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Exotic Eats in Bergen?

dhkoenig Jan 13, 2013 05:50 PM

Looking for hip atmospheric ethnic (Asian/Indian/Ecclectic/Middle Eastern) place to dine with a bar and a cool scene - but something with an exotic flair. Any ideas?

  1. p
    PuniceaRana Jan 13, 2013 07:05 PM

    Although they are not all in Bergen, they are close, I'd recommend Topaz Thai in Belleville Huong Viet for Korean, in Nutley, If you are into Argintinian food, try La Fusta in North Bergen, If you want Cuban, a friend of mine says El Caney in Bergenfield is good. There is also Levant Grill in Englewood for good Turkish food. I have also heard good things about Brick Lane Curry House in Montclair.


    4 Replies
    1. re: PuniceaRana
      fourunder Jan 13, 2013 07:08 PM

      El Caney is nothing more than a roadside stand/shack...not a bar/restaurant.

      There's a Brick Lane Curry House in Ridgewood, but it's BYOB only.

      I agree La Fusta is a good choice for Argentinian Style meats.

      1. re: fourunder
        BuildingMyBento Jan 13, 2013 08:15 PM

        Is Brick Lane Curry House a chain? I saw one in Midtown Manhattan recently.

        1. re: BuildingMyBento
          fourunder Jan 13, 2013 08:48 PM

          I would say yes....they are British style Indian, originating out of London(?)


      2. re: PuniceaRana
        Curlz Jan 15, 2013 05:40 AM

        Huong Viet in Nutley has excellent Vietnamese food, but it's hardly a hip atmosphere and doesn't have a bar...

      3. d
        dhkoenig Jan 14, 2013 05:38 AM

        Yes Brick Lane is a chain and the one in
        Ridgewood does not have a bar - that is one thing I look for is a place with good cocktails. Funny enough, I entered the Man Vs. Food Phaal Curry Challenge at the Brick Lane Curry House in Ridgewood and I actually finished! lol

        1. l
          lemarais Jan 14, 2013 10:02 AM

          Several exotic, but not "hip" at all--- reading your description, hip, atmospheric, bar, cool scene, the wonderful restaurant Axia in Tenafly came to mind. Ticks all those boxes...

          1. f
            foodyum Jan 14, 2013 06:32 PM

            Mantra on rt 4 in Paramus has a lovely bar area. Mk Valencia is mostly Italian but also has 2 large bars and it's in ridgefield park, it's also really loud.

            1. sixelagogo Jan 16, 2013 05:10 AM

              Agree with 2 other posters for ethnic/hip + bar
              Mantra on rt 4 for indian
              Axia in Tenafly for greek
              Yakatori 39 in Teaneck (never been but the reviews look good)

              1. michele cindy Jan 20, 2013 10:37 AM

                Dhk how hot was the phaal curry, was it over the top, i.e. ghost pepper hot? Tempted to try it, also wonder if the one in NY on E. 6th is more hot, less hot then the one in NJ.

                2 Replies
                1. re: michele cindy
                  dhkoenig Jan 2, 2014 05:42 AM

                  The Phaal was completely doable for me. I went with three other people doing it tho and nobody else got past the first couple bites. I have a crazy palette tho - I can eat crazy spicy stuff without much fanfare. The people I went with couldn't even get halfway through so I guess it is pretty hot. Have to say tho - my favorite Indian (including NYC with possible exception of Dhaba in NYC) is Mantra in Paramus. Very nice flavor plus they have added music into their lounge and it is actually pretty vibey now!

                  1. re: michele cindy
                    dhkoenig Jan 2, 2014 05:45 AM

                    Also PS if you go to Mantra you MUST get the sesame paneer for an appetizer. It is a very firm paneer, and it is in wedges that are fork-firm, slathered with a mildly spicy, very sweet barbeque type sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. My husband and I order it every time and it never gets old. My kids even love it.

                  2. Curlz Jan 1, 2014 02:13 PM

                    I had a fantastic lunch today at Karavalli, which is an Indian restaurant in Nanuet -JUST over the border from Bergen County. They offer dishes from multiple regions, which was a wonderful surprise--most esp when the dosas hit the table along with the requisite naan!

                    Everything I ate (we all had the lunch buffet) was delicious, but my favorites were the pongal (a southern Indian grits-like dish over which I was instructed to put sambal) and the goat curry, which was simply outstanding. A deep flavorful sauce with large chunks of meat--I was wiping the bowl of sauce clean with naan after both servings.

                    They have a couple of other locations further north in NY, but it's an insanely easy drive from northern NJ off the top of the Parkway. If you appreciate this kind of cuisine, GO!


                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Curlz
                      ELA Jan 1, 2014 03:46 PM

                      Agreed...I think Karavalli is one of the -- if not the top Indian restaurants in the area.

                      Karavalli is very well known, even outside the area. They have a very good following, and I know many people who travel to go there. I've been to the one in Nanuet and Saratoga Springs (which also has a very big/strong following).

                      The food is very good -- very good variety, offerings, etc. Lots of flavor and taste. Even if you don't like Indian food -- you can find several things here that you might like, and while some might be "hard core" there are also some that people might like, with an Indian-flair, style, etc.

                      1. re: ELA
                        Curlz Jan 1, 2014 05:16 PM

                        Have to agree about the variety; I was with one serious eater like myself, a vegetarian, and two tentatively-trying-Indian-food-for-the-2nd-times. The serious eater and I were going to town on the goat but we couldn't even get one of the newbies to dip a piece of naan in the sauce! The other tasted it without knowing what kind of meat it was and said "not bad" but once we told him it was goat, he was out. More for us...! :-)

                        I'm surprised the place has been around so long and I've never heard/read anything about it! It's SO freaking easy to get to from most of northeastern NJ.

                        1. re: Curlz
                          ELA Jan 2, 2014 05:21 AM

                          I agree with you again...in whatever circles, Karavalli is well known, but they are pretty vast circles. Almost seems like they are a very well known, best kept secret. I think part of it is that their 3 places are not centrally located, not all in this area, etc.

                          Upstate, where they have a place in Saratoga Springs and Latham, they are very well known -- and many of the vacation residents of SS are from downstate, and thus, they know the location in Nanuet. It's a draw. I know people from Westchester, NYC, Long Island, etc. who know about and go to the place.

                          1. re: ELA
                            dhkoenig Jan 2, 2014 05:47 AM

                            Also - do they have a bar? Loves me a cocktail! LOL

                            1. re: dhkoenig
                              Curlz Jan 2, 2014 09:14 AM


                      2. re: Curlz
                        dhkoenig Jan 2, 2014 05:43 AM

                        Thanks I will definitely check it out. My husband and I are Indian junkies. thanks!

                      3. e
                        ELA Jan 1, 2014 04:00 PM

                        Nothing I know of fits all of what you are looking for. Flirt is Japanese/somewhat, a bit of an Asian flair to some things, but they are BYO. Certainly "hip" and "sexy" -- a unique ambiance, atmosphere, etc.

                        More of a "Greek" orientation -- but there is somewhat of a "Middle East" flair to a few things, but I don't think it will fit what you are looking for -- Varka. Strong on the "cool scene" and drinks, LOL. Check out their website, menu, etc.

                        I've heard some people say Chakra is "eclectic" but it is not near the Indian, Middle Eastern slant. There is a bit of a Asian flair to some dishes and they do offer sushi. Cool place, nice ambiance, and some say "hip" so to speak.

                        Any other "cool" or "hip" places -- I am just not aware of any that fit into those categories.

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