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Best Indian Food in the City...

Hello all,
Can you please recommend the place where to get the best Indian food in Manhattan? It wouldn't hurt if it had some ambience as well, but great food is more important.


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  1. The best food and the best ambience are both to be found at Devi, though this is very elevated restaurant-style Indian and not heavy home-cooking. Dawat is also worth considering. Saravanaas is terrific for veg, though my Gujerati friends prefer Vatan which I find a bit tacky --- though not much more so than those awful fairy-lit restaurants on 6th St.

    12 Replies
    1. re: JungMann

      Seconded with Devi. Great, rather haute Indian cuisine, with VERY nice ambiance.

      1. re: psybab

        I use to be on the Devi boat but, I feel like things have gone down.. The last two times I ate there one being three months ago and then two months ago, I didnt feel good after going. Felt the food was expensive and just ok.. The last time, a lot of the people at the dinner of 10 we had didnt feel good the next day.

      2. re: JungMann

        What kind of Indian food are you looking for? If you are looking for the standard North Indian/Pakistani food
        * High End
        Bombay Talkies, Tamarind, Devi, Chola (though it's bit more south India inspired)
        * Medium-priced and/or divy
        Curry in a hurry (stick to biryanis), Kabab King in Jackson heights (stick to kababs), Jackson Diner in Jackson Heights. Brick Lane Curry house in EV is not bad but make sure you don't ever set foot in any other Indian restaurants around there (especially the ones with creepy lights).

        For south indian food, I find "Chenna Garden" to be better than Sarvanas. You may want to try Chinese Mirch which serves Indian-Chinese cuisine.

        1. re: parth

          Chennai Garden is indeed an underrated South Indian option. I actually prefer Saravana to it although I feel Saravana is slightly off (the sambar is not sour enough and it feels like they make the idli more sour to compensate, perhaps by extra fermenting).

          Thanks for Biryani tip on Curry in Hurry. I never go there ever after 2 terrible experiences.. I prefer Haandi on next block for the $8.00 "Meat Combination Platter".. that's my "cheap indian" fix.

          1. re: shanshan

            I liked Chennai Garden fine, though I think I prefer Saravanaas. I remember the food being a little richer-tasting. The chicken biryani at Haandi is surprisingly good given its appearances.

            1. re: JungMann

              I think you hit it on the head.. the sambar there is richer and for some reason feels more hearty to me. I sometimes ask them for a side of lemon to squeeze into it to add the tartness I am looking for.. but not the same.. I think what I may be looking for is more tamarind..

              1. re: JungMann

                FYI, went to Coconut Grove today on a whim. Not great, but I guess a little different than other places. the sambar was watered down.. felt like it could have been thickened up a little. idli I thought needed a little salt. they hada "chili idli manchurian" on the menu but I didn't get it. There was a large amount of thali's and non-vegetarian options. I wasn't expecting that at all. A lot of the curries seemed to have coconut. I got a dosa with chicken kurma (yes.. dosa + chicken curry). Worked out OK.. dosa wasn't too creasy and the chicken curry was fine.. a little different than I am used to with the cocunut added, so I appreciated it. Don't think it was good enough for me to come back given so many other options in the area I have yet to try.. but dosa + chicken curry was a novel combination for me which I appreciated..

                1. re: shanshan

                  Where is Coconut Grove? I've never heard of them before.

                  1. re: JungMann

                    one of the new curry hill establishments.. looks new.. its on same block as Dhaba and Pongal I believe..

                    1. re: JungMann

                      Coconut Grove was replaced by Deepam. Deepam was replaced by Diwali. Diwali also closed and was replaced by Cinnammon. Cinnammon food was good but closed recently. Chennai Garden Pongal is good. Dhaba food is tasteless. Bhojan food is way too oily and just not worth it. Saravanaa Bhavan food is good. Most Lexington Avenue restaurants with the exception of Bhatti and Saravanaa bhavan fared badly in recent NYC health inspections

                      81 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                      Chennai Garden
                      129 E 27th St, New York, NY 10016

                      100 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                      102 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                      Saravanaa Bhavan
                      413 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024

                    2. re: shanshan

                      jungmann, shanshan,

                      i ate at Coconut Grove following some of the chatter on these threads and also sietsema's writeup [ http://www.villagevoice.com/2009-09-2... ]. we went on a whim as well, did not like the food; it was underseasoned and just not good.

                      we had the lamb curry entree as a thali (curry plus a ton of stuff) and also had a fish curry with dosa. they had two or three different lamb dishes; this was the one with mint, cilantro, coconut; served in a murky green sauce. the thali came with quite a bit of "accessories" (nice roti, nice dal, nice subzi, some nice kheer) and for the price, $16.95, you get a lot. major complaint: very little rice!

