekends) and after walking back and forth from a couple of diff. restaurant and peeking in (bollywood masala's buffet looked really bad, madras mahal had a weekend brunch but it seemed a bit dreary inside) we ended up at chennai garden and had a very nice lunch. the rava masala dosa was deliciously crisp, the bhel puri decent but not outstanding (is it really supposed to be just masala mix topped with wet stuff?), the okra curry nice, the weekend special of uppadam (cream of wheat drowning in ghee) delicious but too heavy to eat more than a spoonful and the pea paratha bland, but nice. the sambar were both nice and I'd go back to try a selection of dosa instead of the other stuff. I thought both chennai garden and tiffin wallah were the same owners? maybe not; nice interior, a little dark; I'd definitely try to get the two sunlit tables at the front of the restaurant if possible. fast, speedy service and very nice food, I'd go again for sure. good thing we took a long walk after the meal though; like other times I've had south asian, you don't eat a lot of food but it's quite rich so you feel it.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: bigjeff
                                              n
                                              nigella sativa RE: bigjeff Feb 25, 2009 08:15 AM

                                              But Tiffin Wallah owner told me he owns Chennai! That was about a year ago--it's possible he's sold it. If it's all about the decor well apparently TW was a new concept / high concept spin-off restaurant of chennai. Regardless, he seems to be struggling. Soundtrack no longer hip and no line at lunch. My guess this could be due to competition from the newer (also "high-concept") "Dhaba" around the corner. I stopped in for buffet two days in a row after an absense of a year. Many of the dishes were to heavy on fat but still had more clarity of flavor than you find at most buffets or Indian restaurants in general. I still love this place even though I prefer the subzi at the sikh hole in the wall on the north east side of 29th street.

                                              1. re: nigella sativa
                                                n
                                                nigella sativa RE: nigella sativa Mar 27, 2009 12:43 PM

                                                Sikh/Punjabi place (Curry Express???) is still a bargain but caution advised:
                                                The staff is quite nice here and while still an amazing value for the block--less than 5 dollars for vegetarian thalli--the quality has been a little uneven last two tries--at least for vegetarian options. Nevertheless, some of the subzies at this place are really, really good; of a quality not found too often even at the 'table cloth establishments"! Today there was a dull chenna curry offered which was just mashed up chenna in an otherwise unexciting tomato/onion gravy. It was little eye appeal + it was rather bland and the texture was too 'broken-down'. My main choices were the mixed vege which was good although marred by too many soggy frozen carrots and oily pieces of sauteed onion, shagg with chickpeas which was fantastico--not too oily and interestingly seasoned with heat and more than a hint of cloves in the garm mix--and, okra. I should have known better than to ask for okra which looked a little sad and was held in a smaller pan on the steam table. Can't comment on the non-vegtarian offereings but I would suggest limiting your choices to what is in the large pans in the vegetarian section of the steam table and avoiding anything that looks like it might have been reheated.

                                            2. alwayscooking RE: Jim Leff May 1, 2009 02:49 PM

                                              I did my research here on CH and choose Saravanaas for the single south Indian meal I'd have during a 48 hour trip this week from Boston I typically love this cusine and looked forward to going to a truly excellent meal given the size of NYC (we have but a single decent place that I've found here in Boston). If this is the best in Murray Hill or NYC, then something is seriously wrong - it was simply terrible mash.

                                              My full review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/616404

                                              Better to come to Boston to eat.

                                              27 Replies
                                              1. re: alwayscooking
                                                a_and_w RE: alwayscooking May 4, 2009 12:26 PM

                                                I'm so sorry your experience was negative -- maybe you got unlucky? I ate a lot of Indian food in Boston/Cambridge and never found anything remotely comparable to Sarvanaas.

                                                PS: Just to clarify, are you familiar with South Indian cuisine, which is quite different from the North Indian curries most people have tried?

                                                1. re: alwayscooking
                                                  Ike RE: alwayscooking May 14, 2009 05:04 PM

                                                  I also had an underwhelming experience at Saravanaas a few months ago with one of the thalis. I think it was a Monday or Tuesday so maybe the regular chef wasn't in, or maybe they were having an off night, but I've had better, brighter-tasting, more flavorful south Indian food elsewhere.

                                                  1. re: Ike
                                                    p
                                                    Pan RE: Ike May 14, 2009 06:19 PM

                                                    Other people have posted similarly: That the strength of Saravanaas is really the masala dosas (I also love the utthapams and some of the desserts). Whose thalis do you like best?

                                                    1. re: Pan
                                                      bigjeff RE: Pan May 14, 2009 08:01 PM

                                                      they slippin!

                                                      1. re: bigjeff
                                                        p
                                                        Pan RE: bigjeff May 14, 2009 10:26 PM

                                                        What is slipping? The thalis or the utthapams/masala dosas? And which places do the best Madrasi thalis?

