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Dec 21, 2008 08:48 PM

Dhaba in Curry Hill

I think Dhaba is relatively new in Curry Hill. Same owners as Chola. I had the buffet lunch. Not bad for a buffet. Had a decent selection of N. Indian food. I loved the okra even though it was lukewarm. They achieved a really great wok hai (I guess I should call it a karhai hai) in the dish. I actually went back for seconds. The chili chicken and chicken tikka masala were decent for a buffet. Wasn't too crazy about the lamb curry as they used the leg meat and it was pretty dry. But the sauce was good. There also had a slightly chunky dal, basmati rice with peas, and mustard greens that were decent. They had this neat dish I've never had it before -- it was essentially small red potatoes stuffed with masala inside in a sauce. Dessert was carrot halva (which I'm not the largest fan of). But their rendition wasn't too bad.

The best thing about Dhaba were the fresh food they gave you tableside. I received some freshly made naan, chapati, and yogurt marinated chicken drumsticks.

So if you're in the mood for meat in Curry Hill where you've got a lot of vegetarian Indian restaurants, Dhaba is a pretty decent choice. And the price is really good for what you get -- $9.95 from Mon-Sat and $12.95 on Sundays.

108 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10016

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  1. I had a similarly good experience for dinner here about a month ago. Coming in and expecting mediocrity, the food was of much higher quality than its peers in the area (Copper Chimney, im looking at you), larger portions, and exceptionally fast and pleasant service. In short, it's one of the better Indian meals i've had at this price point in all of Manhattan.

    1. this place was so crowded when I walked by, and the place next door was completely empty. based on your rec, missneedle, I will have to check it out.

      btw, ever had that buffet downstairs from haandi?

      1 Reply
      1. re: bigjeff

        Wow. I got there around opening time on Saturday and it was pretty empty. Good timing on my part, I guess.

        No, I haven't been to haandi. I don't really eat out North Indian too often because it's too heavy for my taste.

      2. picked up the menu, they push the snack/chaat hard? anyone eaten there a la carte and have good recs? want to avoid the typical stuff and have more snackies. may hit the buffet at some point as well.

        ExFlexitarian, any partic. recs for what you had?

        2 Replies
        1. re: bigjeff

          They haven't really pushed anything on me. I'm a huge fan of the cauliflower and the okra appetizers (dont have the menu and dont remember the names of the dishes). As far as mains go, I really enjoy the quail and just last night tried the paneer mirch (the spicy one) which was really good

          1. re: bigjeff

            I had the tikka masala, vindaloo and an app of the stuffed peppers off their a la carte menu. All certainly good, but I don't know if I would call them really great.

            I will contradict myself a little by saying that the food was *better* than comparable restaurants in the area, and the quantity was much definitely more substantial, without being at a higher price point. I've had so many under-whelming Indian restaurant experiences around Curry Hill / Curry Row, that Dhaba was essentially force ranked to the top of my list.

          2. This place sounds great and I think we'll be trying it tonight. Will we need a reservation? any new recommendations to order? I'll probably just order the mattar paneer I've been craving...

            15 Replies
            1. re: erin07nyc

              We had a recent dinner at Dhaba, four of us. We were completely underwhelmed. From about ten dishes or so only one was very good, the saag panner. All the others were simply lackluster. The signature starters were bland and murky. The eggplant starter had little taste, the chicken wings were cold and had very little meat. They had a lamb sausage like starter that was good. The chicken in the vindaloo was dry as a bone, the sauce was dense. I make better. The rice was fine, the breads were excellent. Service was good, place was packed. We won't return. Frankly, we are in Curry Hill often, buying spices or eating or walking by and Dhaba in the evenings is almost always packed, I'm not sure why.

              We had a dinner about a month ago or so at Balth, almost next door. While that restaurant is smaller, with a smaller menu, we thought the food was much better.

              There are a number of very new spots in Curry Hill and we will have to try those.

              1. re: comiendosiempre

                Funny. We've been to Dhaba about 10 times and we've never had a bad meal. Never.

                Standouts have been the seekh kabob, chili chicken, Bhuna Lamb mirchwala, butter chicken, lamb vindaloo, methi chicken, and the batata sev puri.