                      the fish curry came with a different style dosa that tasted very much like injera; fermented, soft like iddli, actually quite nice. two 10" rounds, about 1/8" thick.

                      the menu says that everything is made to order and accordingly, we waited about 20 minutes for our entrees to arrive, which is ok cuz they had serious bollywood videos on. however, both curries suffered from the same problem: even though they say made to order, i think what they refer to is that the curry "sauce" is pre-made, but they cook the meat in whatever sauce, to order. the result is that the low-quality meat and fish were extremely bland, picked up none of the flavor of the curries themselves. easy case where "cooked to order" is bad. you could literally taste the sysco bags of pre-cubed (maybe pre-cooked) lamb meat being dumped into vats of curry and in the case of the fish (which was firm but, did not taste fresh at all), the same thing. coconut sambar served with the dosa was bland.

                      the dining experience itself was nice; it got packed after we set down (random weeknight around 7pm) but nowhere near as packed as Dhaba right next door (and this was the case with the restaurant which coconut grove replaced; i remember seeing it deadly silent while dhaba was bumping, a couple months ago). staff were good, restaurant looked nice but i will never eat there again. however; there were some very good looking paper dosa being trotted out.

                      Coconut Grove
                      106 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                2. re: parth

                  if you make it all the way to jackson heights, skip The Diner and head to any number of superior spots: karahi and grill (old roti boti), deshi, kababish, delhi heights, rajhbog, alauddin's sweetmeat, al naimat for their buffet.

                  I've still not eaten there but Yuva gets good reviews for both their food and decor.

                1. re: guttergourmet

                  Glad to hear it! I've been thinking about having a birthday dinner there.

                2. I like Nirvana, on Lexington &39, great food, lovely atmosphere, attentive service

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: rkaene

                    I ate at Nirvana years ago, it was on the 15th floor overlooking Central Park, but they closed down, do you know if this Nirvana is the same?

                    1. re: TampaNativeThatLovesNYC

                      wow blast from the past.. I remember that Nirvana as well! I haven't been to this new Nirvana on Lex/39.. but I'd be surprised if it was the same.

                      1. re: shanshan

                        I was just curious on whether or not it was the same owner's. It was a great place from what I remember, it was about 9 years ago, great view of the park, great atmospher! It was the first time I ever ate Indian!

                    2. I am a Devi fan, but would have to include Taj in the list (18 Murray Street, Tribeca). We went there on Saturday night and had a really good meal - tandoori chicken with mint, lamb vindaloo, and sag paneer. It was beautifully served, very tasty, spicy, and moderately priced.

                      1. My wife and I like taking friends and family from out of town to Chola. The menu has a fairly diverse mix of South and North Indian dishes, veg and non-veg. For more downscale S. Indian, we like Chennai Garden and Tiffin Wallah in Curry Hill. She's Tamil and has high standards when it comes to Indian food.

                        I need to disagree with the Tamarind recommendation. Things may have changed (we went there over five years ago) but the one time we went did not inspire us to return. The flavors were not Indian in the slightest. No heat whatsoever. I don't need things to be insanely hot, but it needs to be authentic.

                        1. I am a big fan of Curry Leaf, owned by the same people who own Kalustian's Market up the street. The Chicken Makhani and the Saag Gosht are excellent.

                          Curry Leaf
                          99 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                          1. If you like South Indian food (though they have some vegetarian North Indian food on the menu,) then I would suggest Pongol on Lex and 26th. I think they have a great combo of atmosphere, service and delicious food. Much better than Saravanaas where the service is horrible, the lines are long and the food is not worth the wait. Pongol has amazing dosas and very good veg North Indian food.

                            For North Indian food I like Dhaba (though it is super noisy at night) and Chola. Both have some very good and different options that you don't see on every Indian menu in the city. I especially like the goat dishes at both places.

                            1. Check out this 188-post thread from the Outer Boroughs board


                              1. Best Indian Food:

                                That is a question that is complicated to answer. I'm assuming you are not looking for regional nuances or an overly prolix response.

                                1. Nirvana - Offers consistently competent dishes that are well seasoned and uses ingredients that are superior to long faded stalwarts, Dawat and Chola. The quality of their meats and spices are simply better. They serve an exceedingly fine rasmalai that is bar none. Classic chicken tikka rendered superbly with fresh tomato cream flavor. Goat curry meltingly tender and fragrant. Their lunch buffet is the most upscale Indian value in Manhattan.