                                                        1. re: Pan
                                                          bigjeff RE: Pan May 15, 2009 04:12 PM

                                                          used to love eating there for dosas but branched out for some thalis and didn't like it; I like to go to chennai gardens these days (like dave F below). never found a seriously good thali anywhere; often the one at saravanaas was like eating birds eye vegetables in slightly different sauces, and not much more beyond that.

                                                          1. re: bigjeff
                                                            p
                                                            Pan RE: bigjeff May 15, 2009 09:56 PM

                                                            I guess it may be time for me to go back to Chennai Garden. I went there a couple of years ago and thought it was quite good but have been liking Saravanaas more.

                                                            1. re: Pan
                                                              d
                                                              Dave Feldman RE: Pan May 15, 2009 10:47 PM

                                                              Chennai Garden goes back and forth, depending on who is in the kitchen. Generally speaking, if dishes come out one at a time, it's a good sign at CG.

                                                              1. re: Dave Feldman
                                                                p
                                                                Pan RE: Dave Feldman May 16, 2009 01:12 AM

                                                                Dave:

                                                                Which of the South Indian places in Curry Hill do you find most consistent?

                                                                1. re: Pan
                                                                  d
                                                                  Dave Feldman RE: Pan May 19, 2009 02:17 AM

                                                                  I haven't been exploring much lately. Most of my friends don't like Saravanaas, so I usually alternate between Chennai Garden and Tiffin Wallah. I think Chennai has really improved in the last six months. I'm a fan of Dhaba, too, especially for vegetarian and lamb dishes, but it's not Southern.

                                                            2. re: bigjeff
                                                              Ike RE: bigjeff May 24, 2009 04:30 PM

                                                              "...like eating birds eye vegetables in slightly different sauces, and not much more beyond that." Yes, yes, that's it *exactly*! You have described it better than I could.

                                                              1. re: Ike
                                                                bigjeff RE: Ike Jul 14, 2009 11:10 PM

                                                                just ate the south indian thali at saravanaas ($16.95) the most expensive of the 4 although the mini tiffin looked good (had a masala mini dosa) but man, I think I'm just not cut out for thali. while not birds eye, the 12 or so little dishes were nice, interesting, but in the end, all the same again. I'm just gonna stick with the dosas here, and get my indian fix in JH unless something else in curry hill can pull me back.

                                                        2. re: Pan
                                                          d
                                                          Dave Feldman RE: Pan May 15, 2009 12:08 AM

                                                          I don't eat at Saravanaas as much as I used to, not so much because the food has declined, but because the vibe just isn't that friendly or relaxed. But there are plenty of better places for dosas -- I think the cooked vegetables are the relative strong point. I tend to eat onion rava dosas, and right now Chennai Garden has bounced back and has terrific rava dosas, dosa podi, and sometimes, great sambar. The cooked vegetable dishes tend to be a little hit and miss.

                                                          1. re: Dave Feldman
                                                            bigjeff RE: Dave Feldman Jul 14, 2009 11:12 PM

                                                            dave, the service is so bad there! they have crowds, they have lines but they manage to sit people rather quickly. but once you sit, the comedy begins of getting silverware, getting a waiter, getting some water, getting a menu, ordering, flagging down someone to ask on the order, finally getting the other, and all the time, there are tons of busboys and servers flying, they are just extremely disorganized. if they stepped up the service, they would do way better.

                                                            this was a thursday night, btw.

                                                            1. re: bigjeff
                                                              d
                                                              Dave Feldman RE: bigjeff Jul 15, 2009 01:10 AM

                                                              You're talking about Chennai Garden? Gee, I've never had to to wait there, even during prime times on weekends. In my experience, Saravanaas is much more crowded and harried. Right now, my heart belongs to Dosa House (not Dosa Hut) in Jersey City. I think it blows away anything in Manhattan or Queens for South Indian.

                                                              It sounds like the thali has gone downhill at Saravnaas, which is a shame

                                                              1. re: Dave Feldman
                                                                bigjeff RE: Dave Feldman Jul 15, 2009 07:10 AM

                                                                sorry, that whole comment was for saravanaas, not chennai garden. chennai garden has their service better and ya, pretty chill meals. saravanaas just feels a little hectic.

                                                                1. re: bigjeff
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                                                                  Dave Feldman RE: bigjeff Jul 17, 2009 02:30 PM

                                                                  I think the waiters are very focused on turning tables at Saravanaas, and I think it makes the place seem cold and impersonal. There was a time when I felt the food was better there than at Chennai or Tiffin Wallah, and I still ate more at those two places, for this very reason.

                                                                  1. re: Dave Feldman
                                                                    a
                                                                    anil RE: Dave Feldman Jul 17, 2009 06:08 PM

                                                                    Saravanaas Bhavan has alway been a bit tight on spacing of tables and a bit rushed. Nothing new given the same kind of rhythm in their original location in Chennai, India and New Delhi, India.

