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May 26, 2008 06:11 PM

Indian/Pakistani in the Bronx

Any thing good in the Bronx in the Asian subcontinent way? We are driving to the Botanical Gardens in a few weeks and have been inspired to do more Bronx eating by our wonderful recent Vietnamese meal at Seafood Taste the other day. Boy is that restaurant ever good--193rd and Jerome.

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  1. On Starling Ave., a couple of blocks east of Castle Hill Ave., there are two steam-table Pakistani places that have good to occasionally very good food. Neither has a regular menu and the selection changes daily. I usually get take-out from Desi Sawad, the one further west of the two, but only because it is a shorter walk on my limited lunch hour.

    1. The area of Parkchester that Deven speaks of is slowly becoming populated with more and more emmigrants from Bangladesh. Starling Avenue has three places with steam tables on it actually, and there's also one on Westchester Avenue just off Castle Hill Avenue (Jol Khabar, 2153 Westchester Avenue). All of these places are presently very pedestrian and lackluster, but they do satisfy the craving when necessary.

      One Indian/Pakistani place that stands out for me is a place on Lydig Avenue. Their naan is *excellent*. Along with the naan I had a samosa and a chicken kabob (for lunch), but the other selections looked pretty good. Skip the samosas.

      I don't recall their name but they are located on Lydig Avenue between White Plains Road and Bolton Street. As with many of these Southeast Asian eateries, their decor leaves a lot to be desired. The best part is that you can hop on Pelham Parkway and you can be there in five minutes from the Botanical Garden. Based on the naan alone, I know it's a tough call. I can't wait to go back and try something vegetarian to eat with my next order of two gigantic naans.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Cheese Boy

        Rawal Ravail?

        Rawal Ravail
        641 Lydig Ave, Bronx, NY 10462

        1. re: squid kun

          Squid kun, that must be it. ... It's exactly where I described.

          1. re: Cheese Boy

            went to lydig avenue to explore a bit after going to the botanical gardens (not a horrible walk but you just have to be able to navigate the gardens and the exits); but we arived at lydig avenue, no problem. Rawal Ravail was great, we had:

            + goat curry
            + a split order of dal and channa
            + naan
            + a sweet (the one similar to galub jamon, with cheese in the middle)

            for $13 for the above, great food and a great find; the curry was excellent, lots of thick gravy, tender flavorful meat and quite salty; the other meat selections were chicken haleem, chicken curry and some other thing. the channa was the better of the two, achieving that tenderness yet body that is so elusive, the dal was disappointingly undercooked yet, alright when mixed into the goat curry. the naan as everyone has said here is phenomenal; huge, pliable, great texture throughout. the dining room was actually somewhat filled with maybe 5 or 6 tables, this was early tonight (Saturday) around 6:30pm.

            satisfied, we walked down the ave. and picked up a slice of spinach burek from Burektorja Dukagjini (real good, nice flaky yet substantial pastry and fresh spinach); some frozen lamb manti $6 for 10 large ones) and a veal/pork cheburek-thing from the Premier Market (russian goods), some produce from Lydig Pick n' Pack. Overall, a cute little street but probably an understatement as a major thoroughfare of chowfinds although the shop next to Rawal Ravail which seemed to be a combination halal meat freezer and newspaper stand had some goods; inexpensive goat meat in various parts ($1.99 for a goat's head), etc. The jewish bakery in this thread was closed at the time.

            1. re: bigjeff

              Bigjeff, on your next visit you have to try the Jewish Bakery.
              I usually go on Thursday and get some incredible fresh hamantaschen,
              raspberry and/or poppy, but they have prune and apricot as well.

        2. re: Cheese Boy

          > Starling Avenue has three places with steam tables on it actually ...

          The third, and the most bare-bones of the bunch, is across the street attached to Al-Aqsa, the grocery and butcher shop you mentioned below. Tried the seekh kabab here; it was OK, but we preferred the one at Dawaat.