                                2. Southern Spice - Serving authentic south Indian cuisine that surpasses all other borough Indian restaurants. The chicken 65 is a signature dish that sings with flavors including lime, pepper, ginger, curry leaf and cilantro, Chicken 65 is THE dish. Their hyderbadi biryani is the rice dish at its home cooked finest. This is the Indian equivalent to Sripraphai.

                                Chola and Dawat both suffer from execution problems and lack focus. Yuva is the best of the three and Nirvana is even better. Surya underspices and overcooks its meats. Tamarind is overpriced and lacks Indian soul. Tiffin Wallah is the best budget bet but strictly vegetarian. Jewel of India. among some previously mentioned, is laughably Americanized. Amma has distinctly odd flavorings and their cook lacks technical proficiency.

                                Last but not least, Jackson Diner is one of the most vile Indian restaurants in NYC, notwithstanding the 6th avenue christmas pepper light kistchfests that serve mystery meat. The food is greasy, ill-prepared, lacking in the essential clarity of spicing that is integral to Indian cuisine and the ingredients are subpar. If you have been recommended Jackson Diner by a poster, ignore all further recommendations of Indian restaurants by said individual.

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: Pookipichu

                                  Pookipichu, THANK YOU! Nirvana just turned up in a Google search for Chicken 65. So, of course, I did a Chowhound search to get the scoop only to find your post. I completely agree with your take on Amma (sadly so as I had high hopes after reading reviews and chatting with the amazing manager by phone), Dawat, Tamarind and Chola. Haven't tried the others and Jackson Diner was never, ever a possibility.

                                  Anyway, it was so great to hear this feedback from someone who seems to know far more about Indian cuisine than I do; I thought it was just me. I am absolutely looking forward to trying Nirvana AND Southern Spice which I would have never heard of had I not stumbled across your post. Wow, this worked out perfectly for me! I'm assuming Southern Spice is on 45th Avenue near Kissena Blvd, correct? YUMMM!! Thanks again!

                                  1. re: nativeNYer

                                    You are quite welcome, if I can be even half as helpful as Kathryn, I will have done my foodie duty.

                                    Nirvana does serve Chicken 65, but it is very different from Southern Spice. Nirvana uses strips of chicken, and the seasoning and heat is much less aggressive. Similar to Chicken Pakora actually. They cannot be as bold, serving Manhattanites. Southern Spice uses cubed pieces of chicken and has a potent, pungent peppery heat. Most times it is dry sauteed perfectly, sometimes not.

                                    Southern Spice is indeed located at 45th Avenue near Kissena Blvd. Be forewarned that there is no double door and cold wind blasts in when the door opens. The food is delicious, the desserts are not. Their rasmalai has the hardness of Swiss cheese and is very poorly done. The kheer is very thin and could use more cardamom. I have yet to try their gulab jamun but do not have high hopes for it.

                                    If you like Indian desserts, do try the rasmalai at Nirvana and request it with a touch of rose water. Their rasmalai is the gold standard and always fresh, always homemade, light, pillowy.

                                    I am an Indian food fanatic and the last straw with Chola, for me, was oversalted, tough, gristled lamb vindaloo and rasmalai THAT HAD COME OUT OF A CAN. It was the exact same shape, rubbery squeaky texture and size as those that come from canned rasmalai I once bought at Patel Brothers. It was disgusting. The manager removed the charge after I complained and I lamented how they used to make it from scratch. Unacceptable.

                                    Lastly I forgot to mention the Jackson Heights alternative to Jackson Diner, Delhi Palace. It has gone downhill in the past 5 years but it will always be superior to Jackson Diner if you are in the neighborhood.

                                    346 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10001

                                  2. re: Pookipichu

                                    I had dinner at Nirvana recently: samosas and chicken 65 to start, shikari mutton (bone-in goat curry), dal tadka, peas pulao, and roti as the main meal, and kulfi and rasmalai for dessert. I was eating alone and was not hugely hungry, so was not able to sample more. It's a restaurant worth returning to, but based on this one experience I can't bring myself to rave about it.

                                    The samosas were greasy, the filling tired and jaded (although spicy), and the pastry a little stale and soft (not crisp). I'd bet anything they were warmed over, not freshly fried. I couldn't help thinking that I was eating yesterday's filling in that morning's pastry. The chicken 65 was the better of the two dishes -- the chicken tender, the coating decently spiced. But here, as well, there was a certain dullness to the taste, not the fresh burst of complex flavors you get from the best Indian food. It registered more as "generally tasty" on my tongue, not as "I can taste ginger, and curry leaf, and cumin". The accompanying chutneys were each in their own way impressively bad. The mint chutney was harshly minty, not the balance you should have of mint, coriander, etc. The onion chutney had the depressingly neon-red color that Indian restaurateurs seem to feel non-Indians demand, and it too had a harsh one-dimensional kick to it (cayenne in this case), rather than the marriage of flavors you need in a good chutney. The tamarind chutney was more like a tamarind glaze -- sweet, pasty, and with a strange sheen. When I lifted a spoon from it, thin elastic strands stretched from the spoon back into the bowl.

