Tag Archives: indian

Imli Urban Indian

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

Badshah Modern Indian

Badshah is a new modern Indian joint on 9th and 52nd that’s headed up by the former executive chef from Babu Ji, Charles Mani.

The restaurant is small, yet spacious and uncramped, unlike many joints in the area. The dining room is bright and airy, with whitewashed exposed brick and a great bar with excellent cocktails, mixed up by the joint’s talented and friendly bartender, Warren.

We tried the Mumbai Old Fashioned (whiskey with licorice and cardamom); the Indian Rose (mandarin orange vodka, peach, cranberry and rose petals); and the Sassy Lassi (mango lassi with coconut rum): All delicious.

Chef Charles is doing some great things here! My wife and I came in for a press meal, so we were able to sample a lot of items from the menu. Here’s a rundown of the meal:

The meal opened with these bite-sized, crispy street snacks that were filled with chutney. A great way to wake up the taste buds.

Our first app was the cauliflower. Chef Charles is known for this dish, which received a lot of food media attention when it was on the menu at Babu Ji. It’s satiating, filling and really delicious. It almost reminds me of something like the flavors you get from a really satisfying order of General Tso’s chicken, only with a more enjoyable sauce, a lighter feel and much less greasy.

Next was the potato and pea samosas with fenugreek sauce. Man. That sauce is something else! So deeply rich with flavors, and really velvety in texture. Winning app dish for me!

The third app was the southern style mussels. At this point in the meal I knew this chef was a master, because every sauce he brought out to us was incredible. I feel like that’s the ultimate sign of a great chef. Anyone can learn to cook a protein properly. But sauce work is like an art.

We drank this stuff up, while intermittently dunking the garlic naan into the remainder.

And let me tell you something about the naan: It’s the best I’ve ever had. It was light, airy and crispy, yet pillow-soft. I was blown away by this stuff. Just perfect in every way. We tried both the regular and the garlic, and both were awesome.

Our first entree was the salmon with coconut curry. The salmon was cooked perfectly. It had a char and crisp on the outside, but nice and pink/orange through the center. The plating was beautiful, because the fish wasn’t buried in the curry, but, rather, sitting nicely on top. The curry (which is like a sauce) was yet again top notch quality. It was silky smooth, creamy, and mild yet dense with flavor.

Our second entree was the cardamom and clove masala lamb chops. These babies were so tender and flavorful. The spices didn’t overpower the protein, which often happens with aggressive Indian oven-cooked or grilled proteins. They had just the right amount of spice to compliment and highlight the flavor of the lamb.

Finally, we enjoyed some homemade cardamom and pistachio ice cream. I loved the flavors here, and there were some nice pieces of pistachio mixed in.

I’m really happy this place is in my neighborhood. I’ll be going back to try the butter chicken, chicken tikka and onion seed naan for sure, among other menu items. Badshah means “Great King.” Well, this place has some Great fuc-King food! Go give it a shot.

UPDATE AUGUST 2017

I came back in with a group of friends to celebrate a birthday. We all tried the tasting menu, and it was excellent.

Check out the beautiful plating.

The Tandoori chicken was amazingly flavorful and tender.

And Chef Charles brought out a new item from his upcoming seasonal menu.

BADSHAH
788 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Indian Accent

I finally had the opportunity to eat at Indian Accent when a gang of us food maniacs came in for a quadruple date.

This place has been on my radar for a while, and I had heard it was one of the city’s best Indian restaurants.

We all opted to all get the four course meal rather than do the full chef’s tasting menu. But, first off, the cocktails here are fantastic. There’s spice, interesting flavor combinations, and a lot of really inventive riffs on old classics.

The meal starts with some amuse type offerings.

Above is a garam masala spiced pumpkin soup along with some blue cheese bread puffs (and a pair of our drinks). Below is the revealing of a nice fried beet root bite.

My first course: a collection of crab claws cooked in butter-pepper-garlic sauce with cauliflower. These were so rich and flavorful. Very bold, assertive flavors that I really loved.

My wife’s first course: the mathri trio, consisting of smoked eggplant bharta, duck khurchan and chicken khurchan. The duck one was definitely our favorite of the three, with chicken close behind.

My second course: sweet pickle ribs with sun-dried mango and onion seeds. Amazing flavor on these babies, and super tender. I’ve had Indian flavored “BBQ” before but this was much better. It had sweetness, spice, acidity… just really nicely balanced.

