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May 9, 2008 05:35 PM

Indo-Chinese Fusion

Looking for something different last night while down in Gramercy Park, I wandered into
Chinese Mirch on Lex near W28 with 2 friends, one native Indian who I will call DS. This was my first taste of this cuisine and, although always curious, I guess I had always been a bit reluctant to try it purely out of ignorance.

It was one of those evenings when ya walk from restaurant to restaurant checking menus until the group reaches an agreement. When DS suggested this fusion - "When it's done right, it's really, really good" - I dragged her over to this place on the corner I had noticed countless times. She checked the menu, confirmed that it seemed to offer the expected menu items and gave it a thumbs up. When we walked in, she quickly noted (somehow) that many of the restaurant's guests were native Indian which she felt was a good sign!

The place is small but very cute with a couple of tables downstairs and a row of approximately 20 tables up a small flight of stairs. Very nice, minimalistic decor with a cool, flapping leaf-type-thingy (row of about 8 leaves) operating as an exotic ceiling fan. Yeh, I know this thing has a name and I'm sure someone will offer it on this board.

We began with the Mirch 65 (chicken with curry leaves and chiles) and the Gobi Manchurian (cauliflower with ginger, garlic and onion seasoning). Both dishes were extremely tasty, bursting with a combo of unique flavors that I don't believe I've experienced before.

We then ordered the chili chicken and chicken manchurian, both with gravy, for our entrees along with a large order of the basmati rice b/c the entrees are served a la carte. I sort of wished we had branched out a bit with different options as these dishes were sort of similar to the appetizers but we went with the recommendations of DS. The chicken chili was very, very good. I was less impressed with the chicken manchurian (which was nothing like the gobi manchurian) and DS mentioned that this dish is typically prepared as balls of minced chicken, ginger and garlic rather than chunks of chicken with these seasonings. She ordered this dish hoping it would have been prepared that way but it was not. Still good but a bit flat. Since I love spice, I can confirm that the dishes were adequately spiced although we did not stress a desire to have them prepared with extra spice.

DS told us that, although she has attempted to prepare some of these dishes at home, neither she nor her mom/grandmother could ever get the chicken to become as soft as it is served in these restaurants. The chicken was incredibly soft but, somehow, not at all mushy and was cleaned very well and of high quality which is seldom seen.

The dessert menu looked great - warm chocolate cake and fried banana. Unfortunately no one was up for it but we'll give it a try next time. We were far less ravenous last night than our usual state.

Anyway, DS gave a thumbs up on this place - wasn't raving or blown away but definitely thought it was good. When I did a search on this board after returning from our dinner last night, I saw several recent postings on Chinese Mirch that were positive but I was unable to identify too many alternative Indo-Chinese fusion restaurants anywhere in Manhattan. I found a couple listed in Gramercy Park (one recently closing - IndoWok) but they seemed few and far between.

Does anyone know of any great Indo-Chinese fusion restaurants on the UWS or anywhere else in Manhattan that are worth a try? I think I can get easily hooked on this at least for the next few months.

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  1. Chinese Mirch is the only place I know in Manhattan. The only other Indo-Chinese restaurants I've seen are in Jackson Heights.

    1. There were a bunch of them that opened up around Chinese Mirch, but they 've all apparently closed. Indian places sometimes have a few Indian-Chinese dishes on their menu. You might search menupages by dishes like "chili chicken" or "gobi manchurian." I think, for example, that Devi does a version of the latter. I suspect, however, that you'll have to head to Queens -- do a search on the outer boroughs board for "Tangra."

      BTW, try ordering the chili chicken "dry." I find that I almost invariably prefer the dry dishes at Chinese Mirch. Also, the lollipop chicken can be very tasty.

      2 Replies
      1. re: a_and_w

        agree on the chili chicken and lollipop chicken...also think their crispy okra appetizer is awesome (ask for chili sauce on the side adds alot to the dish)

        i'm chinese and i actually really like all these takes on chinese food (korean, japanese, indian etc)

        also suprisingly their desserts are quite good

        1. re: a_and_w

          Thanks, a and w, these are all good idea. I think I stumbled across Tangra online. I know Queens well and pass through at least once a month. I would have never thought of ordering anything dry as I had assumed that was senseless but I will definitely give this a try. You might want to look into Indo Munch as an alternative to Chinese Mirch. Haven't tried it yet but the ratings sound decent.


        2. If you're serious about getting hooked on Indian Chinese food, you'll probably have to consider Queens, as JungMann mentioned before. Tangra Masala on Grand Ave in Elmhurst is the best of the cuisine I've had.

          3 Replies
          1. re: douglas525

            Closer to Manhattan, there's a Tangra Masala in Sunnyside -- take the 7 train to the 40th Street station. The food there is a lot better than Chinese Mirch.

            1. re: Miss Needle

              I know there's a Tangra Masala on Queens Blvd. near the mall. It's totally separate from the one around the corner on Grand and quite frankly, it's not as good. I don't know about the one you're talking about in Sunnyside. But I'm beginning to think that Tangra Masala is a pretty common name for Indian Chinese

              1. re: douglas525

                Actually, it seems that the Sunnyside one is called Tangra Asian fusion. Having been to that one plus the one on Grand Ave, I enjoyed the Grand Ave location more. But the Sunnyside one was still a LOT better than Chinese Mirch.

                According to the menus, they look like they're related except that the Sunnyside one has higher prices. The decor is a lot nicer than the Elmhurst location.


          2. I am also a big fan of Chinese Mirch. The only other place with similar Indian-fusion approach is Amma. Its not exactly Indo-Chinese fusion but they also make a mean gobi manchurian and okra. Its more expensive than Chinese Mirch but all of their dishes are much more refined. I would suggest doing the tasting menu if you go there. I like the food at Amma much better than Devi.

            1. Thanks, everyone, for the great suggestions!! Amma also sounds interesting and, since it looks like I'll be heading into Queens twice next week, maybe I'll have some time to stop off at Tangra ANDthat great Thai place, Sriprapha, which I have absolutely been dying to try. Miss Needle, the Tangra menu looks great and I'm very familiar with Grand Ave. I'll report back if I manage to try these next week. Thanks again all!