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seva - good indian in astoria!

  • m

I read about this place first on astorians.com. Seva is located on the southeast corner of 34th st and 30th ave where Meghna used to be but it is a far cry from that neighborhood last resort. I have to say I am too hot and tired right now to expound, but, Astoria residents, go! It was empty when we did. On top of fresh, carefully presented, well spiced, perfectly cooked, and in some cases unusually creative dishes, the owner is beyond friendly and solicitous. Servings are generous and reasonably priced. I can't wait to go back!

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  1. Please tell me more details! South Indian? Bengali? Paki? I need info to prompt any trip to Queens (but I will go if it is compelling).

    1. This is great ! Now I can add *Indian* to the plethora of places I have to visit everytime I'm in Astoria. The list expands, tummy expands, wallet compresses.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Cheese Boy

        Well I'm pretty wary of calling any Indian restaurant a "destination" restaurant given the vast expertise represented on this board, but here is a menu so you can decide for yourself.


        PS It's Northern Indian but I loved it and I usually prefer lighter fare. Not too heavy and good and fresh tasting.

        1. re: melon

          Yes, I agree. I really enjoyed lunch there a couple weeks ago. It's very likely the best Indian restaurant in Astoria, and definitely worth a visit if you're in the neighborhood, but I don't think it's worth a trip out here. If you're going to travel for Indian food, there are probably better options. And if you're coming to Astoria for dinner, I can name a dozen places off the top of my head that are more compelling.

          1. re: Harlan

            a dozen places? Please name them, I can't think of that many places in Astoria I'd go out of my way to eat at..I've had several disapointing meals at the most referred places....will check out the Indian place, as it's hard to find chicken tikka with white meat, I know I'm in the minority here, but that's the way our family eats it---is the place small or large?atmosphere? clean? child friendly?

            1. re: janie

              I've found that most places will sub white meat for a dollar extra if you ask.

              1. re: Widmark

                I've asked many times, and they say they only havet the thigh in house because that's what is most popular. Banjara in the city has it, and other places that appeal more to non-Indian tastes.

              2. re: janie

                I am sometimes inclined to agree with you on bad days about the dearth of interesting and reasonable local eateries, particularly in "northern" Astoria.

                Seva is smallish, quite clean with nice new decor, and the owner was gleefully being introduced to the neighbors' new baby when we walked in. I'm pretty sure it's child friendly.

                I'm also pretty sure that the owner could accommodate your request. Although I can't be sure that whether the chicken was 100% breast meat, I can be sure that both the chicken and the lamb we were served were fork-tender and well trimmed of all gristly bits.

                1. re: janie

                  I'll take your obvious flame bait:

                  Sabor Tropical
                  Brasavile Cafe
                  BZ Grill
                  Trattoria L'Incontro
                  Himalaya Tea House
                  Bistro 33
                  The Beer Garden
                  Piccola Venezia
                  Kebab Cafe
                  One of the several Bosnian grill places I don't know the names of

                  1. re: Astoria Lurker

                    We're getting off topic, but yeah! Although I'd probably put only about half of those places as being worth going to from outside of Astoria... (Oh, and don't forget Koliba! Much better Czech food than the Beer Garden, and definitely worth a trip of you're looking for that kind of thing!)

                    1. re: Harlan

                      Yes, Koliba is much better. The Beer GArden's stale bread and overdone sausages are not the reason for a trip to the place...go for the BEER and the green ambience. That's why it's a BEER GARDEN!

                    2. re: Astoria Lurker

                      I'd add Locale on 34th Ave. and 32nd Street.

              3. re: Cheese Boy

                Hmmm...don't be too quick. See below

              4. I agree. It was so hard to satisfy Tikka Masala craving in Astoria without hopping on 2 trains to go to Jackson Heights. We tried Seva last night and are wowed. The restaurant was full even on Tuesday night...phones were ringing off the hook for deliveries but still the staff gave us all the attention. We had Chicken Tikka Masala and Lamb Biryani - both amazing. They have a pretty unique dessert called Gulab Jamun (it is a honey dumpling. Mango lassi was a perfect cooler after the spicy treat. What I liked is the waiter asked us how spicy we would like our dishes to be - see it is not one size fits all. We found their delivery special very resonable( $11 for app,entree,rice,dessert) and they even deliver in Ditmars area. For now they are offering BYOB without any corkage fee. Good Job Seva! Welcome to the neighborhood.