                                                                    If you want to have a slightly more relaxed and chilled environment: Go early (around noon - 12:30) during the weekend to Chennai Garden, sit by the window and read you newspaper at leisure and enjoy the dosas and uttapams.

                                                                    1. re: Dave Feldman
                                                                      c
                                                                      cimui RE: Dave Feldman Jul 17, 2009 07:08 PM

                                                                      Hmm, I'm not even sure it's about turning tables, since people are happy to let you languish after a meal, as well as before. It seems to me just highly disorganized. It might also have something to do with the fact that customers seat themselves, so it's probably hard for waiters to keep track of what's going on at each table.

                                                                      1. re: cimui
                                                                        bigjeff RE: cimui Jul 18, 2009 11:59 AM

                                                                        ya it's not rushed so much as a lotta lag and downtime; however, we have always been seated there by someone, never seat yourself. to be clear, this is the big one on the corner, bright airy room yes?

                                                                        1. re: bigjeff
                                                                          s
                                                                          sugartoof RE: bigjeff Jul 18, 2009 02:08 PM

                                                                          I think the busy atmosphere usually results in them seeming reluctant to take orders reluctantly, or practically throwing the food on the table in a rush....but the real chaos ensues when they hand you a menu and then stand there expecting you to order without reading it...or you can't get their attention to request something.... or you just want to pay the bill and leave, and they're running up and down the aisles without making eye contact.

                                                                          1. re: sugartoof
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                                                                            cimui RE: sugartoof Jul 18, 2009 08:53 PM

                                                                            yeah, that used to frustrate me, too (particularly the bit where you're trying to get your check and no eye contact can be made anywhere). i've learned a trick from my more forward indian relatives, though: just snag someone's arm as they walk by. cling tightly. eventually they'll pay attention. ;)

                                                                            i don't know they if expect you to order without reading it, though. i've noticed in a lot of indian restaurants, waiters stand around patiently until you've perused the menu and decided on your order (which can guilt trip me into ordering without reading, for sure... always have my handy dandy masala dosa fallback) -- unless you ask them for five minutes alone.

                                                                          2. re: bigjeff
                                                                            c
                                                                            cimui RE: bigjeff Jul 18, 2009 08:48 PM

                                                                            yep, that's the one i'm talking about.... uh oh, hopefully we're not not violating protocol horribly. for some reason, i don't think i've ever even seen a host or hostess. our usual method is to walk into the room slightly, catch someone's eye (usually a busser) and ask: "ok if we sit here?" we snag any open table (or sometimes just seats) we can. i go most often on weekends at lunchtime, though sometimes on weekdays, too.

                                                            2. re: Ike
                                                              bigjeff RE: Ike Jun 4, 2009 08:46 PM

                                                              seems to be some conflicting opinions and I trust my man pcherches:

                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5922...

                                                              i think i need to go to saravanaas NOT on a monday/tuesday and hit that thali again.

                                                              1. re: bigjeff
                                                                p
                                                                Pan RE: bigjeff Jun 4, 2009 09:06 PM

                                                                Why not on a Monday or Tuesday?

                                                                1. re: Pan
                                                                  bigjeff RE: Pan Jun 5, 2009 09:05 AM

                                                                  eh, just according to Ike. but there are good recs on that other thread I linked to so . . . . ya, sounds good.

                                                                  1. re: bigjeff
                                                                    Steve R RE: bigjeff Jul 18, 2009 02:11 PM

                                                                    Going to Dhaba tonite with some CH friends... will report back.

                                                          2. bigjeff RE: Jim Leff Mar 13, 2010 11:43 AM

                                                            any new joints? going to eat some dosai (no thalis) tomorrow night (sunday) and . . . I wanna try something different than saravanaas (big airy room on the corner) or chennai garden. anyone have good recs? just want to expand my options. still haven't had dhaba, coconut grove was a total disappointment and just wondering what else is poppin in the hood.

                                                            38 Replies
                                                            1. re: bigjeff
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                                                              Lau RE: bigjeff Mar 13, 2010 12:09 PM

                                                              i went to dhaba, i'm pretty sure they don't serve dosas?

                                                              1. re: bigjeff
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                                                                sugartoof RE: bigjeff Mar 13, 2010 12:11 PM

                                                                Bhojan is a vege Thali place opened by the Dhaba people. It just opened. They're featuring the vegetarian combo dinners, and street food small plates.

                                                                Cinnamon also just opened, with a hip contemporary designed room. Menu looks upscale, using words like "seasonal", and "handcrafted". There's a $5 coupon on the website, and they added buffets, and lunch specials.

                                                                Bhatti opened in the old corner spot once occupied by Cardamon, Dosa Hut, and the Sara-knockoff named place. Again, they're using minimalist design, and trendy presentation.

                                                                Tamba opened in the Banana Leaf location.

                                                                Nirvana (I think is fairly new), and nearby in Murray Hill proper.

                                                                Not Indian, but Rice has become a Turkish place , alsoopened with partners from Kalustyan spice shop.

