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THE best Indian, period: Angon, featuring Chowhound fave Mina!


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THE best Indian, period: Angon, featuring Chowhound fave Mina!

Linda Songe | Aug 22, 2004 12:42 AM

Hi, all - this is Linda, a regular poster to the outer borough board. For the past couple of years there on "our" board, a Bangaladeshi-Indian restaurant in Queens might have been the most popular restaurant of any kind. It was called Mina, named after the chef. The unanimous raves could have lined up for miles. Well, to get to the punchline right away, Mina left a few months ago and the Queens restaurant went downhill practically overnight. That restaurant had said she went back to Bangladesh. As others have posted here and on the outer borough board, that turned out to be the Queens restaurant's phony spin... because our beloved legend MINA IS NOW AT ANGON restaurant in Manhattan, on E. 6th Street in Little India between 1st and 2nd Avenues! MINA LIVES!

My husband and our daughter went to the Mina-chefed Angon for the first time tonight. HEAVEN. JUST INCREDIBLE. Everything we loved Mina for being. The best, most delectable Chana Masala - chickpea dish - we ever had. The nine-vegetable curry was outrageously good; I cannot even do justice in describing it. And because we used to love the whole fish at the Queens restaurant, tonight we ordered whole Tilapia that came crispy-skinned in a sweet but delicate sauce. The perfect, perfect dish. Do ask for the fish whole if you like it that way - the menu only featured cubed, boneless Tilapia. The samosas and the naan remain the best there is, even better than when Mina was at the Queens restaurant, if that is possible.

Besides being the chef, Mina is a partner at Agnon. We met and chatted up her copartner Milton, an extremely warm, gregarious guy who worked the room himself, giving this restaurant a wonderful family feel. Milton explained that he had known Mina for years - she's apparently just as legendary in the NYC Bengali-Indian community - and grabbed her right away when he learned she wanted to leave.

The difference between Agnon and Mina's old Queens restaurant - and this is major - is that Agnon is FAR more upscale in every way possible. Whereas the Queens restaurant had amazing food in an endearingly dumpy atmosphere, the new Agnon room is absolutely beautiful. Far prettier, in fact, than anything else on Little India's Sixth Street. And whereas the Queens restaurant's prices were obscenely inexpensive in return for massive quantities of food, Agnon's prices are definitely higher, though average for Little India and reasonable for Manhattan -- but in return for far smaller portions than the Queens restaurant had. If you have big appetites, these portions will require you to order one more entree than the number of people in your party, or at least several appetizers or lots of naan.

NOTE to Milton: As other posters here have also written, this is the one thing about Angon you have to change. The portions should be 20 to 25 percent larger.

Perhaps one slight difference is that the menu is slightly more mainstream, more in keeping with the other restaurants on Sixth Street, than that of the old Queens restaurant, which had quirkier dishes that included a lot of goat. But not here. Still, the food at Angon - and Mina's cooking - remains the best South Asian we've ever had in New York and perhaps the United States. We even feel the difference now, a couple of hours after arriving home. Most Indian in the U.S. is so non-nuanced and butter heavy, you need a nap afterward. Not Mina's food - complex spices without any of that heavy-handed, and heavy, preparation.

The service, led by Milton himself, was terrific - far better than at the old Queens restaurant where the service was always bad even when the food was great. That's not to say we didn't wait a long time for our food tonight, but Milton was apologetic in advance, explaining that Mina herself does all the cooking. And who among us would want it any other way?!!

What made tonight even nicer was that we were surrounded at various times by three other tables of Chowhounders who overheard us and similarly came to the restaurant upon learning that this was where Mina landed. We met fellow poster Kirk and his lovely wife and adorable son.

At the end of the evening, we asked to meet Mina. She came out and everyone applauded. A great evening at one of New York's great new restaurants.

Thank you, Milton, thank you, Mina and thanks to the Chowhounders who told us where Mina went!

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