High Chai

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5

18 Ave B between Second and Third Aves (212-477-2424). Subway: F, V to Lower East Side--Second Ave. Sun--Thu 5pm--4am; Fri, Sat 24hrs. Average main course: $15.

The name sounds Indian; the menu mixes Russian, Chinese and American cuisines; and the music—which blared during one recent visit—was Latin. The East Village's newest late-night eatery is certainly hard to peg. Tea plays a big role: The menu lists all kinds of blends, the cocktails list features "marTEAnis" (vodka-and-tea drinks), and antique samovars line the walls. Indeed, the space looks like some ancient Turkish hangout: the walls are red and yellow, the floors are artfully tiled, the ceiling is covered in tin, and the dark mahogony booths were rescued from an old synagogue. The food tends to be overly sweet, but the portions are generous and the service is genuinely warm and reliable. Appetizers, unfortunately, are pricey; two tiny spring rolls—whose fillings fell from their shells upon being lifted—cost $8.50. Entres, which are priced far more reasonably, between $11 and $17, include a variety of proteins in exotic sauces (many of which make use of tea): tea-smoked salmon with warm spinach-apple salad, spiced-tea-rubbed skirt steak and hot-and-sweet chicken curry. If the place still sounds interesting, consider going for the drinks, inquiring about live music—the schedule is sporadic—and preparing for an intimate meal: We were the only patrons in the place. On two different occasions.--TONY