                                    The dal was the tastiest dish I had. It had a satisfying kick from the tadka of cumin seeds and dried red chillies, and the fresh, chopped coriander leaves in it provided the appropriate counterpoint. It was also nicely buttery (more precisely, ghee-ey). I'd have preferred a lighter version (made with, say, masoor, rather than the heavier channa dal), but this was still a good rendition of a dish that may restaurants inexplicably botch. The goat curry was disappointing. The meat was, indeed, very tender and fell off the bone, but the curry itself, although thick and rich,was astonishingly free of flavor. It was undersalted, to start, not over-. But it was hard to taste anything in it all, beyond a mild, generic "curry" taste. It was pleasant enough, and perfectly edible, but also perfectly unmemorable. The accompanying roti (a tandoori roti, actually, although the menu did not say so) was quite good: chewy, dry (without being dried out) and nicely blistered and charred in spots.

                                    The desserts returned me to planet disappointment. The kulfi was strangely sticky. It used the appropriately reduced, caramelized milk that many U.S. versions of this abused dish dispense with altogether, and the chopped pistachios on it were crisp and lovely, but the texture was odd. I suspect cornstarch. The rasmalai was fine -- the patties soft and the milk in which they floated fresh -- but I prefer (personal preference) the patties to have a slight "squeak" to them, rather than seem like simply compressed cheese, and the milk to be reduced a little more than it was in this somewhat thin version. I can't second the suggestion that you ask for rosewater. I did, and the dish they served had an unpleasant initial acrid-chemical odor to it. It quickly dissipated, and I was able to enjoy the dish, but that first whiff was off-putting. (Old rosewater has that off smell.)

                                    I'll return to try other dishes, but I can't say that this experience convinces me to elevate Nirvana over Chola. I last ate at Chola in late December, and while it, too, had its defects (I've long since stopped ordering desserts there, by the way), the food was overall more distinctive.

                                    Oh, and I asked about the connection with the Central Park Nirvana (at which I, too, ate with enjoyment a decade or so ago). There's a nebulous link having to do with uncles of cousins, but it's clear that there's no culinary lineage.

                                    346 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10001

                                    1. re: FoodDabbler

                                      I am very sorry you had a lackluster experience. The goat curry was excellently spiced the last time I had it. I can't say that Nirvana is the most consistent restaurant (I eat there quite a lot) but it has been much better for me than Chola (which was my default place).

                                      I am very communicative when I order at restaurants, demanding even. When I first went to Nirvana, I told them of my experiences at other Indian restaurants and their lack of adequate spicing, that I wanted to taste authentic Indian flavors. They lived up to my expectation and they know me at the restaurant. Perhaps that has colored my experience. I am confident though that the chef at Nirvana is capable of the best Indian food in the city and that the quality of ingredients they use are consistently above their brethren for the most part.

                                      I have never tried their kulfi and cannot comment but I am surprised by the reaction to the rasmalai. I have tried rasmalai all over the three boroughs of manhattan, queens and brooklyn and find Nirvana to have the consistently freshest and best textured rasmalai. Squeaky rasmalai is overcooked :)

                                      1. re: Pookipichu

                                        As I'd said, I plan to eat there again. Perhaps I should have prefaced my remarks (or ended them) with the statement that Nirvana is clearly a serious restaurant and, therefore, deserves serious discussion. Most Indian restaurants in the U.S. are too bad to even be worth mentioning. But Nirvana is clearly in a higher category. It deserves mention, but, as a consequence, must also be judged by higher standards. The goal is to prod the better Indian restaurants here into reaching the heights that top quality Indian food is capable of. I attended a talk given by Ferran AdriĆ  last year where he was modestly claiming innovation after culinary innovation. But some of the things he claimed -- marrying unexpected and improbable tastes and textures; fooling the tongue to expect one thing, then giving it another; challenging the palate with extreme tastes -- are already present in, say, Indian street food. Bhel puri, pani puri, various chaats all achieve the complexity that he said he had introduced. The dream (for me) is to find a restaurant in the U.S. that *consistently* scales these heights.

