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This is located on 11th Street at Avenue B, in the old Spina space.

 

These guys have restaurants in Australia (the chef told me he's from Melbourne), and this is their first foray into NYC. The style is, I guess, "modern Indian". Is it authentic? I have no idea. Not sure if Babu Ji focuses on any particular region, but it should be noted that the chef (Jessi Singh) is Punjabi.

 

The place is already not so easy to get into - I was able to get in fairly easily around 10pm on a Saturday night, but they were still pretty packed. They maintain a wait list on a clipboard outside that you write your name on and wait to be called.

 

Sharing is encouraged. They give you a metal tray to eat off of, and each course is placed in the middle with serving spoons. They serve beer and wine only, and beer is self-service (you have to grab it yourself out of their beer fridge).

 

We ordered:

 

Gol gappa ($12)

Yogurt* kebab ($14)

Lamb rogan josh ($20)

Roasted squash coconut curry ($16)

Daal ($14)

Basmati rice ($5)

Kulfi ($6)

Gulab jamon ($6)

 

The food was, mostly, terrific. The gol gappa came as six oval-shaped crisps filled with tamarind and spices, which you pop in your mouth and eat whole. Terrific. The yogurt kebab was two hockey puck shaped, fried yogurt rounds with spices, served in a beet sauce. Very good. The lamb rogan josh was cubes of lamb served in a brown curry sauce, but more thin than the typical curry. Very good. The roasted squash coconut curry was chunks of squash in a thick, yellow coconut curry - this may have been the least favorite of the night. It was overly sweet. The daal was actually our favorite - this was a cup of thick, stewed lentils and spices. Terrific. Desserts were actually very good, too. The kulfi - flavored with cardamom and pistachio, comes in a metal tube that you have to warm up with your hands in order to get it to release from the tube. It's probably the best kulfi being served in the city right now. The gulab jamon were also terrific - they were two, sort of Indian-style donut holes, topped with gold leaf and drowned in honey.

 

The bill came to around $150 for two before tip, including a bottle of wine. I would say it's definitely worth a trip. Probably the most interesting Indian restaurant in town right now.

 

 

*The menu didn't mention if the yogurt contained additives.

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Yaaay, finally someone's been to this place. I'm glad to hear the food was good: I'm eager to see more 'modern' Indian food in New York.

 

Sietsema went at the beginning of the summer and thought it not as 'daring' as the original Australian. He also wondered: 'is this the palate of sweet and fruity flavors Australians adore?'

 

The kulfi tubes are traditional metal moulds that Singh 'smuggles' from India.

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what are fried yogurt rounds? how do you fry yogurt? also what is "modern indian" about this menu?

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Looks nice -- was the yogurt strained and cheese-like? Fairly certain that's meant to evoke the beet and fried goat cheese salads of my 90s youth.

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I'm no cultural historian [and I certainly know better than to tangle with Mongo on definitions of Indian cuisine], but a lot of the press coverage of Babu Ji here and in Australia employs the adjectives 'modern' and 'contemporary'. The subtitle of the Voice review is 'Modern Indian Food With an Aussie Accent'. I haven't tried the food yet so I've no idea if the flavours are somehow modern, though I suppose the presentation is a bit more stylish than the usual curry house.

 

Interestingly, the original restaurant describes itself as 'classic' [though also 'not so classic'], 'traditional', 'authentic'. However, they do seem to contrast their approach v 'old traditional restaurants...stuck in the ’60s and ’70s' in this interview.

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...stuck in the ’60s and ’70s'

 

Doesn't that cover Australia?

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I thought 'Modern Australian' covered at least till 2004? :cool:

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...stuck in the ’60s and ’70s'

 

Doesn't that cover Australia?

 

 

Melbourne is still '50s.

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well, someone who tries the butter chicken, tandoori chicken, paneer tikka, rogan josh, black dal, mango lassi etc. will have to tell us if they're making these things in any way different from other places. some of the other stuff on the menu may be "new to new york", possibly (though i doubt it) but there's nothing modern or contemporary about them--i'd guess this comes in not from the food but from the plating and the restaurant's aesthetic.

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Yes, aesthetics: if you check out the interior, and indeed the website. It's striving to be nothing like East 6th Street or Curry Hill (and it's actually not unique in doing so). Look forward to trying it some time.

 

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whoever did the stenciling of proverbs/idioms on the walls doesn't know hindi very well. the first horizontal phrase should be "ghar ki murgi dal barabar" ("the hen of the house is not valued more than dal"); instead they have it as "ghar ki margi dal barabar"*. "margi" isn't a word but it comes close to saying "the death of the house is valued more than dal". maybe you shouldn't order the dal?

 

and in the vertical one it should be "shakkar" (sugar) not "shakhar" (god knows what).

 

*they also have the wrong vowel sound there in the "ki".

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