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Curious no more! Five of us went to Dhamaka last night, and as promised by the restaurant, we were seated in the southeast corner of the "outdoor" space (yes, @joethefoodie, as far from the curb as possible), opposite a rolled-up panel that let in the fresh Delancey Street air. And the cold. The staff provided us with an extremely balky propane heater that looked as if it had last been used during the 1973 ice storm. It threw off a lot of heat, but the flame also kept going out, adding the scent of propane to the scent of exhaust wafting in from the Wiliamsburg Bridge on-ramp. Eventually we warmed up enough - the food is spicy! - to not need it. The staff was overall very sweet and attentive, but there were a fair amount of missteps, beginning with the server trying to take drink and food orders at the same time and NO.

The two drinks I had were spectacular, the Paan-E-Bahar (below) and the Gulaabo. Both were gin-based and had a lot going on, but the effect was more "ooh, what's that?" instead of "enough already!" That's betel leaf in the drink. We had an argument over whether it's pronounced bettle or beetle.

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I started with the Paplet Fry, which I loved, although it's very bony and hard to eat in a dainty fashion, the one I use when people can see me. Unfortunately, a runner took it before I was finished, which was upsetting. To atone for this, we were each given a shot of mango lassi at the end of the meal which was...fine, I guess. I also ordered paratha (it was paratha) and the Ragda Pattice, a potato patty submerged in a creamy, quite spicy sauce. It was lovely. Looks like this:

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And my generous friends gave me taste of the Bharela Marcha and the Beguni, neither of which I was that crazy about. The latter was somewhat redeemed by its mustard sauce; it was basically an eggplant popper, without it. One of us got the Tabak Maaz, and it's a good thing he's the only one who eats lamb and didn't have to share, 'cause he went through it in about 90 seconds. The two vegetarians got the Paneer Methi, and the spice wimp got the Chicken Pulao. They all had leftovers - the food's pretty big.

We certainly did not feel rushed, but there was some weirdness when the check came. I was figuring out what everybody owed when the server came by to point out that the tip was not included (I had noticed, thanks) and to also note that it was nevertheless the restaurant's policy to add a 20% tip to larger parties (yes, that was the plan). We paid in cash, which caused some consternation - he had to go and let someone know about this. And then when he had the cash in hand, he counted it. At the table. Twice. So that was odd. But overall a nice experience, and I'd go back if I can sit at the bar and try some more of the drinks.

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look, the last time we indians trusted white people with cash transactions you stayed for 300 years and took over.

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We sat inside, which was not a very enjoyable experience because they were playing truly horrible music at high volume and management was huddled by the entrance being weird, but still probably better than outside in the cold by those explosive looking heaters. 

The paplet fry, as you say, is bony and requires the use of fingers but was very successful, mostly because the breading was very well spiced without the spices burning during frying. 

The goat offal dish was also excellent and it was served with two pao / pav rolls. There was enough sauce / oil to enjoy with 20 rolls, but only enough offal for two. Maybe that's a good thing calorie wise but it felt a bit sad saying goodbye to all that sauce. Also I've had this dish, as well as closely related liver and kidney dishes before and I've never seen it presented this way.

Main courses of baby shark and mutton had similarly way too much sauce and unfortunately (or, again, fortunately) the miniscule size of the rice dish and chapati meant there was nothing to do about that. I liked the baby shark (was it shark? I dunno) which had quite a complex sauce, but thought the mutton was a bit boring - it might have been better if then the waiter who tried to squeeze the roasted garlic into the sauce would actually have gotten it squeezed at all. 

Grilled prawns were very overcooked and almost impossible to separate off their shells so I can't tell you much about them. 

Except for the relatively moderate fish fry and eggplant, everything was running at spice and spiciness levels that I think might be difficult for them to maintain. Unapologetic for sure. 

Agreed on the cocktails. I only skimmed the wine list but it seemed pretty bad.

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The music was pounding in the dining room, but out in the tent we couldn't hear it, blessedly. They were out of the shark, or I would probably have ordered it. Next time. Thanks for the heads up about the prawns - I love them, but I'm wary of getting them in a restaurant, since they are so often stuck to the shell and dried out. And I have some faith in the spice levels staying where they are - there were a lot of apparently South Asian people in the place.

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11 hours ago, Wilfrid said:

Thanks for this. When I walked by headed to Formaggio I could only ponder the $190 rabbit.

 Every time I walk by (which is almost daily), I ponder the thunderous traffic on Delancey Street. And the new city that has been and is continuing to be constructed in the immediate environs. 

These excellent descriptions of the restaurant don't seem to be making me want to rush to try it any time soon.

 

 

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The street noise didn't bother me. it was late-ish on a Wednesday, so traffic was light, and we were pretty loud ourselves. But in a smaller group at a different time, it would have been problematic, and the dining room music is very intrusive. Maybe they'll have "adult swim" hours at some point.

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this is basically adda 2, right? the menu looks to be from the exact same template. which can only be a good thing.

by the way, friends i trust recommend a place called veeray da dhaba for far more old-school punjabi food.

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17 hours ago, small h said:

 

And then when he had the cash in hand, he counted it. At the table. Twice. 

 

look, the last time we indians trusted white people with cash transactions you stayed for 300 years and took over.

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There are similarities for sure.  

We had delivery from VdD a couple of times during the lockdown. It's acceptable-ish but not an option I'd consider under normal circumstances. 

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11 minutes ago, mongo_jones said:

look, the last time we indians trusted white people with cash transactions you stayed for 300 years and took over.

They had my credit card info (to hold the table), which is probably the only reason we were allowed to sit by a big open tent flap.  We could've been gone in seconds!

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19 minutes ago, small h said:

They had my credit card info (to hold the table), which is probably the only reason we were allowed to sit by a big open tent flap.  We could've been gone in seconds!

 

that's what robert clive told siraj-ud-daula.

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44 minutes ago, mongo_jones said:

this is basically adda 2, right? the menu looks to be from the exact same template. which can only be a good thing.

by the way, friends i trust recommend a place called veeray da dhaba for far more old-school punjabi food.

 

29 minutes ago, Orik said:

There are similarities for sure.  

We had delivery from VdD a couple of times during the lockdown. It's acceptable-ish but not an option I'd consider under normal circumstances. 

We haven’t gone to either place yet.  I was hoping that Hemant (& his partner in this venture) would have a hit with VdD but, unfortunately, yours is not the only mediocre review I’ve heard.

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  • 1 month later...

They’re opening Masalawala in Park Slope, probably in the fall.  Wonder if it’ll be like the original or more like Adda, Rani or Dhamaka.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I was skulking around Essex Market today and asked a not-very-pleasant woman mopping the floors at Dhamaka whether food was being serving at the bar. Yes! But not today, 'cause they're closed on Mondays (she said this twice). In case this is of interest to anyone, like maybe @Sneakeater.

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