                                        I agree with you on the freshness of the rasmalai at Nirvana. I respectfully (and with trepidation -- for you're clearly a formidable foodhound) disagree with you on the best texture for rasmalai. The squeak I seek is slight (not that rubberiness you get from overcooked roshogullas) but I argue that it needs to be there. Those disks must have structural integrity. Otherwise, all you have is a pattie of compressed cheese.

                                        1. re: FoodDabbler

                                          Lol, it's not often that I chat with someone as passionate on the subject. I make rasmalai myself and I understand now what you seek. It comes down to personal preference. I am very careful with my curd to the point of obsessive, ice bath and cold rinse. And my roshogulla is ever so slighty compressed.

                                          My ideal rasmalai is pillowy, soft cheese curds with fresh milk flavor, slightest lemon tang, hint of briny sea salt in a rich, thickened cream reduction flavored with crushed green cardamom and fresh rose water. Toasted pistachios to garnish.

                                          Have you tried Southern Spice?

                                          1. re: Pookipichu

                                            The solution to New York's rasmalai problem is now clear: you must open a rasmalai store. You are guaranteed one customer.

                                            I have not yet tried Southern Spice. I am an occasional New Yorker, and my time in the city tends to be fairly hectic so I can't eat as often and as widely as I'd like. But SS is high on my list of restaurants to visit.

                                            1. re: Pookipichu

                                              @ Pookipichu, re: roshogolla for roshomalai!

                                              This is old north Kolkata speaking, and roshogolla, and sandesh are genetic issues for us. These 2 sweets cannot & do not manage successfully to migrate out of a tiny circle in north Kolkata, just as Krishnanagar has its sharpuria, Baharampur the sharbhaja & Bardhaman th mihidana-sitabhog. None in Kolkata is remotely capable of executing these other, and south Kolkata of executing no Bangali sweets whatsoever!

                                              All that is a preface to saying that the minutiae of roshogolla are an obsession for me as for many others of the older generation. We can go on endlessly about fat content, fat globule size of various milch breeds, varied fractions of kappa proteins etc. till the cows come home. Chhana is a passion as dear to the universe of the Bangali as wine is to the French or Pasta to the Italian. The Jol-chhana, or undrained/gravity-drained chhana used for roshogolla, the temperature at which it is "conched" or amalgamated, is something of great moment. That is why we use only a moderate fat content milk, 5.5-6%, curdled at 80degrees. The curdling for roshogollas is itself a wondrous art, with the boiling milk being brought down in temperature by ingenious means as the solid curd begins to take form. Those kappa proteins & high temps are great friends, and we do not want that to happen.

                                              The other thing is NO COLD TEMPERATURES after the roshogollas are made. They turn hard and chewy. People have become suborned by eating the garbage produced by a famous brand name in Kolkata, which created the chewy, squeaky product owing to horrendous technique and mass production. Roshogolla is silken, satin in the mouth. Banka Babu near the Hedua Tank on Cornwallis Street was among the last true masters. Chittaranjan of Shimle, came very distant second or even somewhere behind that. Bad milk handling, no finesse, unlike the great sandesh makers Nakur.

                                              So please, never foist on us alien standards of what the roshogolla should or should not be. It is bad nough that the Pakistani confectioners have discovered a method to make "rasmalai" with full fat milk powder made into a dough with whole eggs and cooked in thickened milk. That item is relished as much as the original or even more. So now, what is this ice bath and cold treatment of which we hear? Any cold makes roshogolla chewy and stringy. It loses its reason for being. Rose water and mitha itr again are the innovations of the Islamic sphere of influence. They are very powerful and mask the aroma of the milk ksheer and cardamom, which should be the only flavors present. Bangali sweets are very plain and works of art that do not survive translation well. Simple does not mean easy. The whole of India is full of "Bengali [not Bangali] sweets" that have no relation to the original. I am sorry to be so agitated, but I see a few assume the mantle of experts when they have much yet to learn. It is good to BECOME experts, though, as the Japanese have done with French cooking.

                                              The reason why there are so few good "Indian" restaurants in NYC is that there are few non-Indians to appreciate them. In the early 90s, the same Bangladeshis who have bought out Kalustyan's, opened next door to PONGAL a restaurant named SWAGAT. It had zero ambiance, and served $5 lunches. HOWEVER, the hilsa fish there was the most outstanding example of its kind in mustard sauce, and the whole set lunch was exceptional. Being super-authentic, not a single American was to be seen, whereas someone named MINA cooking ..... had hordes breaking down her doors. I remember Jay Jacobs, critic of GOURMET, reviewing a 6th Street establishment that went on to fame and fortune. I have never eaten such incompetently cooked food. So where is the scope for true regional specialists to thrive, when numbers of pseudo-experts are the rulers of their fate?

