Indian Chinese ("Manchurian") in Manhattan?
I wandered past a place called Chinese Mirch in the Flatiron District on the way to I Trulli (with the obligatory stop at Kalustyan's) the other day -- is it any good? Is there another Indo-Chinese place in Manhattan that's better?
I'm not sure if there's any other place in Manhattan that's better, but I hated the food when I was there (caveat -- it was about 3 years ago). It was gloppy and carelessly prepared. I was wondering if I was just comparing it to the much better Tangra Masala in Queens. But as I think about it some more, I can honestly say that it was terrible, whether or not I compared it to Tangra. If my first experience at Indo-Chinese was at Chinese Mirch, I'm not so sure if I would have tried another place.
If you've already had Indian-Chinese, I would not try Chinese Mirch. It's really not worth it. If you're not familiar with the cuisine and want to try it and don't have time to go to Queens, I would give it a go. But if you don't like it, please remember there are much better restaurants that do this type of food out there.
re: Miss Needle
I had a similar experience as you, Miss Needle, at Chinese Mirch around the same time it seems. I also did not like Tangra Masala (although I visited the Sunnyside location, not the Elmhurst).
To be fair, I have eaten Indian Chinese a few times in Mumbai and found that I am not much of a fan.
I’ve been a dozen or so times and think the place is worthwhile. While I have ended my love affair with the lollipop chicken, just nothing special any more, there are other things I like a lot. I really love the crispy Szechuan lamb a lot and the Mirch 65 “chicken spiked with curry leaves & red hot chilies” is just outstanding. Soups are good, chicken in hot garlic sauce is a solid B, but to me the Manchurian chicken is kind of meh.
If you stick with the dry dishes you will do best.
Different strokes, the one meal I had at Tangra Masala was thoroughly mediocre. Soup was fine, the mo mo dumplings and fish with black bean sauce were tasty, but the hakka noodles were steam table fare. Spicy chicken was okay, the Manchurian goat was disappointing, lacked any character at all, and the chicken pakora was doughy and unpleasant. Never been able to drag myself back.
I think that with your exposure to SGV Chinese food you'd probably find any Indian style Chinese food disappointing, since they do to Chinese food what Americanized Chinese restaurants or Korean style Chinese restaurants do, though in a different manner.
One of my friends, who is a Native Indian, has very recently recommended NanKing in Jackson Heights for "authentic manchurian". The menu is supposedly split between Mughlai Indian and Chinese/Thai. I just also realized they have several locations, one being on Brdwy and W51 in Manhattan. Not sure if the Manhattan location is as good as the JH location which got fabulous reviews on yelp. Anyway, here are some details from a recent dinner I had, had with her at Chinese Mirch.
I was very recently introduced to Indo-Chinese cuisine and my first experience was at Chinese Mirch. One of my friends, from India, suggested it when we were walking around looking for someplace to eat last Spring. She had never eaten there but thought it would be a fun place for us to try.
She was very excited about trying the manchurian and described the procedures her family follows to prepare this dish. My former post (link below) summarizes the details of our dinner and I had also received interesting suggestions in this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/517659
I have become sort of addicted to this cuisine, perhaps it's primarily due to the new flavors; I'm just so darn tired of eating the same thing everyday.
So, although Chinese Mirch was my first exposure to Indo-Chinese cuisine, I've been back there three times since then, the last time being this Monday evening for takeout (Chili Paneer and Mirch 65). I've also tried Indo-Munch which is about 3 blocks north of Chinese Mirch.
I agree with Deb Van D that the Mirch 65 is very good and they are not afraid to serve spicy food even to Americans. Perhaps this is why I like it. The paneer was also good (in both places) but I can only eat so much of it. As mentioned in the link I provided, the Manchurian was a disappointment b/c my friend said it is typically prepared very differently so she felt it wasn't at all authentic. I didn't care for it mostly due to lack of flavor, I guess. As Miss Needle and Deb Van D mentioned, I've also heard others strongly recommend the dry dishes which I was surprised to hear.
So, just thinking back on my experiences, the comments of my friend and the feedback on this thread, I need to head to Queens which I still haven't done. I am hoping to make it there on Aug 5 and will report back. Tangra is on my list, for sure, along with Nan King. Let's see which place I wind up hitting.