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Southern Spice amazing indian food? worth the trip?

I feel like I can't get a good read on this place. The comments on Chow have two people saying they loved it and one saying "eh, not worth the trip." The write up in the Village Voice says its the 2009 top Indian restaurant but I am not sure I trust them. (Had a bad experience with what they claimed was the top Banh Mi place). Any more feedback before I go an hour out of my way?

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  1. there is a huge thread on this - search and see what many people say there. ive been twice, once (yesterday) for the buffet, another time takeout off the menu, witnessing other people's food. Its a simple place with very good, tasty Indian food - distinct from most other places especially since it offers South Indian meat and fish specialties in addition to vegetables. the buffet is fine but the next time I go I would order a la carte since the sizzling dishes coming out of the kitchen look and smell great. the goat biryani in my takeout order was particularly good , and they make very good naan. We particularly liked a delicate mild paneer-mushroom-pea curry yesterday. Good spicing in the chettinad chicken and fish curry too - even the tandoori chicken which I usually avoid was very nice - I must have been imagining it had a taste of wood char?

    Not world changing and not necessarily the best in the city, but really very good and worth a trip.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jen kalb

      I went out there when they had the buffet and while good was not really worth the trip out there. The food came out quickly as the place was packed but I really was not wowed by anything. Is it worth a return trip not during buffet times?

      1. re: MVNYC

        Lke I said I think a la carte is the way to go tho the buffet is fine. It was notable that several of the tables in there yesterday were ordering a la carte during the buffet hours - thats pretty rare to see in indian restaurants, except dosa places. Remember, its less that it is the BEST indian food in NY than that it is a very good rendition of nonstandard dishes. Certainly that goat biryani is as good as any Ive had in the city or in Delhi a cpl years ago- But look, I am sort of crazy about Indian food and have a car. If I had to take public transport I might not be as happy with the time investments here.

    2. I really enjoyed my one visit to southern spice, but like Jen Kalb, I love indian food and have a car.

      As she says, the reason to go is to try things that aren't on most other indian restaurant menus. If what you want is mind-blowing renditions of the regular standards, this might not be a destination place (tho i think they do those very well), but if you're looking for some new and different dishes, then I think southern spice is worth checking out.

      1. Just go. Honestly, the big thread has mostly raves, this small one has the most tepid comments I have seen. I would like to ask the others in this thread where there is better Indian in NYC. Certainly none in Manhattan. Sad but true. Hard to find many more critical than I am. Was surprised it was really good. That was buffet but the place was not packed. Maybe now they have gotten more pub and more patrons. Surely not the most convenient location if you are taking mass transit. If you really want Indian I would go there. Cheap, I doubt you would find it worse than good and as others have said, better selection of dishes than the usual. Note, Village Voice is terrible. Sietsma pretty much has no clue. Every review is quite glowing. Oh, it is off the beaten path and cheap and I went where other critics don't so it is great. I used to like to hear of these places but so many are just not that good and certainly not worth a journey. This one is worth at least a try.
        Again, where is better?

        1. Without a doubt, it is the best Indian restaurant I know of in NYC. Absolutely worth double the trip. The chola is cooked in a unique dark piquant sauce. The onion kulcha is made with abundant spices sprinkled in, and chiles (if ordered). The lamb sukka is a dry cooked spice encrusted dish totally unlike any I have had around here. And the dum biryani, forgetaboutit.

          Just go. Don't listen to the naysayers. Trust me.

          1 Reply
          1. re: NYJewboy

            And please don't judge them solely by the buffet. I had the chance to try it last week and while you get a nice assortment of the tasty dishes they have to offer, it's not as good as ordering ala carte. Still, that buffet just might be the best $8.50 meal in NY. As cheap as Mickey D's and, um, about 10,000 times better.

          2. I stumbled across the long, effusive thread when I was trying to answer the question "Is there Keralan food in NYC?" I think of Southern Spice as one of those places like Sri or Spicy Mina or Burmese Cafe that is one of those grassroots Chowhound sensations that make this community so fun. I've been back a couple of times since my first visit. If you like spicy Indian food in a city where great Indian food is hard to come by, this place is wonderful. That said, it is a MAJOR schlep especially if you are, like me, confined to public transportation and live in Brooklyn. But I think it's worth it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Mandymac

              "I was trying to answer the question "Is there Keralan food in NYC?" "

              Unfortunately, while Southern Spice might be one of the best Indian restaurants in NYC, they do not serve Keralan food. The only Keralan restaurant that I know of is Kerala Kitchen on Hillside Ave near the Nassau border. It used to be great but they've gone through so many changes over the last year or two, I hesitate to recommend it.

            2. Southern Spice is fantastic and well worth a trip, especially if you live in Brooklyn. There is simply no good Indian food in Brooklyn. As for Manhattan, there is no Indian restaurant that is spiced as authentically, or for Western palates, "aggressively". If you can handle herbs, seasoning and heat, it really shines.

              The restaurant gets very cold in winter and there is no ambiance to speak of. The buffet is nothing to write home about. The a la carte menu is wonderful. The chicken 65, biryani, lamb sukka, kerala crabcakes, palak paneer. Even their sizzling tandoori platter is better than most others.

              Only the desserts disappoint me. The rasmalai is poorly executed, tough, and the flavor is less than ideal.

              1. This would be a trek on public transportation, but the food is worth it. My husband and I have been slowly working our way through the menu. While we each have our preferences - he loves the chicken 65 like many others on this thread, it's a little too spicy for me - one thing is for certain, we have never NOT liked any dish. My biggest problem is that with each new, tasty thing we discover it just gets harder to narrow down our order the next time. We always end up ordering far more than we can eat in a single sitting and end up having enough for another couple of meals - can't really complain about that. Last night we tried the fried peppers (milagi bajii) and the lamb sukka in addition to a few other dishes we've had before. Delicious. Not being as familiar with southern Indian, the food is a nice departure from other places I've tried over the years. What's more, the people who work at Southern Spice are extremely nice, the food is fresh and obviously prepared with care and skill, and the place is very clean (you can see the chefs at work in the kitchen).

                So, just go... What's the worst that could happen?

                1. A friend and I took the 7 out there for Diwali and don't have any regrets. The fried pepper appetizer was surprisingly flavorless, but the chicken 65 more than made up for it. I had to put a cap on to keep sweat from rolling in my eyes. The biryani was also really memorable. We really enjoyed it.

                  A few low points of the meal, none of which had to do with food. We were dumb and respected the stated (seamingly not meant) no alcohol policy, and perhaps were the only ones in the place who did so. Live and learn. As for the crowd, there was a big table of boozing hipster-types and a severely obese woman who audibly farted while waiting for the bathroom. Not sure which was more off-putting.