My wife’s second course: pathar beef kebab with bone marrow nihari. This was really interesting and had a pouring element to the dish presentation. I think, however, the ribs were way better.

My third course: ghee roast lamb with roomali roti pancakes. This was essentially like the Indian version of peking duck, in which the diner assembles his “tacos” and eats.

Here’s the set up:

That’s the roasted lamb meat on the left, cucumbers and sauces in the center, and pancakes on the right. In the upper center is an accompaniment that I chose for this course, which was essentially a stuffed naan type bread called kulcha. Mine was stuffed with pastrami and mustard grain (there were many other choices).

Here’s a closer look at the succulent roasted lamb meat:

And one of the little fuckers all assembled and ready to eat:

This shit was amazing, and I definitely feel like I picked the winning dish of the night (although a few others also ordered this).

My wife’s third course: braised lamb in a prune korma sauce with rajasthani pearl millet khichdi.

Not sure if you can see it but the cilantro leaf baked into the wafer cracker thing was pretty impressive and beautiful. The lamb was cooked for something like six hours and became incredibly tender and remained juicy. Great dish.

My dessert: doda barfi treacle tart with vanilla bean ice cream.

This was perfect. The tart on the bottom was similar to a toffee cake, or a cross between a cake and a crumble. Awesome.

My wife’s dessert: cheeni ki roti with marshmallows and old monk ice cream (rum raisin).

Beautiful plating, again, and really unique flavors. This was essentially like a disassembled pastry tart meets s’mores.

I also tasted a bite of the meethe chawal, which is sweet rice with almond milk and barberries. I said could have easily been a breakfast item as well as dessert. It was similar to oatmeal in taste and texture, only dry rather than like porridge.

Then some after dinner snacks came to the table:

And the chef gave us a brief tour of the kitchen:

And he finished us off with a scoop of mango sorbet right there in the kitchen. Very nice.

INDIAN ACCENT
123 W 56th St
New York, NY 10019

Tulsi

UPDATE: This place is now CLOSED!

A food buddy of mine set up a press/influencer meal at this midtown east Indian joint. I have somewhat of a deficit when it comes to Indian restaurant reviews on this site, so I was excited to try this place. I had heard good things from friends, and they were recently awarded a Michelin star.

We started with a bunch of apps.

The chicken tikka was my favorite of these babies. The meat was super tender inside and crispy/charred on the outside.

Chaat.

Paneer cheese.

Of course the amazing naan.

Their garlic naan was awesome, and went very nicely with the coconut shrimp curry.

In fact all of the curries I tried were pretty great here.

I also tried a goat biryani, which was probably the best biryani I’ve ever had. It was spicy! And the goat was super tender (just be aware of bones throughout).

My favorite dish of the night, however, was this halibut dish.

The fish was cooked really nicely, had great texture and a crisp outside, while remaining flakey and tender inside.

So beautiful too.

The lamb chops were incredibly tender as well. I really liked the spice profile on them. Aggressive, but really earthy. I didn’t get a shot of the inside, but they were cooked to a perfect medium rare to rare temperature. And like I said, so freaking tender. I actually cut them with a butter knife.

Dessert was interesting. My favorite was their rendition of cheesecake. Super creamy!

And I also liked these yogurt cream “cannoli”-like shells:

But everything else I tried was beautiful and tasty.

TULSI
211 E 46th St
New York, NY 10017

Indian Brunch with Restaurant Fairy

One of my foodie friends, The Restaurant Fairy, hosted a beautiful and delicious Indian brunch at her home and invited a bunch of us fellow foodies to come by.

They say that, in India, the best food is found either in the streets or in peoples’ homes. I can honestly say that I’ve never had better Indian food than I did at this homemade brunch. No restaurant in the city even comes close.

STARTERS

Puri, Indian street food snacks with chickpea spread filling:

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Sweet potato and squash spread with Indian spices and flat bread:

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Chaat (Indian savory snack food) consisting of chickpeas, avocado, yogurt and spicy sauces with crunchy puffs:

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Chickpea and lentil slider:

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Entrees

Full plates:

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Biryani rice:

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Yogurt sauce for rice:

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Daal (spiced lentils):

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Egg curry:

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Cabbage slaw with curry leaves:

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We also had some Chicken Tikka Masala toward the tail end but I didn’t shoot it. It was the best version of that dish I’ve ever had.