                I suspect you've had some of those dishes and didn't like them, proof that people's tastes can vary. It's crowded because a lot of people, most of them Indian, think it's really good.

                1. re: Bob Martinez

                  Yes, people's tastes vary. We have had a number of the dishes we ordered at Dhaba elsewhere, in NYC and in Asia. We cook some of them at home. People like different things. Of the four of us, none of us thought the Dhaba meal was worth repeating. While I'm not a huge fan of food critics, perhaps not surprisingly many give Dhaba lackluster reviews.

                  Regarding diners at Dhaba yes there were South Asians dining there that night; about four of them.

                  Maybe we will try their buffet lunch and see how that goes.

                  1. re: comiendosiempre

                    My husband and I had the buffet lunch recently and we won't be back..

                    1. re: comiendosiempre

                      Only 4 Indians dining at Dhaba? I'm beginning to doubt your veracity.

                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                        When we went to Dhaba, my husband and I were practically the only non-Indians there.

                        Btw, Bob, it was your very positive write-up (with Deb chiming in) which influenced me to try Dhaba. I even jotted down what you had, we ordered a couple of those dishes, and they were very good.

                        Dhaba photos:

                        1. re: RGR

                          Thanks RGR. I'm glad you liked it. For those reading along who haven't been to Dhaba, the NY Times critic liked it as well.


                      2. re: comiendosiempre

                        Haven't had the buffet lunch but the chicken tikka that I've had there once was amazing, the other time was just decent (there was a party of 20+ people that 2nd time.) That party of 20 totally messed with the speed of service too. Neither time was the crowd mostly non-Indian, instead the reverse was true.

                        1. re: comiendosiempre

                          The number of South Asian patrons does not necessarily correlate with quality. My father will eat at any buffet or cab stand so long as he thinks it's good value. I haven't had a full meal at Dhaba since the summer so I may have to revisit. It is not the type of exemplary cooking you will find in a good home, but everything I've had otherwise was perfectly fine, with the chaats being standouts for me.

                        2. re: Bob Martinez

                          The Indian crowds aren't the mark of discriminating tastes in that area. They used to pack the place that was in the Tiffin Wallah space, and Chinese Merch, another favorite, is pretty mediocre. Dhaba has a Bollywood star as one of the owners, so that helps.

                          I like Dhaba's lunch buffet, it's a great deal, but I thought it was was better when they first opened. Everything tastes good, but the flavors aren't going to stay with you like at truly great Indian places. I usually skip the drumsticks served tableside, because they're usually dry, lukewarm, or rubbery. Criticism aside, I think on a good day, it's one the best in the city, and top of the pack for that neighborhood, unless you're looking for vegetarian/dosas.

                          1. re: sugartoof

                            Just had the Sunday buffet lunch at Dhaba, and I agree, I feel like it was better months ago. Not that it was bad, but except for the good chaats served, it was pretty ordinary. It was very crowded though, about half Indian, half not.

                            1. re: janethepain

                              I've also heard mixed things about the buffet, but then, I usually hear mixed things about the buffets at lots of Indian restaurants. When we've gone we've always ordered from their regular menu and been very happy.

                              1. re: Bob Martinez

                                Some buffets use food prepped the previous night, and reheated.

                                Dhaba refreshes their buffet, which usually indicates they're serving from batches made for that nights dinner service. Possibly mixed with less fresh servings, but with curries, and lentils that need to simmer for long periods, it's not uncommon for dinner service to be from the same batch. In some cases the buffet might even be better. Of course, this only applies to certain dishes.

                                1. re: sugartoof

                                  This is my favorite Indian in NYC (other than Dawat)... But, I've never gotten the buffet. The baigan bartha - my standard dish that I judge all Indian restaurants by - is excellent at Dhaba. Anyone I bring there - even people who claim they dont like Indian - love it.

                                  210 E. 58th St., New York, NY 10022

                        3. re: comiendosiempre

                          Also found Dhaba to be utterly underwhelming. I don't recall a single dish out of 5 or 6 that made any particular impression apart from pervasive mediocrity. I previously had the occasional take out and enjoyed it enough to return..only to be sorely disappointed. Scratch this one of the list.

                      3. just ate there for the 3rd time this week. the street foods are fantastic, the "curries" flavorful, the beer list varied, if not extensive, the service friendly