                                                                1. re: sugartoof
                                                                  bigjeff RE: sugartoof Mar 14, 2010 05:46 AM

                                                                  perfect! will report . . . bhojan sounds perfect; is nirvana new or old? I thought I heard about this place a long time ago but, there is also a new one? this review mentions the old one, which I remember was around 18th/19th and was a sri-lankan place:
                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/656027

                                                                  and then, all these recent reviews:
                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/649700

                                                                  might start out in lower lex, and peek in some windows, but maybe will end up going to nirvana. cool! although . . . . I would still like dosa of course! we'll see how it goes.

                                                                  1. re: bigjeff
                                                                    s
                                                                    sugartoof RE: bigjeff Mar 14, 2010 10:51 AM

                                                                    Nirvana is at 326 Lexington, at 39th.

                                                                    I'll echo the comments in your second link, and mention that I don't know if there's a connection to the long lost Nirvana, which had the young female chef, and postcard views of Central Park.

                                                                    Let us know how it goes!

                                                                  2. re: sugartoof
                                                                    bigjeff RE: sugartoof Mar 14, 2010 09:42 PM

                                                                    sugartoff, wow. thanks so much for the recs, we had the best, yes, best indian meal I've had in a very long time. Bhojan is the spot; we hit the place early as the first customers of the night, peering thru the window of cinnamon (the old coconut grove) into an empty spot that looked like the inverse of its previous inhabitants; a completely bright and open room with fancy lighting. prices were high for this indian fusion food; entrees at $16.95, for example. across the street was tamba; we didn't make it over there but it looked like they had some customers; fighting for the east side of lexington I suppose. bhojan we went into immediately upon seeing the pharmaceutical jars filled with all manner of kachori, sev, bhel puri, candied fennel (anise?) seeds and fried dhal. warm welcome as the proprietress came out to ask if we needed any explanation for the menu items in the window and, and then we find out the place is from the same owners as dhaba and chola, one of 8 restaurants in their mini-empire.

                                                                    before the food, the room: absolutely beautiful decor in every part of the restaurant; ceilings, walls, everything perfect; spot lighting for the middle of our table provides the perfect platform for food blog photos so all you chumps better get your gorillapods out. service great, many people but all unobtrusive; and before I forget, they also have an $8 lunch thali that sounds amazing.

                                                                    the place is gujarati, they offer all veg, thalis, and street food. no dosas or other south asian stuff but we ordered

                                                                    + khaman dhokla
                                                                    + samosa chaat
                                                                    + ashram thali which is good for buddhists (no onion or garlic)

                                                                    the food was so good, so amazing. the dhokla the freshest I have ever had; steamed perfectly, served with a raw mung-bean salad and two sauces; the combination of the steamed cakes with the crunchy mung-beans is . . . unheard of. the samosa chaat was freshly fried, perfectly tuned although not spicy enough; they provided whole chilis on request.

                                                                    at this point, the room started to fill; I was proud that we held down the title of non-indian for well through our meal, after at least six or seven tables full of indian families and pairs filled the room. at the end, there was a white couple that came in but everyone else (lot of solo diners) was indian. maybe it was the inside tip from the far corners of their empire.

                                                                    the thali was amazing, so good. beautifully presented, generous portions; 4 or 5 different starches: rice, dhokla, fried chips sort of like krupuk, chapati, poori and surrounded by aloo baigain (potato eggplant cooked so perfectly I can't even understand; it tasted like it had been cooked for exactly 90 minutes; the textures amazing), a curious pasta dish of way overcooked sheets of wheat pasta cooked in lentil soup; it was like boyardee-meets-mien-ge-da; there was more of the baby mung-bean sprout salad, a curious think which I believe is kichidi; this was thin like soup but had granular miniature balls; it went down smooth but then the afterfeel in the throat was as if you just ate a potato chip; amazing. the achar was amazing; tasted so smooth like it used orange peel or something; the sweet yogurt/date/honey was delicious; and many other delicious items. the only bad dish was a waste of a beautiful ingredient: baby okra cut into 3/8" slices and then, for no good reason, deep fried. it just tasted like oil and was terrible. aside from that dish (and maybe you can ask to not get the okra) it kicks the ass of any thali I have ever had and they have 2 others, presumably with onion and garlic. our thali was so flavorful without those two aromatics; it was amazing. the other two are gujarati and punjabi. we learned that you are not supposed to share thalis like the way we were doing (and the way I always did, splitting a dosa and a thali with another person; bad apparently) but the proprietress let it slide.

                                                                    what else is amazing about this place? my meal was so good and I can't even remember all of it; many tables were getting chaat (they had bhel puri too which looked really good) and we saw a lot of people getting cheese toast; this must be the same stuff as mumbai express because they call it small plates and also includes fried fenugreek, fried chilis, cheese sandwiches both desi-style and pudina-style as well as the channa dish with the giant poori and what was at least 20 other little goodies.