                1. Thanks melon for the heads up about this place, we went tonight, Wednesday, at about 9ish..was empty when we got there ,but then 2 other tables filled up. Owner was very gracious, and super kind to our toddler..and most importantly, the food was outstanding, and the price and portions very fair. Everything tasted very fresh, and it was served with lots of care and attention. Their lunch special at $8 and their dinner special at $12 is a real bargain. My husband got the dinner special which comes with an appetizer, entree and dessert. He had the green chili chicken, vegetable samosa, and rice pudding dessert. The green chili sauce was excellent, not a drop of grease anywhere! All the flavors were delightfully distinguished from one another, and not sauced into one undefined mess like I've had at so many other places. The owner said this mostly came with white chicken but would make sure it only had white for my husband since he doesn't like dark meat chicken. It also came with a very nice basmati rice served individually in copper pots. The chutney's served complimentary were excellent also. We also had the garlic nan, which was exceptional, light airy, not heavy at all, and not greasy at all, just with the essence of garlic, and big portion of it. I had the Chicken Tikka which is breast white meat, Tandoori, served with tomato slices ,green pepper and onion slices, and a wonderful yogurt raita. Chicken was cooked perfectly, tender, and not overcooked or undercooked, just perfect and juicy. The vegetable samosa appetizer was a huge potato and green pea samosa with a light crust and again, no heavy greasy taste. Everything we had was delicate in its composition, and its presentation.

                  This could be what De Mole is for Mexican in Sunnyside, Seva could be for Indian in Astoria. It's small, friendly, authentic, and lovingly prepared.

                  We'll be back again very soon.............would love to hear from others that have tried the vegetarian stuff....

                  The owner was telling us he lives very nearby, and he couldn't find any food he liked, so his wife urged him to open the place...smart lady!

                  Go chowhounders, and report back!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: janie

                    I strongly second all the positive things people have said about Seva! Stopped by there on my way home from work this evening because I was intrigued by the menu, which offers a lot of great dishes not found in the other Indian restaurants around the 'hood.

                    I ordered the pakora appetizer (mixture of cauliflower, onion and potato fritters) and baghare baigan (baby eggplant with sesame tamarind sauce) entree. The owner told me that baghare baigan is a popular dish in Hyderabad so he decided to put it on the menu. He also said that he was going to be changing the menu with the seasons - very exciting news!

                    The pakora was fantastic, particularly the cauliflower and onion pieces. I liked that you could actually distinguish whole pieces of veg, as opposed to a mashed up mess I've seen at other places. Also, the flavor of the veg itself was very apparent and not overwhelmed by the batter or too much salt.

                    The baghare baigan was even more delicious! Even in its takeout container it looked so appetizing and well-arranged. It had whole baby eggplants that were cooked perfectly in a very thick, greaseless and perfectly spiced sauce. Even the rice deserves mention since it was so moist and tender. One would think this should be a given, but after a lot of dry, old rice at places that shall remain unnamed...

                    Lastly, the BYOB + no corking charge puts it way up there in my book!

                    I'll definitely be back for the goa fish curry, butternut squash soup and fennel kaddu (sweet yellow pumpkin, fennel seeds and nutmeg)!

                  2. 5 Star Punjabi Diner on 21st street south of the bridge. Do a search, it's well regarded. I ate there yesterday. $9 lunchs pecial, free nan, etc. My fav indian place citywide.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: 2slices

                      I used to live right by 5 Star Punjab, in a converted industrial loft. Definitely the highlight of a sparse neighborhood. I've been meaning to go back for the lunch special for ages. They also make a damn good navratan curry, especially if you ask for it spicy.

                      Thanks for the rec. of Seva, I'm craving Indian and am really glad to hear about this new option in the neighborhood!

                    2. i got take out this week. chicken jal fry, asked for it spicy, it was, and damn good.

                      i'm grateful for this place in the hood.

