Curry Leaf on Lex / Cambodian Cuisine on 3rd
In an attempt to hasten labor for my 39 week pregnant wife, we hit both of these restaurants this week hoping that a little heat might encourage some movement. Here are our thoughts about both.
Back in the day, when I lived in brooklyn, I'd bike to cambodian cuisine in fort greene quite frequently, often pairing it with a trip to bam. So I was thrilled to go there, knowing that the same team was behind this place. I was (and am still shocked) that its in this new location (93rd and 3rd), as the last time I hung out there I was hanging out with my preppiest of friends, who are all in i-banking or what not. Overall, everyone liked the place, though I liked it the least. It didn't compare to my memory, but its possible that I've elevated the food in my mind. We got the fish cake apps, which were decent, the beef skewers, which were good, and the fresh rolls, which were fair. I've definitely had better south asian fish cakes. The fresh rolls were fine, but as something that I make myself once in a while I was hoping for something better than what I make. Ultimately, I prefer my fresh rolls with more herbage, vietnamese style.
For mains we got the chicken ahmok and two noodle dishes, one fried noodles, the other regular. OK. I would go back for the chicken ahmok, it was tender, coconutty and delicious. The noodle dishes were good, covered in peanuts (and the sauce for all the apps was peanut), but nothing earth shattering. We found the heat to be weak (the fried noodle dish was supposed to be spicy), even though we specifically said we like spicy food. I've been to cambodia, and been to SE Asia several times, so I was a bit dismayed at the lack of heat. And I dont think its the same if you just add some chili sauce.
Overall, I am glad we have cambodian back, and I think it fills in the niche with a cuisine that is unique yet still very SE asian (meaning if you like thai or vietnmaese but want to try something new...). I will go back and try other stuff.
On to curry leaf. I still haven't found to northern indian cuisine what I feel towards saravanaas and southern indian cuisine (love maybe?). So with recs from here, esp by people who share sentiments towards saravanaas we went to curry leaf on lex. And though I dont think its as clear cut a winner as saravannas, I was quite pleased.
We ordered 3 mains: Lamb Vindaloo, Chicken Tandoori, and Saag Paneer. We (again, the whole labor thing) specified we want the lamb spicy (as vindaloo is typically a very hot dish) but nonetheless were served a very flavorful but mildly hot dish with very moist pieces of lamb. If it were a bit hotter it would've been perfect. I crave chicken tandoor ever since getting the real deal in india, and this was pretty close. I know that because I was sucking juicy white meat off of the bone just like I did back there, and that in my mind the hallmark of good tandoor is how juicy even the white meat is when its done well. Alot (and I mean alot) of stateside tandoori chicken is dry. So thats good. The saag paneer was a nice side, very creamy, probably lots of ghee, but well flavored and I enjoyed.
I would definitely go back to curry leaf the next time I have a hankering for northern indian cuisine.
Tonight we will hit Rhong Tiam
Curry Leaf was always a personal favorite. Other Hounds have reported underwhelming experiences at lunch, but the dinners always did me fine. They're owned by the Kalyustan's folks, so the spicing (i.e., flavor, not heat) is a step above other Northern Indian I've tried in the area. I'm sure they'd be happy to kick up the heat index, particularly on the Vinadoo if you asked.
Another place worth trying in the area for Northern Indian is Minar on 31st and 5th. I believe they close early, so go there for lunch.
Went to Cambodian Cuisine tonight. It was my first experience with Cambodian cuisine, i had nothing to compare it with. Being by myself I ordered the Fish Cakes and Chicken Ahmok.
I thought both dishes were very delicious especially the fish cakes.
The Chicken Ahmok was quite a surprise. It was presented looking like large pancake with a circle of red pepper on top, with a few leaves of steamed collard greens underneath, sitting in a clear broth . It was seved with either brown or white rice. It has 2 chilies next to it but was very mildly spiced.
The restaurant is large and for a Sunday night on the UES quite empty. Service was very prompt and efficient, and I will very likely go back when I return from Cambodia.