                                                                    the chaat also included corn chaat and fruit chat, the samosa chaat we had was expertly fried and simply perfect and classy.

                                                                    if you couldn't get my drift by now, then let me be clear; go eat at this place and tear through the menu! they've been open a week and my meal kicked ass. now, here's the topper: we went across the street to charlie paan for dessert (two sweet to go) and the place is now renovated; two guys prep the paan behind a counter now set against the back of the room and there are plenty of goods for sale, including kulfi in 3 flavors! eating the paan, it was as good as ever but, a bit too strong with the mint oil (tasted too chemicular) so we decided to walk back to lexington and went right back in to Bhojan? Why? Because they have a frickin sweets counter!

                                                                    yes, they make their own mithai and so we went right back into the place and took a seat at the very cute (and date-friendly) front section. two teas (I like the chai spice black tea, I think its yogi brand, haha) and a sampling of three:

                                                                    + a small thin pistachio roll (simple and tasty)
                                                                    + a diamond of the freshest burfi i ever had (mung bean I think)
                                                                    + a very juicy thing that reminded me of an orange-colored oblong galub jamon split in half and filled with cannoli-like cream, and topped with an almond

                                                                    the sweets were so good, so delicious and we saw a guy come in and just point to 3 sweets, and get em in a plastic to-go box, no bag needed. when we returned to the place for the second time of the night, I think all the servers knew they had a good thing going. everyone should check the place out and give them a warm welcome; I don't know about the other 3 but I think one is the king (or queen) of curry hill right now. and, in terms of price, extremely affordable, like chennai garden affordable.

                                                                    1. re: bigjeff
                                                                      s
                                                                      sugartoof RE: bigjeff Mar 14, 2010 10:12 PM

                                                                      that was some review! thanks so much for sharing that, and glad you had a great night.

                                                                      the proprietress came out to talk to me as well, which seemed uncharacteristically aggressive for lexington, but i could see the dessert bar looked so beautiful, it quickly felt personable instead. if i'm not mistaken, this used to be the "saravana" dosa hut space, which was combined with the corner space.

                                                                      one of the owners is a bollywood star, which accounts for some of the interest. there are nights when dhaba is packed.

                                                                      1. re: sugartoof
                                                                        bigjeff RE: sugartoof Mar 14, 2010 10:51 PM

                                                                        this was the bhavan saravanaas before? the dark one that looked hut-like inside? dhaba indeed had every table full which was amazing. what did you have there, or, did you just check the menu and she came outside?

                                                                        1. re: bigjeff
                                                                          s
                                                                          sugartoof RE: bigjeff Mar 14, 2010 11:05 PM

                                                                          I haven't tried Bhojan yet, but I've been to Dhaba a number of times, and it's always excellent. My only criticism is that during their lunch buffet, the meats can get dry. They serve a tandoori drumstick to the table that I usually skip. Otherwise it's probably my favorite in the neighborhood.

                                                                          Dosa Hut combined into the Saravanaas Bhavan space which used to be Cardamon, and prior to that was a corner market. Same place, they just broke the smaller space off again, and did nice work on the design. It's funny how they all copy each other, depending on the trend, and then fold one by one, but this is a step in the right direction. Bombay Talkie really started it.

                                                                          1. re: sugartoof
                                                                            bigjeff RE: sugartoof Mar 14, 2010 11:27 PM

                                                                            haha, yup! wow, what turnover; it is pretty funny. i guess madras mahal may be the next to fall?

                                                                            1. re: bigjeff
                                                                              s
                                                                              sugartoof RE: bigjeff Mar 15, 2010 12:09 AM

                                                                              Could be. Same owner as Roomali, which in retrospect was probably the first with the modern decor.

                                                                      2. re: bigjeff
                                                                        l
                                                                        Lau RE: bigjeff Mar 31, 2010 01:38 PM

                                                                        had a similarly awesome meal at bhojan on saturday. We got the following:
                                                                        - samosa chaat: this was great, everything was standard, but tasted just right although could've used a bit more heat, but I was happy to find a place serving good chaat since it's sort of hard to find decent chaat
                                                                        - phucka: they had an odd name for it, but it was just pani puri, they already put it together for you so all you had to do was put the water in it. the crispy shells were slightly stale (like very slightly), but everything else about it was really good
                                                                        - gujurati thali: awesome, too many dishes to talk about and some of them i didn't even know what they were called although i've definitely eaten all of them before (many years ago spent 3 weeks in india at my friends house and they are gujurati and i ate a ridiculous amt of guju food); everything was fresh, light and good; felt good after eating here...the chapati were good and the poori were great (freshly fried)

                                                                        definitely recommend coming here

                                                                        1. re: Lau
                                                                          bigjeff RE: Lau Mar 31, 2010 02:10 PM

                                                                          cool man! going there tonight, really glad you liked it. I guess I'll get the third thali that's on the menu, just to round it out.

