Transatlantic hound JFores, spoiled by the South Asian grills of London, tends to pass on kebabs and such when he's back in New York. On this side of the pond, meats are generally cooked in advance to languish under heat lamps, and as J notes, "a seekh kebab has no business being left out for 4 hours." So Bundu Khan, a Pakistani grill at the eastern edge of Queens, came as a delightful surprise. Its chapli and seekh kebabs are made to order and done quite well, reports J, who faults the place only for using chicken instead of the customary lamb. Polecat recommends the gola kebab paratha, a flatbread stuffed almost to bursting with moist, nicely spiced minced beef. (He isn't so keen on the chicken version, which came underfilled and overdressed.) "Great place for a few naan and some grilled stuff," sums up JFores—and a hit with the locals, who are lining up for carryout.
Bundu Khan is part of a booming Desi enclave—centered in Floral Park, Glen Oaks, and Bellerose, just inside the city limits—that Chowhounds have been tracking for some time. A rarity that's mostly eluded them is the tropical, seafood, and vegetable-based food of India's Kerala state. (One promising venue, Kerala Kitchen, surfaced a few years ago, but it often seems to be closed to all but the catering trade.) Now Keralan chow has turned up not far from Bundu Khan on the daily buffet at Taste of Cochin.
Among these southern regional specialties, el jefe enjoyed aviyal (coconut-yogurt vegetable curry), fish molee (coconut-based curry), and the dry vegetable dishes called thoran. Other winners in this unusually expansive spread were goat curry and palak paneer (not so good: tandoori chicken, chicken tikka masala, uttapam). Servers work the room, el jefe adds, passing out hot, fresh-baked paratha and naan.
Polecat is no fan of Taste of Cochin's buffet, though this recent talk of Keralan food has him intrigued. For him and others, the local Keralan hot spot is Five Star Indian Cuisine, which moved over the Nassau County line a couple of years ago to its current digs in New Hyde Park. Well over a year after his last meal there, he confesses, "I'm still craving their fish curry and spicy shrimp."
Bundu Khan Kabab House [Floral Park]
253-19 Union Turnpike (between 248th and 249th streets), Floral Park, Queens
Taste of Cochin [Floral Park]
248-08 Union Turnpike (between 248th and 249th streets), Floral Park, Queens
Five Star Indian Cuisine [New Hyde Park]
247 Jericho Turnpike (between S. Fourth and S. Fifth streets), New Hyde Park