5 Star Restaurant aka Four Star Indian cuisine fka 5 Star Tattukada aka Keralan in a candy store
Sorry for the name confusion but they still distribute takeout menus with the old name and address They are now located at 247 Jericho Tpke New Hyde Park
This Sunday I finally got a chance to try the buffet. With the understanding that I have only had Keralan twice and know nothing of the cuisine......
Saturday and Sunday 11-3 $9.95 beverages and Poori/Porotha/Chapathi/Naan are extra.
Palappam- made to order in a teflon skillet on a sterno, they were pretty bland. I'm sure something else on the buffet goes with it but the guy cooking them spoke no english.
Aviyal-- some vegetables in a milky white liguid suspension. I could not taste the vegetables and this was very bland as well
Thoran cabbage- much better. A good spice mix with nice crunch and some black seeds scattered about the dish.
Thoran Shrimp-- despite the similar name was a completely different Thoran. Little shrimp somehow not overcooked dotted the yellow mixture that I was told was coconut. Not at all sweet with a little heat. Excellent
5 Star Spicy Potatoes-- my name for the dish. Small cubes of crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside potatoes in a spicy pepper mix. I asked one of the young waiters the name of the dish and he said it is just something the guys in the kitchen like to eat. Excellent
Beef Curry-- small cubes of meat, no bone, grizzle or fat in a mild dark brown sauce. I had to add some red pepper condiment to heat it up. With the addition of the aforementioned potatoes it was excellent.
King Fish Curry and Kappa- offered from different pans the waiter suggested I eat it together, he was correct. I easily found large chunks of bone free fish in the red, oily curry. I ladled it over the kappa that I was told was yucca. Although I don't love fin fish this was pretty good.
Chicken Tikka Masala-- as the waiter pointed it out he laughed with me and said " I know its not what we do, but everyone loves it' Indeed, every person at the table of six next to me had it on their plate. It was very good.
Desserts-- They has gulab jamun that I passed on as I don't like that dish. I opted for a small cakey wite disc in a milky broth, name unknown. Once again, not my kind of dessert
All in all interesting, some good things and a nice change of pace. It is likely that the ala carte menue may yield better results but this was a nice way to sample the cuisine. Place was busy with other patrons and a brisk take out business. Will I return? Yes and with the chicken tikka and naan I can bring the kids.
head the pleasure of eating here earlier today with a group of 14; we took over a side room and . . . very tasty interesting things. the buffet items were very similar to what stuartlafonda had, with the exception of the thoran shrimp (I think we had a chicken and potato dish) and the 5 star spicy potatoes (we had a mixed vegetable dish that featured, possibly, julienned baby cucumbers). instead of kingfish for that curry, we had mackerel which was definitely bone-ier. we also had a very nice and chunky sambar that was very good; chock full of vegetables, with a slight bitter edge that . . . grew on me. we were also given plates of fried anchovy which were excellent; super-snack!
thoughts overall? a very different and unique buffet experience, with some very nice flavors. food was prepared fresh and clean and vibrant; there was a slowburn to all the flavor that built up maybe 20 minutes into the meal like, wow! this food is spicy and tasty! the beef curry was dry in its gravy style and very good; big slices of ginger and red onion; a fine flavor. the kappa was amazing; wow! so hearty and filling, great texture; I've never had yucca so tasty before. the palappam were impossibly fresh and so nice; a real treat. nann seemed like it was heated up from a package but I'm not sure. chicken tikka was the typical; good tho. the condiments were very good, a lime pickle, a bittermelon (or kerala) pickle that was very good and also a dhal-like sauce with plenty of aromatics that was very good with the naan and the palappam.
dessert was galub jamon (served room temp) which I suspect was from a can (dents in each ball) and also a pretty good sev kheer; not as thick as I usually like but the flavors were there.
overall? the place is a hike to get to (we biked there as a group from brooklyn which is even crazier) but . . . I think worth it. very different from any of the jackson heights/curry hill offerings and we were lucky enough to be guided there by a fella from the region of Kerala as well, so we got plenty of history and context as well. as we are all learning, south indian food is not limited to dosa and idli as all the saravanaas in the world would have you believe and with this place, plus southern spice, and some other indian place I read about with a couple of pork dishes on the menu (but not this place; their menu has a nice emphasis on seafood items, and also some duck items!) there is much to be learned, and eaten, from the tip of the subcontinent.
