I was recently invited into Imli to try out some of the restaurant’s popular menu items and write a review. My wife and I came here early in the dinner service on a Wednesday, and there was already a good amount of people not only sitting for a meal, but also hanging out at the joint’s beautiful bar and in their outdoor enclosed garden space.
We started off with a pair of interesting cocktails: The Kachumber Cooler (Hendricks Gin, St. Germain, lychee juice, cucumber), and the Desi Daaru (Old Monk, Thumbs Up, coriander, chaat, tabasco). Both were really great and unique.
Bhal is brought out to each table before the meal. This is a savory street style snack made from puffed rice, shreds of fried chic pea, onions, spices, tamarind sauce and chutney. This stuff was absolutely addicting!
This becoming known for its cross-over cuisine and tapas style bites, so we tried a bunch of those first. First were the grilled tandoori chicken wings.
These babies rocked! They’re marinated in Indian spices and then cooked until super tender. They had a great char on them from the grill, and the sauces pack both heat and cooling elements.
Next up was the spiced lamb scotch egg.
The egg was perfectly cooked, and the minced lamb around the outside was reminiscent of the grilled skewers of minced lamb that you commonly see at Indian restaurants (seekh kabob). I really liked this dish.
Our next bite was less of a cross-over food item: cauliflower tikki.
This is a variation on the popular aloo tikki. Rather than potatoes and onions, it’s made with cauliflower.
After being amply fed for the snack portion of the meal, we decided to split a chicken tikka pizza for our main course.
This is not only a great idea, but a really tasty one as well. Recently my wife and I ate some naan at an Indian joint near our apartment, and I was commenting how I think naan in general is a perfect vehicle for something like pizza. I was really excited to see it on the menu here.
Speaking of naan, this joint offers a huge variety of naan options, all of which look delicious.
But anyway, the pizza was topped with chicken tikka masala, diced tomato, sliced of bell pepper and minced red onion. Really tasty. Perhaps just a drizzle of a cooling yogurt sauce across the top as a finishing touch would really put this dish over the top.
Last but not least, we tried some Indian cardamom and ginger tea, along with Indian style ice cream (kulfi).
This was flavored with fennel seed, condensed milk and paan/betel nut leaves, and was a really refreshing way to end the meal.
I’m looking forward to coming back here again. Namely, I want to try the coconut and green chili clams, and some of the beef and lamb dishes. They do a really great job here, and I see a bright future for this joint. It’s only been open for two months and it’s already generating a big buzz in the neighborhood.
IMLI URBAN INDIAN FOOD
1136 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10065