                                              For example, when I read discussions about "Indian" restaurants, not one of you will have the vision or courage to the Bangladeshi outpost in Brooklyn [McDonald Ave??] and visit a restaurant like SAGAR and demand to eat ONLY Bangladeshi food, i.e. fish with bones. Ask the chef to cook you darnes of RUI, carp, Labeo rohita [please be precise, make sure you tell them ROOOI, not winter carp, not any old carp. Also, the fish named PANGASH [Pangasius pangas] and PAABDAA [Ompok pabda] and EEELEESH [Tenualosa ilisha]. Shrimp too. Let them decide how to cook.

                                              Ask them to cook these fish in mustard paste and in other styles just as they would eat them. Ditto goat, Chicken or whatever, and vegetables and masoor dal. Tell them you want fresh green limes with your food, and hot jasmine PLUS Uncle Ben's rice. Make this a special order and come back several days later. Experience what is set before you. The fish will be full of bones, ask them how to eat those. But do experience real food, instead of the absurd nonsense that is served up.

                                              Chicken 65! What nonsense! That does not even exist except as a figment of someone's fantasy even in Andhra Pradesh and you expect a Bangladeshi cook to be able to conjure up an Andhraite piece of nonsense food? And do hear someone say, "biryanis comparable to the best home-cooked Hyderabadi ones"? ANYONE with any knowledge of Indian society and foodways would know that the best biryanis, ESPECIALLY IN HYDERABAD, are never home-cooked, but are the province of special biryani masters, catering cooks. So too EVERYWHERE in INDIA. We have discussed this at length elsewhere, cataloging the different styles, the different flavors and floral essences used in the regions and so forth.

                                              123 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                              1. re: GTM

                                                >>not one of you will have the vision or courage to the Bangladeshi outpost in Brooklyn [McDonald Ave??] and visit a restaurant like SAGAR and demand to eat ONLY Bangladeshi food ...

                                                Don't know about that. How does it compare to the Bangladeshi places in Parkchester in the Bronx, which several folks here have tried? ... http://www.chow.com/digest/76126/bang...

                                                And do you have more detail on Sagar in Brooklyn? On Chowhound some people have talked about a restaurant by that name on Hillside in Jamaica, but I'm searching for info on the one on McDonald and striking out.

                                        2. re: FoodDabbler

                                          I've eaten several more meals from Nirvana and, sadly, it's gone down in my estimation. It's a pity, because the restaurant has possibilities. To my taste they're mostly unrealized.

                                          The bhindi raita is an interesting concept, but the okra doesn't stay crisp long enough to make it memorable. The samosas continue to disappoint, although on occasion they've been decent. Gobi Manchurian is a dish I don't particularly like, and the Nirvana version has done nothing to change that feeling. It was just as cloying and gooey as other renditions I've had. The fish koliwada has been decent on most occasions, but dry on a few.

                                          I've had the chicken dhansak once, and it was enough for a lifetime. The dal didn't have the mix of pureed vegetables in it that a true dhansak should, the chicken pieces were clearly cooked elsewhere and added to the dish as an afterthought, and the whole thing proved to me once and for all that, yes, there is such a thing as too much cardamom. I've also had the "goat pepper dry" once -- again for the last time. I was expecting meat on the bone, not bone on the bone. There was just one piece that had any meat on it. The saag paneer was fresh, both saag and paneer, but the greens were a rather brighter green than seemed natural. (I speak as someone who cooks greens from farmers' markets whenever possible.)

                                          On the acceptable side, the dals have been fine, as has the fish moilee, and the stuffed okra. The rasmalai continues to be very good, but I'd rate the version I had once from Bhojan higher.

                                          I have to say, with some hesitation, that I don't think Nirvana compares well with the more upscale Indian restaurants in Manhattan such as Devi or Tabla. It doesn't compare well with restaurants elsewhere either (for example the very good Tamarind Bay in Cambridge). It's true that Devi and Tabla are more expensive, but I'm making a comment purely about the quality of the food here, not one about the food/price ratio. Some people say that Tabla shouldn't enter the equation because the food is "fusion". But almost all Indian food is fusion. Even a dish that to many people defines Indian food -- tandoori chicken -- is new, and partly borrowed. The tandoor was introduced to India from outside, and chicken has been cooked in it only since the 1950s or so. The dishes at Tabla are no more outsiders to Indian cuisine than gobi Manchurian.

                                          102 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

                                        1. if we are including Jackson diner and southern spice in queens, I'd like to also add Delhi Heights. There chicken makhani is phenomenal. There biryani is weak though.
                                          Besides queens I've tried loads of places at Curry hill, east village(7th street and 1st ave), brick lane and tamarind. But that chicken makhani is ridculous. I still dream about that dish.