For fans of South Indian non-veg, another great place to try, with an excellent weekend buffet, is Hoysala, in Somerset, NJ. They serve specialties of Karnataka, and I think it's in the same league as 5-Star. I found Southern Spice decidedly inferior to these two, and also inferior to the short-lived Curry Hill Chettinad restaurant (in its pre-Asaivam incarnation).
I came here on an early Sunday evening for full-service dinner, probably not the best time as the staff was just clearing the place up after the regular Sunday buffet plus a private Easter party. We were the only table of diners in the whole joint. The staff, while somewhat sluggish, was nonetheless very warm, friendly and accomodating.
Excellent meal. Not a bad dish on the table, but I'll say that the only item I wouldn't re-order are the pakoras, which struck me as okay but average. That said, everything else on the table was a heavy hitter. The baby goat biryani had nice, generous chunks of tender goat meat and was well above-average for its' type. I also liked the thoran, a yellow cabbage based dish flecked with black seeds that has a natural, unforced sweetness. Very nice. We enjoyed the spicy, fried shrimp app so much that we got another order of it. The paratha bread was soft, wonderfully chewy and a favorite at the table. Again, we ordered more. We ordered a dish of Chicken Tikka as insurance for the kid; this, too, was a consensus favorite. I've had this dish so often either microwaved or off a steam table, that it is something of a revelation as to just how good this dish can be. Cooked to order, it was especially moist, and not overly spiced (as I've found some renditions to be). As good as these other dishes were, the Mango Kingfish Curry was the shining star. The kingfish is meaty, moist and mostly free of bones. The "gravy", as it was called by the staff, was parts tangy, sweet and wonderfully spicy. Just a wonderful mix of flavors. Superb.
A $4.95 "lunch box" is offered during the week. I believe it includes the fish curry. The buffet is offered only on weekends. The staff advised us to get there before 1:30 on a Sunday to avoid the post-Church rush.
I'm already plotting multiple returns.
This place is fantastic. As has been noted elsewhere, Keralan and Chettinad are different cuisines, but I think related enough to make a comparison, and I think 5-star overall is much better than the much vaunted Southern Spice. I've been twice, once for a midweek dinner and once for the buffet.
At dinner the real highlights were the shrimp fry and the baby goat biryani as well as the cabbage thoran. Also not to miss are the parothas, which are much closer to a roti canai than a North Indian paratha.
The sunday buffet is bounteous, and they tell me they rotate the items, except for a few.
The palappam, same as appam in Sri Lankan or Tamil places (hoppers) is not meant to be eaten plain, but is a vessel for a curry (chicken when we went).
I agree the avial there is nothing special, but it's a staple veg. dish in Kerala. It's made with yogurt and coconut. They also had cabbage thoran, dry lentil thoran and kappa (I didn't know to eat it with the fish curry, though).
They had a really nice beef ularthiyatu, small beef chunks with spices and coconut, tikka masala ("the kids love it"), a spicy, pungent fish curry and a mango fish curry, one with kingfish and I forget what the other was made with. There were a few other items I'm forgetting.
Their gulab jamun is actually very good, and served warm, though I'd have expected a more southern dessert like payasam.
Anyway, having traveled in Kerala twice, this is the restaurant I've been waiting years for. J Fores really must try it on his next visit back to NY, since I think he discovered the excellent Thattukada in London for the London Chowhound community.
It's easily accessible by LIRR--10-15 minute walk from the New Hyde Park Station. It's a 37 minute ride from Penn and about 5 minutes longer from Atlantic Terminal with a change in Jamaica.