Dessert

Treats from Iran, similar to Turkish Delight:

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Walnut cookies with cream:

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Lala Sahab

Lala Sahab is an upper west side place for modern, creative and approachable Indian cuisine. The restaurant is named after Executive Chef/Owner Lala Sharma and the Hindi word for “Sir.”

Sharma began his career in his hometown of New Delhi at Bukhara, which is considered one of the 50 best restaurants in the world. In India, he trained with top chefs and learned the art of tandoor cooking.

The menu at Lala Sahab is divided into small plates, Mumbai bites, bhatti se (from the tandoor), choolah se (from the pan), larger traditional plates, biryanis and a “bread bar.”

The joint also has a newly installed full bar with cocktails, and a rotating line of draft beers and wines. In fact there’s a small bar in the front and a larger bar in the back, so there are two places to pull up for a refreshment.

I tried a 1947, which is an Indian imported beer that’s on par with a Bud or Coors. My wife tried a nice, thick and creamy mango lassi.

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Every meal begins with a basket of papadum, which is a thin lentil flour cracker. It’s served with a delicious green mint and cilantro chutney, as well as a tamarind chutney. I can seriously drink this green stuff. So refreshing and tasty.

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For those of you not familiar with this, the crackers are super thin and light, and you can taste the toasty lentil flavor. Way better than bread sticks or dinner rolls, guys!

The first app we tried was an order of tikka wale samosas.

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This is essentially a samosa with chicken tikka inside, and a creamy tikka masala dipping sauce on the side.

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These were packed with delicious, high quality meat and had a great crisp on the outside of the samosa. It’s no surprise that this dish is one of Lala Sahab’s best sellers and signature items.

Another really fun starter is the plate of chicken tikka sliders with cucumber and greens (three per order).

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These are garnished with a nice paprika mayo, and come with a pair of thick cut masala steak fry wedges. Very unique, and a fun way to integrate Indian cuisine into the American “slider” culture trend. I love a good chicken sandwich, and these sliders are right on par with some of my favorites in the city like Fuku+ and Delaney. They’re just not fried or flavored in the same style as those joints; they are distinctly and refreshingly Indian.

Since I’m the meat guy, and beef is typically scarce at Indian joints, I jumped at these lamb chops for my entree.

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There are four of them, served with tangy mushroom rice and lemon potatoes on the side.

The chops have decorative foil on the bone in case you want to grab it like a man and skip the fork and knife. They’re marinated in Indian spices, red wine and herbs. They’re cooked thru, but tenderized so beautifully with a great char from the tandoor oven.

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And of course, what good would an Indian dining experience be without a taste of curry? My wife and I tried this really luscious coconut shrimp curry.

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This comes with basmati rice, but we also got some garlic naan bread to dip. The shrimp were cooked perfectly, and to me that signals that they add them as the orders come, so they don’t get overcooked. Very smart. A mix of red peppers and onions are folded into the curry, but I bet this would really pop with some more heat from chili peppers. The menu advertises this as spicy, but I think they may have toned it down for the typical American palette. Give me the heat!

The garlic naan was great as well. It was topped with cilantro, and had good charring and bubble puffs throughout. Really yummy.

Dessert was simple and delicious.

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Rice pudding topped with crushed pistachio, and floated with a fried rice flour doughnut that was flavored with honey and coconut. This may sound crazy, but this little bowl of simplicity was my favorite part of the meal! The texture was nice, and it was just the right amount of sweetness in each bite.

I haven’t been to a lot of good Indian joints in this area until now, so Lala Sahab is a really important find. Go and give it a shot!

Note: I was invited to dine as a guest of this establishment and received a complimentary meal. This was not in exchange for a positive review; all opinions expressed are my own.

LALA SAHAB
489 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10024

Kokum

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED

I’m generally a pretty simple person when it comes to Indian food. I love a few of the popular and Americanized curries, and almost anything in the saagwala family (stewed spinach). In addition, Indian rice like Basmati is far and away the most superior rice that I’ve ever eaten. And who could pass up the amazing tandoori oven breads like naan, or delicious fried samosas? They’re amazing. But that’s such a limited, pinhole view of an incredibly vast and diverse cuisine.

Kokum opened my eyes and my stomach to items I would never think to order. Most of my experience with Indian food in NYC is centered around ordering delivery. What tends to happen is that I end up ordering the same things from the same places because I know that I will be satisfied. That’s lazy, and it precludes a lot of great stuff from ever hitting my palate. For example, I almost never order fish for delivery, from ANY kind of restaurant for that matter, not just Indian joints. I don’t know what it is, but I just never do it.