                                          1. I'm posting here selections from a review of Yuva (230 E 58th, in the row of Indian restaurants that includes Chola) I'd posted on another forum:

                                            Let me start off by saying that Yuva was pretty good. It exudes an air of quiet refinement, and the bathrooms are clean. Regrettably, these are not trivial issues for Indian restaurants. The food was quite good, too.

                                            With some trepidation, I ordered a gulab martini to start, fearing an overdose of rose. I needn't have worried. There was no discernible rose. There was also very little discernible gin. My last martini had been a masterpiece at the Modern (the restaurant at the Museum of
                                            Modern Art), so my standards are temporarily high. This martini failed. In his defence, the bartender was preoccupied with some heavy flirting with a woman of more than a certain age, sitting alone at the bar.

                                            They served the obligatory papad and the obligatory condiments -- 9 of them, in a little 3 X 3 square. There was mild mint and mildly hot mint, tamarind, the compulsory bright-red onion concoction, a mustardy concoction, raita, mango chutney, and pickle (I can't remember the last one). I ordered "crunchy okra", lamb shank, and naan. The crunchy okra was an interesting experiment: entire okra pieces, breaded and fried, then stuck lengthwise onto long, skewer-like toothpicks, like little, elongated, fried lollipops. But the breading was too thick and it had the distressing tendency to slide off the okra entirely when I bit into it, leaving me with a tube of breading dangling from my lips and a naked okra-on-a-stick in my hand. I wouldn't abandon the experiment entirely, but re-engineer it: perhaps use a thin besan batter rather than breading (or a very light coating of panko), and use thin, long okra, rather than short, squat ones. And I'd dump the toothpicks.

                                            Meanwhile, the woman at the bar had left, after a prolonged goodbye involving mysterious hand gestures on both sides. The bartender wandered over to me and asked how my drink had been. "Good," I lied. "Was it strong enough?", he asked, on his own. "No," I said, unable to maintain the pretense. "Ah", he said, with an understanding shake of his head, "that was because I made it medium. Now I know you like it strong." He accompanied his words with a wink and a pumping back and forth motion of his fist that I've previously seen associated only with sex. Before I could find a way to refuse -- who knew what he had in mind? -- he scooped up my glass and went off to fix me another. I finished my okra, and waited for my lamb.

                                            The lamb was served magnificently, not just falling off the bone but fully fallen off it. Some bone, somewhere -- but, as God is my witness, that meat had not fallen off that bone. The meat was artfully arranged along the bone, and, naturally, I tried to reconstruct the shank. The cubes of meat did not fit the curvature of the bone. Plus, the meat was piping hot and the bone just warm. Still, it was very tasty, although slightly dry, and fragrant with just the right touch of clove and cinnamon. The naan was acceptable, but had been pulled from the tandoor a little too early. It did not have the slight char that I like.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: FoodDabbler

                                              >He accompanied his words with a wink and a pumping back and forth motion of his fist that I've previously seen associated only with sex. Before I could find a way to refuse -- who knew what he had in mind? -- he scooped up my glass and went off to fix me another.

                                              How was the do-over? Happy ending?

                                              230 East 58th St, New York, NY 10022

                                            2. We tried Amma last week and it was fantastic. It is a tiny space, so make sure you make a reservation. One thing I tried that I had never had before, was thinly sliced, almost shredded okra, crispy fried with slivers of tomatoes. It was delicious. Another thing that I love about Amma, they offer small sides so you can order your entree and some other items without breaking the bank.

                                              We tried Mint too, I liked Mint, it was more modern and the food was good, but I liked Amma better. If you like Champagne with your Indian food, Mint offers Veuve by the glass for $20. I liked that. I am attaching photos of Amma.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: waitress

                                                that looks pretty neat; how were the dhokla?

                                              2. one of my friends, originally from India, likes Surya on Bleeker Street.. He and his family are vegetarians, so I guess this would be on the strength of the veggie dishes. He singled out the Sprouted lentils and Spinach as "a dish to die for".

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: vinouspleasure

                                                  They must not know anything about Indian food. absolutely NO taste last night in any of three dishes. Halibut, Lamb, and Saag with shrimp (that's the spinach dish.)

                                                2. What is the difference between North Indian and South Indian?

                                                  1. Can't say if it's the best Indian as I have a limited frame of reference but just wanted to say thanks for the Nirvana recommendation. Was fairly close to the hotel and given our limited Indian choices in Scottsdale tasted damn good :)

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Mattoclock

                                                      I am so glad :) Hope you have a great trip with many wonderful meals.

