If you are in New York and you love Indian food now and then, like I do, it helps knowing where the best Indian restaurants are. Nowadays there are all kinds of restaurants in NY offering what they call authentic Indian cuisine but most fall short. Indian cuisine is as varied as the land itself with dishes from North India bearing a distinctly different flavour and spices than those from the South.
Photo by blue.tofu
Besides the food (which has to be good, of course) there’s also the setting. I like Indian restaurants that give you a feel of India through their décor, music, ambience and the service offered by their staff. So here’s my list of top five Indian restaurants – each talks about a unique cuisine from different parts of India, so you would probably want to try them all!
Upscale and Chic: Devi
The only Indian restaurant to have earned a Michelin star, this 75-seater restaurant is to be saved for that special occasion – offering a largely North Indian cuisine, you can either choose from a fixed three course menu ($40) or splurge on the chef’s tasting menu ($85), or create your own. Pick from a mouth-watering set of appetizers (including my all-time favourite, Bombay Bhel-puri) and follow that up with some biryani, parathas and some tandoori chicken. Makes for a very satisfying evening, I’d say. They’re located at 8 E 18th St Frnt 1.
Traditionally South: Pongal
Named after the South Indian harvest festival, Pongal is one of the few restaurants to offer a kosher menu. If you have never tasted rasam before, then I recommend this hearty lentil and tomato soup. Sample the appetizers like idly and vada or dive straight into the Pongal lunch. Finish off with a dessert of the ever popular gulab jamun. A meal here costs about $10 and is worth every bit. Located at 110 Lexington Ave
Authentic Punjab: Dhaba
Reminiscent of the road-side eateries that line the highways of Punjab, this restaurant is for those who love the rich flavour of Punjabi cooking. Located on Murray Hill, you will be sure to find a crowd of Indian patrons here. Choose from among the murgh makhi (butter chicken) or spicy mutton curries, accompanied by generous servings of good ol’ butter naan. Or, take a risk and order something unfamiliar – Dhaba claims that none of their dishes will let you down. A great bargain for $10. There’s also a $12.95 lunch buffet on Sundays.
Impossible Combinations: Mehtaphor
Besides the interesting name, chef Jehangir Mehta’s skill with a seemingly impossible combination of ingredients make this place a must-eat in NY. Borrowing from the Parsi style of cooking, Mehta also throws in hints of Thai to create a unique menu you won’t find anywhere else. Located at 130 Duane St. (Church St.), you can expect to spend about $50 for a meal here.
Bangla Cuisine: Calcutta Café
If you’ve never tried Bengali food, then head out to the Calcutta Café, located on 2735 Broadway (between 104th St & 105th St). The banana pakoras are a favourite with most who eat here as is their Sunday dinner buffet ($11.99 including a glass of wine).
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