                      1. And get this: You can order from Seva online!!! I think I'm in love! www.sevaindianrestaurant.com

                        1. My husband and I ordered from Seva last night. In general, we have really high standards when it comes to food, just because if it's not good AND clean, we'll be in pain in the bathroom (sorry, TMI); you get the point.
                          So Seva is delicious. I ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala and he ordered the Aloo Gobi. Just as everyone had written, it wasn't greasy at all. The Masala sauce was buttery and divine. The Aloo Gobi was cooked so it wasn't too mushy, not too crisp. And the garlic naan was simply irresistible.
                          We also had the gulab juman dessert, which wasn't too, too sweet.
                          We'll definitely return. It was seriously a delight.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: scooper212

                            Several of us are going tomorrow (Tues 7/29) night at 7pm. My e-mail address is on my home page here on CH if anyone else is interested.

                          2. We've been to Seva several times recently and it is terrific! Really, the owner could not be nicer and more accommodating. What sets this place apart from other Indians is the lightness of the food -- the owner told us that he does not make heavy use of ghee/butters. We've had the pakoras, soups, chicken tikka, tandoori mixed grill, there so far. All were excellent and light as a feather. Ditto the nans and other breads. The REAL treat here is the kheer (rice pudding) dessert -- absolutely delicious (and again, very light). We intend to go to Seva regularly, and have signed up on their web site for delivery as well. Many thanks to melon for the initial heads-up: this place was a real find.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ribbons

                              This thread has been very accurate so far. As some have said, it's not a destination place but it's way above the average local Indian food. Three of us went the other night and ordered 3-4 apps, 5 mains (yeah, we overeat... we also left over... wanted to try things) and had a very good meal. All fresh, non greasy and, as others have said, lighter than the usual. It's not the Jackson Diner of 20 years ago in that there isnt the same depth to the dishes, but the fact that even the breads are prepared on the spot give it an edge to most, if not all, local competitors. I'll easily go back. Nice find "melon".

                              By the way, I never noticed that Zabb Thai opened a branch just around the corner on 30th Ave. This branch as good as Roosevelt Ave?

                            2. After coming across this board last night my boyfriend and I decided to try Seva. While nearly all the reviews were glowing, it was consistently repeated that this is not a restaurant to seek out-- so we weren't sure what to expect. Overall the meal was really really impressive. We started with the Bok Choy Curls and the Crab Cakes (?!!). While definitely fried, the bok choy the batter was very light and the predominant flavor was the vegetable (the yogurt dipping sauce it came with was excellent). I was a little concerned about crab cakes from an Indian restaurant my boyfriend cannot pass up crab cakes, anywhere. They were the biggest shock of the meal, in a wonderful way. The coating was very thin and the garam masala play wonderfully with the crab. The owner informed us that this was one of his newer dishes, a dish common in the Goa region. For entrees we had the Chicken Tikka Masala and the Lamb Biryani, as well as some Garlic Nan. The chicken was wonderful, the dish was so much more complex than I had had at other restaurants. The lamb biryani was good, simple, and the lamb was cooked perfectly. The nan was light, not the doughy brick seen at other restaurants. All this, with a wonderful mango lassi and complimentary dessert, came to $35! I will definitely be back here again very soon (to try to baby eggplant dish and green chili chicken-- owners recs), a really impressive meal.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: jdream

                                Went today for a late lunch, excellent chicken tikka , tried the baby eggplant dish, which was really so delicate and sweet, with a savory rich sauce. Not like anything I've ever had at any Indian restaurant. The owner said these tiny little eggplants, are very difficult to find, and Jackson Heights is about the only place to get them as they are grown by Indians who live there. He says they are very popular in India. A great dish for a veg or vegan. In fact, after looking over the menu again, I would say Seva is a definite find for any vegan or vegetarian, as their food is subtle, fresh, and expertly prepared.

                                Tried the boy choy appetizer mentioned above, was curious, very good portion and very light batter, a nice starter, kind of like the fried watercress at Srip, it had that vibe to it, came with a yogurt chutney dip. Quite good and reasonable at $3. It's nice to be able to eat some fried apps that are fried but aren't heavy at all. I usually get such indigestion from Indian food, but I have yet, to have any problem here, everything is very fresh, and light.

                                The green chili chicken is so great there, I can't think that Spicy Mina or anyone can top that sauce they have. And the service is excellent, and professional. I think all the Spicy Mina devotees owe themselves a trip to Seva, because I think they will be impressed.

                                Great Garlic Naan and chutneys rock.
                                Table next to us had vegetable meatballs that looked great, and Prawn Korma which looked excellent, too.

                                Would like to hear from anyone who's had the curries, and other grilled stuff, and the biryani's..........

