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As a Queens native, I’m all too familiar with the culinary mecca that lies beyond the East River. From the bounty of Thai joints in Woodside and Greek gems in Astoria to the Michelin-starred Casa Enrique in Long Island City, the restaurant scene in this overlooked borough deserves more credit. So when chef Chintan Pandya and owner Roni Mazumdar announced they were bringing a new Indian concept to LIC, I was hopeful this would be one more reason to make Queens a destination for dinner.
On a recent rainy evening, every wooden table in the small eatery—right off the 33rd Street stop of the 7 train—was filled. The aromas of toasted spices perfumed the dining room, where all eyes could be seen admiring an accent wall covered top to bottom with collaged images from Indian newspapers and magazines.
The menu goes beyond the stalwarts of butter chicken and biryani (though both are present on the menu—and delightful), introducing your palate to new, flavorful dishes bursting with heat and acidity. Crispy, fried kale pakoda topped with ground chickpeas and sweet-and-tangy chutneys give addictive nacho vibes, while the fiery bhatti da murgh highlights a tandoori-roasted chicken leg crusted in spices. For saag paneer lovers, the paneer khurchan takes the soft Indian cheese—house-made, so it’s lighter than what you’re used to—and stews it with peppers and tomatoes, perfect for dipping with pieces of their cheese-and-chili naan.
The wonderful display of elevated yet approachable Indian cooking was matched only by the attentive and convivial service I received from start to finish. Looks like the spice is right at this homey hot spot.