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Anjappar

This restaurant serves Chettinadu cuisine, that is, food associated with the Chettiar caste from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It's part of a multinational chain, which includes locations in California and New Jersey. Opened yesterday. The menu...

www.anjapparusa.com/pdf/anjappar-newy...

...doesn't give prices, but they're on the high side for the neighborhood. Appetizers begin at $5-something for three pakoras, then climb. I'll probably hold off on a meal here till one particular friend, who's traveled widely in India, returns from his current excursion.

Dave Cook
www.EatingInTranslation.com

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Anjappar
116 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

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  1. Sounds interesting, I assume it is in Curry Hill area. I had good food on Lex at an Indian- Chinese restaurant, i don't recall the name , but it is the only place of that type I know of. I will try Anjappar. Thanks for the info.

    5 Replies
    1. re: foodwhisperer

      Anjappar is better than China Mirch ever was.

      1. re: knucklesandwich

        I thought Chinese Mirch was pretty terrible, though. Is Anjappar very good?

        1. re: Pan

          I've only been there twice. The Chettinad dishes are new to me. The spices taste fresh, and are used aggressively. Some of the food is hot at the damp collar level. As I posted before, this place is unique for NYC.

          There's a link to Anjappar on this page, and they were reviewed in the Times weeks ago.

          1. re: knucklesandwich

            The food at Dosa Garden, in the Little Sri Lanka section of Victory Blvd., on Staten Island, is prepared by "specially trained chefs from Chettinad, India." Based only on an admittedly small sample of the menu, the seasoning is more pronounced and more complex than at Anjappar. Worth a ferry ride.

            Dave Cook
            www.EatingInTranslation.com

            1. re: DaveCook

              Er...unique for Manhattan, I meant. Thank you, Dave. Dosa Garden sounds noteworthy.

    2. Yes, it's in Curry Hill, I believe it took the space of a classic French restaurant whose name escapes me now (I think RGR was a fan though). Was curious about it while it was coming in.

      Looks like they offer a separate North Indian section of the menu, as well as Indo-Chinese.

      2 Replies
      1. re: janethepain

        I think you mean La Petite Auberge?

        1. re: fm1963

          Yes, La Petite Auberge. I do miss it. We passed by Anjappar recently and peeked in the window. Very different interior decor, of course. I have been thinking of trying it though I'm sure it will feel a little weird.

          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

      2. Try it. Get the stuff they recommended in the Times, from the Chettinad part of the menu. Poondu Kulambu, Mutton Sukka Varuval, parata, rice and Kingfishers for 2 are about $55 pre tip. Unique for NYC.

        3 Replies
        1. re: knucklesandwich

          Do they do chicken Chettinad? My father and I loved to make Madhur Jaffrey's recipe, except that we quadrupled the amount of urad dal in it.

          1. re: Pan

            Pan, they do have chicken Chettinad. I had the pepper chicken, which was extremely spicy. They did ask me if i want it spicy. They don't hold back on the the spiciness if you want it "hot". I also had the mutton sukka masala. Both dishes were very good. I had aloo parata (sp) they called it dosai but it was same as the usual. The waitress said they eat aloo parata in both North and South.
            The steamed rice was very good. I had a hard time distinguishing southern from northern Indian cuisine. The dishes I had were Southern but the only noticeable difference to me, was more spices and more heat. i did see some interesting breads and sauces go by, so there are more dishes I wish to try , next time I go. The service was excellent

            1. re: foodwhisperer

              Thanks for that report. I have to try this place!

        2. I was part of a party of 4 adults and 1 child at Anjappar for an early dinner, before 6. It was really good and inexpensive ($22/person including tax and tip, based on a division of the bill into 4), and the staff even corrected my erroneous calculations on the bill, which had been in their favor.

          My first indication that this meal might be especially good was when I ordered salty lassi and received a delicious masala lassi that had a lot of cumin seeds and a good dose of what tasted like green chili puree in it. My brother felt that the lassi tasted like pappadams. When I told the waitress it was delicious, she said it was made with buttermilk.

          We got their dry-roasted chicken, and it was indeed the Chettinad Chicken I knew from the Madhur Jaffrey recipe, except that her addition of urad dal may have been unusual, and this dish didn't include any dal. It was about a 6.5 on my 0-10 personal spiciness index. (I like spiciness up to 7, 8 causes me to sweat significantly from my head but is still OK, 9 is really challenging, and 10 is impossible.) It was really good. My young cousin, sensitive to chili, got chicken tikka masala, which of course is not a Chettinad specialty. I tried a little of the sauce, and it was just OK, but then I order that dish so infrequently that I might have last had it in its original country of England, and comparing the quality of this place's chicken tikka masala with that of a terrific London curry house might be unfair. We also got drumstick curry, a special. One member of the party considered sending it back because of the fibrous nature of the vegetable (this drumstick is a green vegetable, not a chicken leg), and I'm glad he didn't. Drumsticks are that way, in my experience: The core of the stem is tasty, but the outside must be left on the plate. Next time I go with him, we'll get a different vegetable. Also ordered were biriyani (I tried a little and thought it was just fairly good), plain rice for my spice-sensitive cousin, and one order of gulab jamun with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The gulab jamun was solidly good, with a nice texture, and came hot. Good sides of dal and raita were also brought with the meal.

          My general feeling was that the food was all good to excellent, with clear flavors of high-quality spices and a care for cooking methods and results. For example, I loved the caramelized fried onion slices in the dry roasted chicken. I think this is probably one of the best values in Indian food in Manhattan today, and I can only hope that it remains in business for a long time to come, but doesn't become so popular that I can't get in. I look forward to working my way through the rest of the menu.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Pan

            Great report. thanks

          2. Thanks so much for posting. I plan to give this a try sometime and it'll be a kick trying egg-based Indian dishes although I'll have to ascertain whether or not they also contain meat. And you're right, the prices ARE high for the area but they're not outrageous.

