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lunch at Sajna in Jackson Heights


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lunch at Sajna in Jackson Heights

wrayb | Sep 12, 2002 09:30 PM

I decided to start a new thread/topic because the inital blush of excitment that caused Jim to be so exclamatory has worn off and we are now in for the long haul to see if the Bangladeshis can pull off a fine cuisine restaurant in Jackson Heights or this will just be a period of excellent buffet that will be remembered when.

The link below is to the most recent addition to the first series of messages, where Eric Eto describes a meal on Wed, the 11th of Sept with less than enthusiasm.

But I have to say my meal today was just as good as my previous ones. The potato dish, which Jim refers to with good reason, as home fries, were served today. Very good. I can see why he was so enthusiastic. The mystery red chicken was served today and just as good as before. Today the meat inside had a definite purplish color to it so I did begin to wonder if there was some wine in the marinade (so unlikely because of culture/religion but it just looked like red wine today). I asked about this dish and they said that it is cooked with vinegar. My gambit to discuss the dishes was to ask if this chicken dish and the potato dish were on the regular menu. No for the potato dish. The chicken dish is listed as roasted chicken cooked in mild yoghurt sauce. I was told this after there was some discussion between two of the servers, so I would say this is likely but not guaranteed.

Eric spoke of having to work on his fish dishes to get any flesh. I am not sure if they are the same, but if what I would think he was calling silver fish were the "little fish" (i.e. flat fish about twice as big as a sardine) from last week, then I ate them bone and all. I had thought about but failed to comment on how interesting it was to me that the bones were tender enought to eat but the fish flesh was a bit firmer than canned sardines etc.

Today there was a fish dish of mostly cauliflower and a little potato. The fish was a medium size fish which seems to have been lightly fried cut into portion size pieces and finished cooking simmering along with the vegetables. It was bone-in but plenty of meat which was fairly easy to separate from the bones.

Final favorite (the fish was good but not necessarily a highlight of the meal) was the spinach dish. I am really beginning to wonder if it is spinach or some other similar green. Next time I will ask. This is not the pureed item so often served in Indo/Pak restaurants but a vegetable slightly chopped that still has just a bit of crunch along with a couple or more types of chilli pepper, a little onion and some aromatics (a bit of cinnamon & ?).

So the winners today were the vinegar roast chicken, the "Bengali home fries," and the greens (spinach?). Plus they continue to have an excellent version of raita with lots of finely sliced veggies.

I was there about 1:40 - 2:15 and business was pretty slow. Therefore I am cautiously reporting that service continues to be OK to pretty good. They are even getting it together enough to do a little upselling by asking if I would like nan or anything else. It was decent, their standard menu price of $1.99 for one buttered nan. But I was tempted to leave it mostly uneaten and go back for a 3rd plate of vinegar roasted chicken, spinach and home fries. But I didn't. There is always tomorrow, at least for a little while. So with tea, nan, tax and tip ($2) I was out $11 and some change.

Oh, one interesting thing to report. A young (probably Bangladeshi) couple with a child in a stroller was eating next to me. The lady had wanted lamb, I think they got sag gosht, and so they did not eat off the buffet. They were very complimentary about the food in discussion between themselves and in several comments to the staff. Then at the end the lady complained loudly when she saw that the dish was 16.95, $17 dollars, about twice what she would expect to pay at other places in Jackson Heights. Her husband said little and quietly payed but for several minutes the air of the restaurant was filled with her voice, "Bangla, Bangla, Bangla, too much is $17! Bangla, Bangla, Bangla, Bangla, twice the amount! Bangla, Bangla, Bangla, Bangla, I cannot believe. Bangla, Bangla, Bangla, Bangla, but $17, 16.95! for gosht! Bangla, Bangla, Bangla, Thank you, good bye, see you again."

Sorry, obviously I do not speak or understand Bengali or whatever language she was speaking. But I think the general meaning is communicated even without hearing her tone. I mention it since it does show that even when people seem very satified with the food, how reluctant they are to pay more than they do for the significantly lower quality food at nearby competitors. But as I report, it seems she plans to return. Perhaps to try the buffet the next time.



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