So when my wife and I came to Kokum for a press meal, we were pretty amazed at the inundation of flavors we were getting from a pair of Indian fish dishes that we probably never would have thought to order. I’ll get to those dishes in a moment, don’t worry. I just want to keep prattling on about Indian food a bit first, because I’m seeing the greatness of the cuisine with a fresh pair of eyes now; I’m re-motivated about the food, and really eager to dive deeper.

Kokum is a great place to do make that dive. It’s been open for three years, it’s captained by a Michelin starred chef, and it’s been reviewed favorably by top notch, respectable food critics from major publications.

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Chef Hemant Mathur distinguishes Kokum from the plethora of other Indian joints in Curry Hill by representing four regions in southern India: Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra. With his newly re-envisioned menu, he offers some items that most casual diners like me don’t often see or wouldn’t necessarily think about when eating at Indian restaurants or ordering delivery.

So here’s a run down of our meal. I’m always eager to try beers from all over the world. These two imports, Kingfisher and Taj, were mild lagers with good flavor. I preferred the Taj for the slightly more malty and round flavor at the back end.

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These little fried calamari-shaped doo-dads are multi-colored rice crackers. They come to the table at the start of the meal and are fun to snack on.

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We were then presented with two shot glasses of warm tomato, tamarind and lentil soup, called rasam. This was delicious, and similar to a hearty minestrone, only with more complex spice flavors. The lentil flavor was strong here, but the soup was strained of any chunks or actual lentils, so it was velvety smooth.

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We started with a pair of potato, cauliflower and pea samosas, These had a great crunchy pastry outer shell, and the inside was perfectly cooked and well seasoned.

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Next up was lasoni gobi: fried cauliflower bites in a tangy sauce. Imagine a cross between General Tso’s chicken and buffalo chicken wings flavors. I was impressed! They had a crispy outside and the cauliflower was soft and tender inside. The sauce had bits of peppers and onions.

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Fish poriyal came out next. This is flaky shredded fish with lime, shallots and mustard seeds, served on a banana leaf. My wife and I really loved this dish. It reminded me of some of the Vietnamese fried rice concoctions that my wife makes at home, only without the rice. Super healthy and very flavorful.

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This beautiful web like thing is called appum. It’s a huge bowl-shaped rice crepe that you basically rip up and eat with curries.

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Another vehicle for delivering delicious curry to your mouth is Kerala parotta, which is a multi layered bread that comes out steaming in a bamboo dumpling-style basket. Looks like onion rings with bits of potato mixed in. It’s cool bread.

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This first curry is kori gassi. It’s a spicy and savory Mangalorean (an ethnic group from the south western coast of India) coconut chicken curry. This was by far my favorite item of the night. It had a great, rich and salty flavor with nicely balanced heat. The chicken was perfectly cooked, super tender, and varied by cut (both dark and white meat portions).

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This next bowl is keerai masiyal: spinach, lentils and red chilies in a savory broth. Since this dish had a more soup-like consistency, it seemed to pair better with the rice. This is definitely a solid choice for you health-conscious eaters out there. It packs flavor and its satisfying, but its low on calories and fat content.

Our final entree was meen polichattu, which is roasted cod that’s wrapped in banana leaf with green masala. It comes with a side of diced, fried banana that serve as a starch element similar to a potato side. It had a nice high level of spice, was really tender and was completely devoid of any bones. Lovely!

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We tried two items for dessert. The first was rasmalai. This is a cold dish of cheese balls in sweet reduced milk (like a vanilla custard soup) with pistachios. I liked this because it wasn’t too sweet.

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In fact, the above cold dessert went really well when you combined it with the warm dessert, gulab jamun. These are warm cardamom dough balls in a honey-flavored and sugary sweet syrup. This was very sweet, so I loved going back and forth with the cheese balls to balance the flavors.

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That about does it. I highly recommend trying this place out. I was really impressed and will definitely be back for more.

KOKUM
106 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10016

Premium Sweets

After eating Bangladeshi food across the street, a group of us walked into this joint for dessert.

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The display case glowed with interesting shit I’d never tasted before.

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We tried several items, most of which had similar flavors (dense, yet sugary and moist quasi-cakes), but each was packaged and presented with different textures, colors, etc.

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The most interesting was this spherical thing that had smaller spherical things attached to it like sprinkles. In the middle was a pink colored paste of some kind. It tasted like a very light cheese cake.

