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.
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.
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.
This is essentially a samosa with chicken tikka inside, and a creamy tikka masala dipping sauce on the side.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
489 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10024