          2109 Starling Ave, Bronx, NY 10462

        3. I need to make it up there for a real food exploration trip with my Bengali partner in crime, but until then I can only guess. I know for a fact that the number of Bengalis (Bangladeshis specifically) in the Bronx is sky rocketing at a rapid rate. You will do well with things that you find in these areas; so if you find a completely Bangladeshi area and you see Bangladeshi eating with one hand in a place (steam table or not), it will probably be cheap and excellent. These sort of restaurants are especially important for a lunch crowd that's composed of married men who would otherwise have to go home to their wives for food; this is also what makes them so prevalent in South Asian communities or business districts.

          6 Replies
          1. re: JFores

            Dang J this sounds great. I gotta get up there more often. But the Lydig Ave area Cheese Boy is talking about doesn't sound like that kind of Bengali/Bangladeshi mini-hood. The part of Parkchester that Deven mentioned might be more like it.

            1. re: squid kun

              The kebabs are good in Rawal Ravail. The others are hit and miss. I think Time Out has reviewed them before. There is a good one by my apt. They're also Bengalis. They have lunch specials, Mon-Friday. Otherwise, it's around 7-8 an entree. You should check it out :)

              New Tazmohol Indian Restaurant
              156a West 231st Street, Bronx, NY 10463-5603
              (718) 548-1133

              I like the nan breads and curries (tikka masala) in Anarkali on Starling Avenue.
              2146 Starling Ave Bronx, NY 10462
              (718) 931-288

              1. re: fsval

                Has Anarkali been replaced by Desi-Sawad (mentioned by Deven and Cheese Boy)? Same address and phone.

                1. re: squid kun

                  Just answering my own question after a visit to the nabe on Thursday: Yes, it's now Desi-Sawad.

                  2146 Starling Ave, Bronx, NY 10462

              2. re: squid kun

                Squid Kun, Lydig is definitely *not* a Bengali/Bangladeshi mini-hood. Parkchester, Starling Avenue vicinity, is slowly becoming one.

                Went to Rawal Ravail today on Lydig. Selections were good, but not great. One naan and chicken curry was $7.50. If it wasn't for the naan, I really wouldn't be a return customer. I think I'll continue to head out to Queens for the good stuff.

                1. re: Cheese Boy

                  On the other side of Lydig Ave. from Rawal Ravi there is an old-style Jewish bakery that is a throwback to an earlier, more hamish era when bread was bread and kugel was kugel. Very worth checking out. I highly recommend the potato kugel.

            2. Bronx, [Parkchester] Bangladeshi food spots (in no particular order):

              Desi-Sawad Restaurant & Tikka Shop
              2146 Starling Avenue
              Bronx, NY 10462
              (718) 931-2880, (718) 709-1674

              AL-AQSA Halal Meat & Supermarket
              2109 Starling Avenue
              Bronx, NY 10462
              (718) 904-0700, (718) 904-8016

              Dawaat Restaurant
              2104 Starling Avenue
              Bronx, NY 10462
              (718) 518-1882

              Jol Khabar
              2153 Westchester Avenue
              Bronx, NY 10462
              (718) 239-7214

              Today, Desi-Sawad had the best looking goat curry I've seen in a while. I had already eaten somewhere else. Dawaat has the nicest interior. Jol Khabar is the newcomer amongst them all (5 months old).

              10 Replies
              1. re: Cheese Boy

                You guys are great for all these responses. We're planning a Bronx day soon--eat out at one of these restaurants and visit the neighborhood where my wife grew up--213th and Jerome--but left many decades ago.

                1. re: Cheese Boy

                  Desi-Sawad's goat curry is my default lunch whenever I can get out to eat lunch. The meat is always falling-off-the-bone tender and the curry very rich. Vegetable dishes are also very good, especially a recent okra and onion combination they occasionally have.

                  1. re: Deven Black

                    Deven, Desi-Sawad had the okra along side the goat curry. Both trays looked *very, very* appealing. I had eaten at Dawaat already, otherwise I would certainly have taken a seat and sampled some. If the trays of food taste as good as they look, then I'm really in for a treat on my next visit.

                    1. re: Cheese Boy

                      Perhaps we'll run into each other there one day.

                        1. re: squid kun

                          Here's the list I've worked through so far. Seekh kabobs, beef bhona, chicken curry, green beans with potato, and plain steamed basmati rice. The owners there are so nice that you can't help but want to eat there. Often times, they will also give you something to sample. One sample I received worth mentioning is their "chop". Chops are 1" thick potato pancakes that are either shallow or deep fried. They are *very* good and I recommend getting those if they are fresh.