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This actually tasted like sweet cheese in a creamy cold broth.

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But my favorite was this snaggle of deliciousness, which was essentially a honey-soaked funnel cake. It was crispy on the outside but juicy through and through. When biting down on it, the liquefied honey just oozed out like squeezing a dessert sponge. Yum!

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PREMIUM SWEETS
3714 73rd St
Jackson Heights, NY 11372

Haat Bazaar

My first foray into Bangladeshi food was a good one. A buddy of mine, who hails from Bangladesh, took me, my wife, and a few other friends here to give us a taste of the cuisine.

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Many people, including Yelp, seem to lump this cuisine in with Indian food, but I was thinking the flavors of Bangladeshi food are more aromatic. The dishes have more of a floral “nose” to them (possibly some rose water in the rice dishes), and are less sweet than the Indian food that I’m familiar with. There is a similar earthy spice regimen to Indian, but Bangladeshi food is definitely distinct enough, even aside from the proteins (beef is generally not found in most Indian joints, and fish has a bigger presence in Bangladeshi food).

We tried a pair of rice dishes. One had goat as the protein, and was biryani style. Both came with hard boiled egg as well, but the one served with the goat had a breading over it that was really interesting. The goat meat was surprisingly tender and not greasy, though I preferred the chicken dish to a huge degree. The chicken was moist and tender (it was a leg), and the smaller grain rice that came with it had a “fried rice” quality that was really delicious.

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The beef was super tender. It was roughly chopped, so you had to be mindful of bones, but the end product was a very “melt in your mouth” braised quality. The same goes for this chicken dish, which was cooked and prepared in a similar way:

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The fish was interesting. While not my favorite, it was cooked properly and remained juicy, flakey and moist. The shrimp, on the other hand, was a bit overcooked and slightly grainy as a result.

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All in this was a pretty great meal. There was more food too, that I didn’t shoot. We ate like kings and I think the bill came to about $14 each, including tax and tip. Awesome value.

I think the joint could benefit from a cleaner environment, however. Tables turn over very fast, as the place is super busy ALL THE TIME, so you get some grub leftover on the tables as a result. That being said, this is a no-frills joint, with food pre-prepared and ready to roll from under a glass counter where everything is kept on warmers. So go into it knowing that it is fast casual, not a fancy sit-down place. Also – eating with your hands is encouraged!

HAAT BAZAAR
3711 73rd St
Flushing, NY 11372

Akbar Palace

Nestled below a pole dancing and twerking school (I shit you not; you can see the poles in the windows above the right hand side of the entrance in the photo), is Akbar Palace.

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We scored a flash deal for this joint: $20 gets you $40. The management was nice enough to honor our Groupon even after the expiration date too, which was cool.

Each table gets some flat cracker type bread with some chutneys.

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There was tamarind sauce (left), apricot chutney (center), and a really nice tomato, onion and pepper chutney that I never tried before (right). That was my favorite of the three.

We started with a pair of apps that sounded delicious but ended up being a bit flat from our expectations. First was the pepper crusted scallops. I liked that they had a good grilled-on-the-flattop flavor, but the portion size was a bit small.

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Same goes for the crispy calamari. The tempura-esque coating was interesting, though I didn’t get that curry leaf flavor that I expected from the menu description.

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My wife ordered a boneless lamb dish but got semi-bone-in goat instead. No matter – it was really tasty, and the meat was tender.

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I had chicken makhani, which is like chicken tikka, but served in a mildly spicy tomato and yogurt sauce. This was pretty good. The meat was of good quality and the sauce was nice over rice, or on top of the naan bread.

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The naan was good. It was soft, yet crisp, and had good texture from the tandoori oven flames. It was lightly coated with olive oil as well.

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We skipped dessert since we had the lassis earlier. They were smooth and creamy, tart and sweet, and ice cold. Perfect. This place is known for its mango lassis. They are truly excellent, so if you go here, make sure you try one.

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I felt that the bill was a bit high even after applying our $40 credit to it. We still had to shell out $50 for the remainder, the tax and the tip. Does this look like a $90 meal to you? I don’t know… I’m starting to think that some of these Groupon deals aren’t so good. As Admiral Ackbar would say (namesake of this restaurant?): IT’S A TRAP!

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My official recommendation on this flash deal: skip it, but stop by for a mango fucking lassi if you’re in the area.

AKBAR PALACE
47-49 W. 55th St.
New York, NY 10019