My girlfriend and I have been regulars at the New Delhi Palace (74th St, between Roosevelt and 37th Ave in Jackson Heights) for several years. It's been sort of a default place for us to go eat when we're too lazy to think of trying something new. The waiters there are friendly, good airconditioning, acceptable food...
We went last night and were completely knocked sideways by what we ate. The tandoori chicken was unusually juicy, yet with a perfectly executed light char on the outside. All the vegetables were very vivid tasting and had a firm, yet fully cooked texture--I noticed that they were even cut with more care than usual; nice, even bite sized chunks. The sauce that accompanied the chicken curry tasted intensely of chicken! The pan roasted okra had the most flavor I've ever seen coaxed out of that aggressively bland vegetable. The rice was cooked perfectly. Even the bread had tons of unanticipated texture and flavor.
We had ordered all these dishes dozens of times before, but it was like putting on prescription glasses for the first time and seeing what the world really looked like. We couldn't stop ooing and aahing over how good everything tasted.
Of course, we bugged the waiter to tell us who had cooked our meal. Turns out it was the usual chef's night off, and his substitute was man named Aziz (he didn't want to provide us with his last name, but added that his nickname was "Macho Man Randy Savage"). After additional begging, Aziz came out to meet his two new fans.
He's a very gentle and softspoken man with a thick accent, but I think we understood that his usual job at the restaurant was preparing all the sauces. I think he also said that he had worked as a chef on some cruise ship.
We TRIED to find out when Aziz would be cooking again, but he couldn't or wouldn't tell us. I'd hate to get the usual chef in trouble, but Aziz really is a treasure. Should I write a letter to the restaurant praising him? Should I ask my fellow chowhounds to stop by and ask if Aziz is cooking? I'm already getting a little depressed at the thought that I might not have a meal like that there for another 2 years.
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