                          The other food I mentioned is just okay. Nothing really WOWs me there, but it's certainly closer to me than having to go all the way to Jackson Heights. Quite honestly, around 6pm, the food at Desi-Sawad looks GREAT for their dinner crowd (although selection is a bit limited compared to Dawaat). My next stop will definitely be Desi-Sawad and I'll likely report on my experience.

                          1. re: Cheese Boy

                            > The owners there are so nice that you can't help but want to eat there.

                            Agreed - the lady at the counter was helpful and sweet. Nice mellow vibe here in midafternoon: a few guys were hanging out and watching Euro 2008 soccer on TV.

                            We liked Dawaat's seekh kabab more than you did, I think. It had fresh, lively spicing and good texture and was the best of three we tried, ahead of Jol Khabar's and Al-Aqsa's.

                            The goat curry was pretty good, too (unfortunately we topped out before we could try Desi-Sawad's, recommended by Deven). Also had decent chana and fresh naan, and veg pakoras, freshly made but just OK.

                            And there was this charmer of a 3-year-old, a restaurateur in training who plied my friends and me with helpings of make-believe food that he brought over from the menu in the window. Normally I disapprove of this kind of upselling, but in this case the price was zero.

                            Jol Khabar
                            2153 Westchester Ave, Bronx, NY 10462

                            2104 Starling Ave, Bronx, NY 10462

                            1. re: squid kun

                              Squid kun, happy you could make it to the hood.

                              Truth be told, I'm in love with the chana, seekh kababs, and naan at Rawal Ravail right now on Lydig. I've been back 3x !!!

                              As I stated in an earlier reply, ' Desi-Sawad had the best looking goat curry I've seen in a while' ... Desi-Sawad is next on my "places to visit" list on Starling Avenue.

                              Good to see that thanks to CH, Starling Ave will get some exposure.
                              [Excellent pics supplied by squid kun here if you browse his replies].

                              1. re: Cheese Boy

                                Then Lydig Ave. is on my list, definitely - not just for Rawal but for the other places too (I hear there are great bureks to be had around there).

                                And I'll be back to Starling Avenue. Desi-Sawad looked really good. We were just full by the time we got there. Appreciate all your guidance!

                                1. re: squid kun

                                  Lydig Ave. is one of the greast undiscovered food strips in NYC. In addition to Rawal Ravali and the boureks, there is an old-fashioned kosher bread etc. retail shop that has the best potato kugel I've had in ages. I wish I could remember the name, but it is on the south side of Lydig, across the street and slightly east of Rawal.

                  2. Just a quick update on the Bangladeshi scene in Parkchester for anybody who's interested. Many of the store owners have stepped up their game, and one has seemingly stepped it down. The two forerunners transitioning for the better are Neerob, and Jol Khabar. Neerob has replaced Al-Aqsa and has undergone a beautiful cosmetic facelift. Their food offerings are very good. Jol Khabar, on Westchester Avenue, is better since increasing the offerings at its steam table. Their spice level isn't dumbed down, and I find the place to be clean. Best of all, they're offering a lunch/dinner special which includes one meat, two vegetables, rice or naan, and salad, for $5. Yes, you read that correctly, five dollars. Portions are not huge, but certainly adequate for most normal appetites. Meats include goat, chicken, fish, etc.

                    The lagger of the whole bunch is Dawaat. They were already victims of the BOH once since their grand opening, and it seems like they could care less. Since being shuttered, no significant improvements. Storefront has dirty glass panes, poorly maintained interior, etc. Overall a disappointment because the people there were so very kind.

                    Desi-Sawad has moved from it's previous location on Starling Avenue to its new location up the street on Starling Avenue between Purdy Street and Castle Hill Avenue. Offerings are the same and continue to be good.

                    Neerob, who replaced Al-Aqsa -->

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Cheese Boy

                      Thanks for the update! I really need to go to Parkchester again. I've only been going to Pelham Parkway or Kingsbridge for Indian food.

                      1. re: Cheese Boy

                        Desi-Sawad has moved up the street, but now it is called Geo Restaurant.