            9 Replies
            1. re: MacGuffin

              I find the place pretty inexpensive, really.

              1. re: Pan

                For NYC in general, yes, and certainly cheaper than Indian in other parts of town. But I agree with DaveCook that it's higher than the norm for Curry Hill.

                1. re: MacGuffin

                  I suppose it's more expensive than cheap, lousy places like Curry in a Hurry, but especially considering its generous portions, it works out to be cheaper than a place like Bhatti.

                  1. re: Pan

                    Hey, I'm not looking for a confrontation. I just made an observation, including that the prices aren't outrageous, that I'm looking forward to trying a cuisine with which I'm not familiar. And as to Curry in a Hurry's being "awful," they've been around a VERY long time, especially for a NYC restaurant (a species with a very high mortality rate); I've been here almost 40 years with connections to Midtown the entire time and don't remember their not being there. They're clearly doing something right.

                    1. re: MacGuffin

                      I'm merely demurring somewhat, not being confrontational, although since you address Curry in a Hurry, I feel impelled to mention that the fact of a cheap place being still open doesn't really suggest anything about its quality, as witness the various terrible chain restaurants that do so well. And I'll say that after the one time I ate at Curry in a Hurry, my stomach found the food so oily that I felt like I had drunk a glass of kerosene.

                      1. re: Pan

                        My response was to your initial mention of CIAH and didn't mention quality, merely that they're doing something right. And they are, especially considering the high rents and elimination of longterm commercial leases in Manhattan. I've seen MANY (and I'd bold that if I could) restaurants, of all kinds and price ranges, come and go here over the years but CIAH remains a constant. I give credit where it's due--survival here is extremely difficult.

                        1. re: MacGuffin

                          Granted.

                          1. re: MacGuffin

                            They may be doing something right from a business perspective but it's a mystery to me. Kerosene belly sounds about right. Blech.

                            1. re: rose water

                              What can I say? Life is fraught with mysteries. Perhaps there's a CIAH board here that can shed some light on this one.

              2. this was a huge disappointment...

                i got takeout: the staff were quite rude, with the exception of the lone Scottish waitress who seems to be suffering under the yoke of nasty management: for example, once i placed my order and said i'd go for a 15 minute walk and return, several of the staff nearby jumped angrily as if i'd suggested i was robbing the place! -- one guy said "You pay first!!!"...

                (note: i was both polite and dressed extremely well: my shoes and blazer alone could pay for six months of daily meals there)...

                So while calmly paying in advance as ordered, i asked the nice-ish Scottish waitress what the deal was: she told me that the management worries about people ordering and not coming to get their food...and she cautioned me: "If you'd left and not come back, they'd've had me pay for all your order!!!"...huh?...

                At home i dug into the food...on the plus side, it was very nicely spiced...and i liked the Chettinad eggplant starter...i did not like the chapatis, which they'd told me were whole-wheat but were 90% doughy white flour...

                But the signature dry goat curry was the real problem: while nicely spiced, the meat quality was the poorest i've ever been served in recent memory: unchewably tough, stale-tasting, disgusting...i threw most of it away...(and yes, i usually love goat and mutton and have no aversion whatsoever to gamey meats)...

                It's too bad: someone in the kitchen clearly knows how to cook spicy South Indian food...but the management seems to be providing the kitchen w/ stale meat and the customers/wait-staff w/ bad attitude...

                i will never return...

                4 Replies
                1. re: Simon

                  Wow! I'm really unpleasantly surprised to read all this. I've been to Anjappar 3 times so far (twice for lunch, once for dinner) and have had only really good food, and service was about what I would have expected (perfectly OK). I'm really concerned about the quality of the goat meat in your order.

                  1. re: Pan

                    the Scottish waitress was perfectly fine -- but the other staff definitely give off a weird unpleasant vibe...i'd actually stopped in there once before, about a month ago: it was 5:20 and one of the same Indian guys gave me an angry look...off his look i asked if they were open yet and he told me they open at 5:30...so i said i wanted to place a take-out order...i was shocked when he curtly responded by saying that i could only place my order at 6pm...i said: "i thought you said you open at 5:30?"...he: "Yes! But the kitchen needs time!"...i shrugged and left...

                    But true, all that would be beside the point if the goat had been edible...

                    Sidenote: as i was leaving w/ my takeout food, i asked about delivery for possible future meals (figuring that if the food was good, i'd be able to avoid the unpleasant staff and still enjoy the curries)...the waitress told me that they "deliver within 2 [?!] blocks and anything beyond that they will make you pay for roundtrip subway or taxi fare!" ?!?

                    Clearly there is a cheap b@*$#&d in the management, someone who threatens staff w/ penalties for unclaimed takeout, charges taxi fare for 3 block walks, and buys rotten goat for the cooks...

                  2. re: Simon

                    I am quite surprised by your report since a group of us had lunch there on Sunday -- all afficianados of Indian food -- and it was a fabulous meal.

                    Since we all had the thali lunch, it did offer a variety of dishes, and each was excellent. In particular, 2 of us had the goat curry, and it was really superb: tender meat, quite flavorful. We both were delighted. The others ordered chicken, and were more than pleased with the preparation.

                    I have to wonder about the difference in our experiences. Can't begin to speculate. But if I had received an inedible dish such as you described your goat, then i would have sent it back and asked for a replacement.

                    FWIW: I might note that we were the only non-south Asians, and the resto was completely full.

                    1. re: escargot3

                      i would definitely have sent the goat back -- but it was takeout and i was already home when i tried it (and then threw it in the trash)...