                                Besides the great food, must mention that the owner is such a sweetheart, he couldn't possibly be any nicer, and they are really really friendly and patient to babies and toddlers.

                                This place really deserves the support, please go! It is just wonderful!

                                1. re: janie

                                  just a quick note to my post yesterday, got chana Masala to go to eat for lunch today when I was there last night. Microwaved it, and it was a huge portion, I think my stomach is going to explode! Anyway, it was very good and a really good value. Another good pick for the vegan or veg. I've had lots of versions of chana masala that have been much more acidic than this, and in fact Dosa Diner used to make a pretty good one, but this one's way very hearty and rich. A complete meal.

                              2. After having such a great first experience I have since been back twice. I hate to have to write this (and I will still try them again, in part because there are such limited options for Indian food in Astoria) but because I endorsed them so enthusiastically the first time-- but the last 2 times really were quite lackluster. One experience, in the restaurant about 2 weeks ago, the apps were really heavy and somewhat bland (the lamb spring roll being the exception). The 2nd experience was with delivery. The chicken tikka masala tasted like super thick tomato soup. The bread had a raw/yeasty/doughy flavor that was sour and awful. And even the rice was super dry and clumpy. I hope that they swing back up to their standard when they opened.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: jdream

                                  Did you talk to the owner about it? Because he is always so personable coming over to the table always asking us what we think of everything. He is very interested in pleasing his customers. I think he would respond favorably if you asked him if there had been some sort of recent change, as you noticed a different quality to the food. I was there about 3 weeks ago, and everything was delicious.

                                  1. re: janie

                                    Wow, now, after I tried this place at chowhounders' recs this weekend I finally read some posts that don't gush about it. I wish I'd had this context before I spent my money there...food def not up to snuff. Yes, extremeley unctuous waitstaff. But I got a Lamb Korma and my wife a Lamb Vindallo figuring we'd try to ends of basic spectrum to evaluate this place that we noticed opening some time ago. Wow. Not good at all. The rice was not the sublime bismati of say a much cheaper and dirtier place like the taxi spot Roti Boti on 21st and Astoria Blvd. It was overcooked and tasteless. The dishes themselves kind of reminded me of shopping mall Indian in a place like Charlotte, NC. Really, not at all pleased. Perhaps this snippet overheard from the nexgt table explains rave reviews: "Dude, how about sushi?" Woman: "Ewww...raw fish?!?" Finding really good Indian food in NYC can be challenging, but given my first visit this is NOT the place to start and is certainly not the Jackson Diner of decades past!

                                  2. re: jdream

                                    Yeah, jdream, that's been my experience. I note that the raves are all from much earlier in the summer. What about those of us in the fall???Sorry if this breaks heart of summer folks but the food was pretty bland, the rice dry, and the service insipidly unctuous

                                    1. re: zemilideias

                                      My wife and I have eaten there several times, she is an Indian food fanatic, I'm not. However, I enjoy the food at Seva. We took her son there, also an Indian foodie, and he loved it. True the service is slow and uneven, but I can live with that. What I can't live with are the horrible paper napkins (I'm thinking of bringing my own linen one, but Mrs. S. says that is too too....), the plastic-like plates, and the blaring "music"(?).. I do like the BYO policy. Long may it wave.

                                      We're having a birthday party tonight for my wife's daughter and Seva is catering it. I'll report back on Saturday the opinions of the attendees.

                                      1. re: Stuartmc910

                                        The party (food) was a huge success. All the delvered dishes were excellent and "traveled well" (we live about 15 minutes from Seva). I have no qualms reccomending Seva for a sit down meal or take out.

                                        1. re: Stuartmc910

                                          great to know, haven't been in awhile. Are they still having their dinner and lunch specials?

                                  3. My wife and I ate there Saturday night and it was excellent. It is BYO so you save in that respect. We had vegetarian dishes and each one was better than the other! As mentioned the service was excellent and the owner came over to ask us how we were enjoying ourselves.

                                    I do have two objections; the plastic type plates and the paper napkins. Just a conceit of mine. They do, however, remove the dirty appetizer silverware and replace it with clean ones, a nice touch missing form most mid-priced places.

                                    1. We ate there last night (Sunday night). The place was full and given the cold night, the place was very warm. The food was delicious and the price was right. We normally go to Balushi's on Queens Blvd, but this place is our new fav. Highly recommended and will go again.

                                      1 Reply