                                                                          samosa chaat was good right? elementary, but done up right.

                                                                          1. re: Lau
                                                                            s
                                                                            sugartoof RE: Lau Mar 31, 2010 02:32 PM

                                                                            Interesting. I tried their lunch Thali and wasn't blown away. Dhaba's lunch buffet is far superior, with better versions of the same dishes, and you can get a better value that's more satisfying.

                                                                            Most of the dishes were either too soupy, or too oily with flavors that were impossible to distinguish from one dish to the next. I enjoyed the chopped Kale dish most, but the pool or orange colored oil at the bottom was off putting.
                                                                            Dessert was notable, but barely a bite size portion cut down to fit inside the Thali cup. I think there was a mango chutney on the plate, but it was literally pea sized serving that was difficult to even scrape up to do anything with, so it almost appeared like it was a mistake.

                                                                            Also, the Bollywood techno and mirrored ceilings with thumb prints were distracting.

                                                                            Sounds like it's better at dinner, and the street food/dessert side of the menu is better, but i wouldn't go back.

                                                                            1. re: sugartoof
                                                                              l
                                                                              Lau RE: sugartoof Mar 31, 2010 03:15 PM

                                                                              bigjeff - yah it was definitely good, my gf has been disappointed by the last 1-2 indian restaurants we tried (like new ones that we haven't gone to before), so i was happy we found a new good place and we haven't been able to find decent chaat since dimple shut down (still mourn that place), so i was very happy about that

                                                                              sugartoof - i generally avoid lunch at any of these places unless i'm ordering off the regular menu, i find alot of the places dumb down their food or its of noticeably lesser quality b/c its a buffett. We went to dhaba for lunch only once and while i thought their buffett was definitely better than the avg curry hill place we thought it was just decent on a absolute basis. So i can definitely see the same type of thing happening at bhojan especially considering they are owned by the same people

                                                                              1. re: Lau
                                                                                s
                                                                                sugartoof RE: Lau Mar 31, 2010 03:44 PM

                                                                                The thali is off the regular menu, it's just at a special price at lunch. Bhojan doesn't currently offer a buffet.

                                                                                The smear of chutney for example was inexcusable. What was I supposed to do, lick the platter?

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Bhojan
                                                                                102 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                                                                1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                  l
                                                                                  Lau RE: sugartoof Mar 31, 2010 05:36 PM

                                                                                  haha i was actually thinking the same thing about the smear of chutney, i actually didn't even notice it until the end of the meal although i enjoyed the rest of the meal.

                                                                                  also while i'm not a gujurati expert or anything, i have noticed that generally alot of their food has more muted flavors than say bold north indian cuisine. I've eaten in many gujurati households so i think ive got a reasonable idea that that is the way its supposed to taste

                                                                                  1. re: Lau
                                                                                    ChiefHDB RE: Lau Mar 31, 2010 08:20 PM

                                                                                    Jeff, you had me at "like the cheese toast from Mumbai Express," which I've really been wanting to try. Doing Bhojan for lunch tomorrow for sure, want to get the thali too.

                                                                                    -----
                                                                                    Bhojan
                                                                                    102 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                                                                    1. re: ChiefHDB
                                                                                      l
                                                                                      Lau RE: ChiefHDB Mar 31, 2010 08:31 PM

                                                                                      oh that cheese toast is interesting, i ran into some people i know there when i got there...i was like wth is cheese toast doing on the menu at bhojan and i asked one of them who grew up in bombay and she was saying its like classic bombay type stuff

                                                                                      1. re: Lau
                                                                                        ChiefHDB RE: Lau Mar 31, 2010 08:34 PM

                                                                                        This is the sandwich from Mumbai Express: http://www.ediblecommunities.com/quee...

                                                                                      2. re: ChiefHDB
                                                                                        bigjeff RE: ChiefHDB Apr 2, 2010 03:47 PM

                                                                                        chief, saw your shots on flickr; whadja think? if that's the $8 lunch thali, that don't look bad at all!

                                                                                2. re: sugartoof
                                                                                  bigjeff RE: sugartoof Apr 1, 2010 06:27 AM

                                                                                  sugartoof; you are talking at bhojan's lunch thali? it is quite a deal at half the price of the dinner one at $16 so . . . that's probably the small portion reason.

                                                                                  1. re: bigjeff
                                                                                    s
                                                                                    sugartoof RE: bigjeff Apr 1, 2010 01:31 PM

                                                                                    hard to think of it as a deal when there wasn't anything there.
                                                                                    2 bits of cheese floating in sauce?
                                                                                    i left feeling ripped off.

                                                                                    i would have been better off with the $6 lunch at tiffin wallah (which i don't love) or paying the $14 at saravannah for their lunch thali.

                                                                                    1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                      bigjeff RE: sugartoof Apr 1, 2010 06:42 PM

                                                                                      haha, I meant, not quite a deal.

