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Mar 7, 2008 05:03 AM

Please Update Me on Curry Hill South Indian Options

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. 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. 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

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

        1. re: wleatherette

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

          1. re: Produce Addict

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

            1. re: a_and_w

              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

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

            2. re: Produce Addict

              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

                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. 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

            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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        Here are the chowhound links with addresses.

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

                        232 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

                        17 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036

                        1. re: cimui

                          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

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

                    2. re: umisquirrel

                      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. 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

                    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

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

                  2. 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

                      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

                        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

                          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

                            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

                              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

                                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

                          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.