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  • Restaurants
  • Union Square
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Kanyakumari
    Photograph: Courtesy of Melissa Hom
  2. Kanyakumari
    Photograph: Courtesy of Melissa Hom

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

An invitation to “journey from Mumbai to Kanyakumari” near Union Square.

Union Square Park seems quieter than I can ever recall seeing it in the evening, even pre-pandemic. On a recent walk along its eastern and northern edges a couple of hours after dark on a recent weeknight, I tried to imagine telling a tourist what it was like as recently as the twenty-teens. Not that I even noticed any apparent out-of-towners—an infrequent paucity in most of Manhattan’s geometrically-named geographical landmarks. 

Lively Kanyakumari, from restaurateur Salil Mehta (Laut, Wau, Kebab aur Sharab) and chef Dipesh Shinde (who opened the latter with Mehta in 2022) about a half-block west on 17th Street betrays that quiet. Only about a month after opening, the pretty space that seats 56 awash in honeyed light, inviting you to “journey from Mumbai to Kanyakumari,” is comfortably packed, even on weeknights. That means that, while you should still probably make a reservation, you won’t wait an inordinately long time to actually get seated after booking. 

Drinks come up swiftly, too, including pleasant efforts like the Curry Leaf ($18) with vodka, coconut, lime and the obvious botanical or spot-on classic martinis (about $21). The dinner menu spans a single page. Listed under “from Tamil Nadu,” the golf ball-sized bonda ($15/4) is wonderfully crisp and fried to golden outside, its interior curd rice creamy and just a tick tart. The bite-sized pieces of fried chicken from Kanyakumari ($18) have a good crunch, too, and a much milder finish than their crimson coating might indicate. 

Among the larger plates, the goat biryani from Bangalore ($28) is scant on that protein, pretty hidden in its aromatic, nicely-spiced jeerakasala rice, but what’s there is tender with a mellow, yet unmistakable gamey flavor. Beware the abundant bones in the amma mess fish ($42) from Kozhikode, whose unspiked bites are a delight, satiny and covered in a sensational curry that disappears as fast as flaky layers of malabar paratha ($5)—one of the best things on the menu to pair with anything you can—will hold it. 


The Vibe: Bustling but comfortable, with nicely-paced service in pretty environs. 

The Food: Coastal South Indian cuisine with starter-sized plates like crisp bonda and fried chicken and fantastic curry covering a bone-in fish. 

The Drinks: Beer, wine and cocktails. 

Kanyakumari is located at 20 East 17th Street. It is open Tuesday-Thursday from 5:30pm-10:30pm, Friday-Saturday from 5pm-11pm and Sunday from 5pm-9:30pm. 

Amber Sutherland-Namako
Written by
Amber Sutherland-Namako


20 East 17th Street
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