                                                    2. Devi has great regional cuisines from areas throughout India and Tamarind in Tribcea is great, authentic and has a buzzing atmosphere. All of us Indian foodies are on the edge of our seats waiting for the opening of Tulsi. The chef 'Hemant Mathur' has certainly left his mark on marquee Indian restaurants in the city and now he is opening his own.

                                                      211 E 46th St, New York, NY 10017

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: Indian Globetrotter

                                                        Chef Hemant Mathur's own restaurant Tulsi is, indeed, open. The food is superb! His signature tandoor-grilled lamb chops are still spectacular, and the delicious Manchurian cauliflower is also on the menu. Lots of other wonderful dishes as well. Service is very pleasant -- Hemant comes out from time-to-time to make sure things are running smoothly -- and the decor is beautiful.

                                                        Tulsi photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...


                                                        1. re: RGR

                                                          Great photos, thank you for posting. The prices look on the steep side, a bit. Though that is par for the course for upscale Indian, or upscale anything nowadays.

                                                          Crain's gave Tulsi a great review last week or so. We will have to try it. The lamb chops look excellent.

                                                          211 E 46th St, New York, NY 10017

                                                          1. re: comiendosiempre

                                                            You're very welcome, comiedosiempre! And thanks for the compliment. :) Yes, Tulsi is not inexpensive but, imo, worth every penny. And, yes, Hemant's lamb chops are a must!

                                                            Enjoy and please report back.


                                                          2. re: RGR

                                                            looks good, but would you consider it the best indian food? I may take my friend out there for his birthday.

                                                            1. re: daffyduck

                                                              I'm not knowledgeable enough about Indian cuisine, nor have I eaten in that many Indian restaurants to be able to say it is "the best." All I can say is that I find Hemant's food to be seriously delicious just as I did when he was at Devi and before that at Amma. Though he was at Amma only briefly, it was the first time I tasted his food, and it was truly superb -- unlike any Indian food I'd ever had before.

                                                              To be accurate, at Amma and Devi, Hemant partnered with Suvir Saran, who remains with Devi.


                                                        2. Just got back from Chola. Awesome!!

                                                          232 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: princeofpork

                                                            Taj Tribeca on Murray St is good. I went there for week day lunch after reading the following review:


                                                            About one year back I went to Chola. Food is good but the restaurant is dirty.

                                                            232 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

                                                            Taj Tribeca
                                                            18 Murray St, New York, NY 10007

                                                          2. What is the latest update on Indian restaurants in NYC-- looking for modern
                                                            I really enjoy London's Amaya for example
                                                            My husband likes authentic..thanks!

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: carpis12

                                                              I have been liking The Masala Walla. Good, clean, fresh tasting Indian street food. Not as haute as many of the places on this thread, but not a dive. Best Samosa Chaat I have had in a while.

                                                              1. re: Hey19

                                                                Besides the samosa chaat, is there anything else (vegetarian) on the menu you'd recommend? I ask because I had a lunch special there today, and it didn't thrill me. The chana masala was alright, but the naan was kinda dry and hard, and the mixed vegetable curry was dull as dishwater. Maybe I just don't like mixed vegetable curry, because I always think it's too soggy. I'm interested in the lentil soup and the vegetarian kati rolls - care to weigh in on those?

                                                                1. re: small h

                                                                  My indian SO gave the kati rolls a thumbs up (should that be thums up?) but i think she had non-veg ones. I still havent made it to Masala Walla, but keep meaning to.

                                                                  1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                                    Thanks, good to know. I'll give the place another shot, maybe. It's definitely better than your run-of-the-mill Indian slop house.

                                                                    1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                                      I haven't had the kati rolls here, veg or non-, but I wasn't impressed with some of the other food: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8257...

                                                              2. We ate at Banjara in the East Village last night. The food was very good and the decor was actually nice. Unfortunately the portions were tiny. The maitre d had some feeble excuse, but if the portion you get is small you should complain. Beside the food being very good the prices have stayed the same since I was last there a year ago.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: nycsteve

                                                                  I haven't found their portions small at all, so I'm surprised. What did you order?

                                                                  1. re: Pan

                                                                    We had our usual two or three dishes. A chicken dumphuk (excuse my spelling) an eggplant dish and a lamb dish cooked dry. They were all very good but we only had four pieces of chicken in the first dish, six tablespoons of eggplant and three pieces of lamb. When I go to Mitali up the block the amount I have gotten was twice as large (and almost as good). The maitre'd said that the regular chef was out and the back back up chef may have not known better. We were all annoyed.