                                                                                      1. re: bigjeff
                                                                                        ChiefHDB RE: bigjeff Apr 3, 2010 04:40 AM

                                                                                        Jeff, yeah I wanted to post on CH, but I threw my post up on my blog then went out the rest of the night.

                                                                                        The thali was excellent, and for $8 at lunch was a great deal.

                                                                                        As you can tell from the picture, the cheese sandwich I was really excited about is not as decadent looking as the link I posted to the Mumbai Express sandwich. However, the chile cheese toast was really good (and spicy).

                                                                                        The phuchka with "tangy water" was really interesting. I'd heard of it, but never tried it. I also liked the dabeli, but the size and heaviness of the thing means you should probably share or else you'll need a nap halfway through the meal.

                                                                                        The mango lassi was excellent, and while the desserts were interesting, they didn't blow me away. I'd like to try something with more pistachio next time.

                                                                                        For 3 of us, we spent around $25 apiece, not bad, especially since you can just get the thali (which is plenty of food), but with all the interesting chaat and snacks, it's hard to resist getting more.

                                                                                        flickr pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lawandfood/sets/72157623631940833/

                                                                                        www.lawandfood.blogspot.com

                                                                                        1. re: ChiefHDB
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                                                                                          sugartoof RE: ChiefHDB Apr 3, 2010 11:20 AM

                                                                                          You really think you could have been satisfied on the thali alone?

                                                                                          I'm surprised. Your kale portion does look larger, and you got a salad starter, which I didn't, but I still can't imagine it making a difference. $75 for 3, at a lunch, with a lunch special would have also felt high to me, but the street foods look good. Will be interesting to read other reports from people who just ordered thali alone.

                                                                                          1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                            ChiefHDB RE: sugartoof Apr 3, 2010 01:52 PM

                                                                                            Me personally? Probably not, other people with lesser appetites definitely.

                                                                                            We did order a lot, but I didn't think anything was unreasonably priced, it just added up fast once we started ordering the small plates and chaats with the thalis (plus a mango lassi apiece).

                                                                              2. re: bigjeff
                                                                                bigjeff RE: bigjeff Apr 1, 2010 07:28 AM

                                                                                this thread is getting a bit confusing but, that's ok.

                                                                                had a second meal there yesterday and . . . . I have to tone my enthusiasm down. reasons to be explained. we had:

                                                                                + fruit chaat
                                                                                + dhokla bhel puri
                                                                                + dabeli
                                                                                + punjabi thali

                                                                                fruit chaat was . . . . . just fruit. with some masala on top. very good fruit of course but, I thought there'd be some crunchies or some extras. still good though.

                                                                                the other chaat item we got sounded intriguing because I love me some dhokla but it didn't have any of that, or maybe specifically it has to be khaman dhokla for the steamed yellow lentil cake things. this was a basic typical chaat (sev, crunchies, some potato maybe); it was good, it was beautiful, needed heat as usual, but that's okay.

                                                                                we then wanted some of the small plate stuff, some kinda bread thing and we settled on the dabeli which was basically a . . . potato/veg mixture in between a toasted bun (think burger bun) served w/ two chutneys and some hot mix. pretty good, but not crazy unique. we didn't get the toast because our server made it sound like it was just pieces of toast with stuff on top, versus like bread pakora (like what they have at raja sweets in JHeights, or at mumbai express). maybe the pau/pav would be good, which looked more slider-y. couldn't decide between the pau bhaji, the vada pav or the dabeli, we picked the dabeli. it was good but not great. there is definitely more to explore on that section of the menu.

                                                                                the thali was good! different from the ashram one that we had with stronger flavors: peas and paneer, a much tastier okra (punjabi-style bhindi) than on the ashram, a methi fritter, a bunch of pretty tasty items on the thali; still a good selection of starches (poori, chapati, rice, papadam, etc.); chutney still a smear, and still good (is it bad form to ask for extra?). there was a $6 upcharge for sharing which I didn't remember from my first meal so it ended up being $22 for the thali, which is definitely expensive. and looking back, I dropped $50 on the meal for . . . snacks that would be a fraction in JHeights and that's when I started to sour a little bit. don't get me wrong of course, the quality of the food, the experience, the presentation, everything is very good but when you start to think about it more critically, well, that's what happens.

                                                                                no matter, the place is still good but there are definitely some better dishes than others. I'd still like to try the gujurati thali (we overheard a server break down that it was the best of the 3, since essentially bhojan is a gujurati restaurant) and also run through the small plates properly. and, we walked out with two mithai "for the road"; one which was two discs sandwiching some cheese, and the other like a boat with galub jamon on the bottom and a load of salty/sour cheese. pretty good. place was jumping, crowded, and great energy.

                                                                                1. re: bigjeff
                                                                                  ChiefHDB RE: bigjeff Apr 3, 2010 06:10 AM

                                                                                  This is really getting unmanageable (oh well), we should just start a dedicated Bhojan thread. Jeff, our waiter was also talking up the gujarati thali, and scanning the tables, that's what it looked like everyone was ordering.

