Looking for something different last night while down in Gramercy Park, I wandered into
Chinese Mirch on Lex near W28 with 2 friends, one native Indian who I will call DS. This was my first taste of this cuisine and, although always curious, I guess I had always been a bit reluctant to try it purely out of ignorance.
It was one of those evenings when ya walk from restaurant to restaurant checking menus until the group reaches an agreement. When DS suggested this fusion - "When it's done right, it's really, really good" - I dragged her over to this place on the corner I had noticed countless times. She checked the menu, confirmed that it seemed to offer the expected menu items and gave it a thumbs up. When we walked in, she quickly noted (somehow) that many of the restaurant's guests were native Indian which she felt was a good sign!
The place is small but very cute with a couple of tables downstairs and a row of approximately 20 tables up a small flight of stairs. Very nice, minimalistic decor with a cool, flapping leaf-type-thingy (row of about 8 leaves) operating as an exotic ceiling fan. Yeh, I know this thing has a name and I'm sure someone will offer it on this board.
We began with the Mirch 65 (chicken with curry leaves and chiles) and the Gobi Manchurian (cauliflower with ginger, garlic and onion seasoning). Both dishes were extremely tasty, bursting with a combo of unique flavors that I don't believe I've experienced before.
We then ordered the chili chicken and chicken manchurian, both with gravy, for our entrees along with a large order of the basmati rice b/c the entrees are served a la carte. I sort of wished we had branched out a bit with different options as these dishes were sort of similar to the appetizers but we went with the recommendations of DS. The chicken chili was very, very good. I was less impressed with the chicken manchurian (which was nothing like the gobi manchurian) and DS mentioned that this dish is typically prepared as balls of minced chicken, ginger and garlic rather than chunks of chicken with these seasonings. She ordered this dish hoping it would have been prepared that way but it was not. Still good but a bit flat. Since I love spice, I can confirm that the dishes were adequately spiced although we did not stress a desire to have them prepared with extra spice.
DS told us that, although she has attempted to prepare some of these dishes at home, neither she nor her mom/grandmother could ever get the chicken to become as soft as it is served in these restaurants. The chicken was incredibly soft but, somehow, not at all mushy and was cleaned very well and of high quality which is seldom seen.
The dessert menu looked great - warm chocolate cake and fried banana. Unfortunately no one was up for it but we'll give it a try next time. We were far less ravenous last night than our usual state.
Anyway, DS gave a thumbs up on this place - wasn't raving or blown away but definitely thought it was good. When I did a search on this board after returning from our dinner last night, I saw several recent postings on Chinese Mirch that were positive but I was unable to identify too many alternative Indo-Chinese fusion restaurants anywhere in Manhattan. I found a couple listed in Gramercy Park (one recently closing - IndoWok) but they seemed few and far between.
Does anyone know of any great Indo-Chinese fusion restaurants on the UWS or anywhere else in Manhattan that are worth a try? I think I can get easily hooked on this at least for the next few months.