The wifey and I love Indian food, and when we were planning our trip to NY, I had heard some great things about Babu Ji. They are originally from Australia, and are now bringing the hipster Indian food vibe to the US.
They offer their menu a la carte, first come - first serve seating. But if they do take reservations for their Chef's Tasting Menu for $60, which is exactly what we went for.
First up was a little indian amuse bouche - I don't remember the name and it was off menu - but we weren't allowed to put it on our plate and it had to go straight into the mouth. It was a little flavor bomb that literally exploded with flavors of tamarind and chutney in your mouth. Great start.
This dish was, by far, the star of the night. It looks and tastes exactly like Panda Express Orange Chicken, but better! Nobody would ever guess that it is fried cauliflower. I would think about becoming vegetarian if every vegetable could be cooked like this. The cauliflower was creamy, while the chili was just spicy enough. The only downfall of this dish was that there were only 2 pieces per person - not nearly enough.
DishRanker Fried Cauliflower Score: +3
Next up was the Papadi Chaat, which is their version of nachos. It's a mixture of chickpea, cucumber, pomegranate, tamarind, mint and yogurt chutney laid on top of crispy papdums. This was also a winner with the complex flavors of each bite. I definitely prefer this over nachos with that fake cheesy stuff.
DishRanker Nacho Score: +2
I don't normally post pictures of my drinks, but I just loved this beer can design. I honestly don't even remember what the beer tasted like - I just loved the pigs slapping bellies.
Sorry for the pic here, but we were a little too excited to dig into Babu Ji's Tandoori Chicken. This has got to be one of the most tender tandoori chickens I've had. It could have been a little spicier, but definitely a hit at the table. I did appreciate the bits of mango tossed on the chicken. Again, not enough pieces to really enjoy it as there was only 1 piece of chicken per person.
DishRanker Tandoori Chicken Score: +2
At last, we were presented with our flurry of curries, served with fresh naan, rice and raita. From left to right:
Butter Chicken: Again, extremely tender chicken in a fenugreek curry. Great for logmeh making with naan and raita. DishRanker Butter Chicken Score: +3
Southern India Lamb Curry: This curry finally offered up the heat that I was hoping to get at some point during the meal. The lamb was a little gamey, but I was just happy to feel some heat on my tongue. DishRanker Lamb Curry Score: +1
Scallop Coconut Curry: I never had scallops in my indian curry, but this one was a welcome surprise. The coconut is a little overwhelming with this dish, but when paired with the lamb curry, it was a nice curry to help cool things down. DishRanker Coconut Curry Score: +1
Babu's Dal: Simple lentil curry. Nothing too memorable, but if you're looking for a vegetarian curry, you can't go wrong here. DishRanker Dal Score: +1
For dessert, we were offered Housemade All Natural Cardamom, Honey & Pistachio Kulfi. They are presented in their steel forms, and when warmed up a bit, you pull out the ice cream on a stick. The ice cream was reminiscent of persian ice cream, but the cardamom and honey really brought the indian flavors out. This was a really nice ending to the meal.
DishRanker Kulfi Score: +3
All in all, it was a great meal where we tried a lot of new things, and the service was very attentive and pleasurable. I don't know if the Chef's Tasting Menu is the way to go though - it was good to get a taste of everything, but I think ordering a la carte, and getting larger portions of the things you actually want would lend itself to a much better meal. Aside from that, we had a great night at Babu Ji NYC, and I think they would do great in LA (a la Badmaash).