                                                                                  Really looking forward to exploring the menu some more.

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  Bhojan
                                                                                  102 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                                                                  1. re: ChiefHDB
                                                                                    ChiefHDB RE: ChiefHDB Apr 4, 2010 07:55 PM

                                                                                    Went again tonight. Only had the gujarati thali for $16. I think that if I were going again for dinner, I would just get a variety of chaat and snacks instead. The thali was good, totally different dishes from last time, but I liked the dishes served in the lunch thali better (and for half the price).

                                                                                  2. re: bigjeff
                                                                                    buttertart RE: bigjeff Apr 5, 2010 11:23 AM

                                                                                    Bhojan sounds good but what do Gujarati thalis and Mumbai Express specialties have to do with south Indian food? Am I missing something?

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                                                                                    Bhojan
                                                                                    102 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                                                                    1. re: buttertart
                                                                                      bigjeff RE: buttertart Apr 5, 2010 11:26 AM

                                                                                      yaaaa . . . . . it just turned into a general curry hill thread because honestly, I was looking for the next good dosa but bhojan got thrown in the mix as a general indian rec in the hood and I thought I'd do my reportback on bhojan back to the original thread/recommendation.

                                                                                      1. re: buttertart
                                                                                        ChiefHDB RE: buttertart Apr 5, 2010 11:30 AM

                                                                                        Mumbai Express was serving a similar sandwich to the one served at Bhojan. Bhojan specializes in Gujarati food, but they also have a big selection of chaats and smaller dishes. Check out the menu, it's pretty interesting. http://bhojanny.com/bhojanmenu.html

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                                                                                        Bhojan
                                                                                        102 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                                                                        1. re: ChiefHDB
                                                                                          buttertart RE: ChiefHDB Apr 5, 2010 11:43 AM

                                                                                          Has anyone had either of the other 2 thalis? Intriguing.

                                                                                          1. re: buttertart
                                                                                            bigjeff RE: buttertart Apr 5, 2010 12:01 PM

                                                                                            buttertart,

                                                                                            I had the ashram and the punjabi, and Lau had the gujurati. all were for dinner. I believe chiefHDB and sugartoof had the lunch thalis, but not sure which ones.

                                                                                            personally, I liked the punjabi over the ashram but I will go again to try the gujurati one.

                                                                                            1. re: bigjeff
                                                                                              ChiefHDB RE: bigjeff Apr 5, 2010 12:09 PM

                                                                                              I had the Gujarati thali for lunch and dinner. Completely different dishes each time. I liked the lunch one much better.

                                                                                              1. re: bigjeff
                                                                                                buttertart RE: bigjeff Apr 5, 2010 12:55 PM

                                                                                                Oops sorry I see your references to the other thalis above (and the website shows they're available all day on weekends). I'd love to get to this restaurant but my steadfast dining companion is a somewhat reluctant vegetarian restaurant-goer. Needs convincing.

                                                                                          2. re: buttertart
                                                                                            s
                                                                                            sugartoof RE: buttertart Apr 5, 2010 11:34 AM

                                                                                            Sorry, partly my fault. I gave a bunch of suggestions for new places, most of which aren't South Indian. Aside rom Bhojan, the new places in Curry Hill are moving away from South Indian trend.

                                                                                            1. re: sugartoof
                                                                                              buttertart RE: sugartoof Apr 5, 2010 11:44 AM

                                                                                              Naughty, naughty! Just kidding.

                                                                                  3. c
                                                                                    Cookiemaker RE: Jim Leff Apr 6, 2010 09:15 AM

                                                                                    Ha! I am following this long, convoluted thread and I'm sold on Bhojan but I, too, want to know where I can get a big, fat, crispy-edged masala dosa in the area and you guys seem like the perfect people to ask. Coming to town for 5 days at the end of Sept. and I'm doing lots of homework so that every meal is stellar (and cheap!). Back to dosas, please?!!!

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                                                                                    Bhojan
                                                                                    102 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Cookiemaker
                                                                                      bigjeff RE: Cookiemaker Apr 6, 2010 11:53 AM

                                                                                      back to dosas? Chennai garden for their rava masala or the old standby of Saravanaas unless anyone has a better rec? the point of which, I was asking the same thing a couple weeks ago (which is why i revived the thread in the first place) and never heard otherwise! I've only had tiffin wallah at lunch buffet so I don't know their dosas; I've almost given up on dosas in this hood actually and been meaning to make the pilgrimage to jersey city where I've heard many good things.

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                                                                                      Saravanaas
                                                                                      81 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                                                                      1. re: bigjeff
                                                                                        s
                                                                                        sugartoof RE: bigjeff Apr 6, 2010 02:15 PM

                                                                                        Saravanahs are good, huge dosas, but not massively thick if that's what you like. I think they're just right, but imagine you can get better in other neighborhoods outside Manhattan.

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