By Carol Brock
271-01 Union Turnpike
New Hyde Park
In the pink! You simply can’t miss Indian City, the new Indian restaurant on Union Turnpike. At night, it’s bathed in pink resembling Jaipur, a calm, soothing city in central India where the rich and famous lived and where most of the buildings are pink.
The outside glows but the interior is on the dark mysterious Indian side. There’s a dramatic 13-foot wide, floor-to-ceiling mirror in the rear. For me, the best seat in the house is sitting facing it.
The walls hold copper figures of India’s gods including Ganesh (elephant) and the seated, turban-headed Sai Baba with one foot folded under. Sai Baba is the personal god of Bombay-born, Kumar, the owner.
Indian City’s four chefs, who prepare the restaurant’s vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine, hail from the northern state of Punjab.
When dining in an Indian restaurant, I always start my meal with a yogurt drink, a shake called lassi. One of the most intriguing I have had was here in Indian City. It is topped with a dusting of chopped pistachios and a few drops of exotic-tasting rose water, My dining companion sipped mango juice and sipped a second with dinner. It’s a great chaser for hot spices. Papadum, the crisp, spicy, round lentil wafers which are to Indian food what tortilla chips are to Mexican cuisine, were irresistible. The accompanying trio for dipping (the best I’ve encountered) were: coriander chutney, tamarind sauce and a red onion chutney.
The appetizer special that evening, our waiter announced, was an assortment of hot appetizers which change every night. “Vegetarian or non vegetarian?” our server inquired. We went with meat and fish, and it proved most splitable and delightfully delicious. Samosa were crispy, triangular pastries stuffed with batter-dipped crispy vegetable fritters (ours were cauliflower, a favorite veggie in India). Tiny, thin slices of potato were dipped in batter and fried. There were shrimp. There was chicken—boneless chunks strung on a skewer, then baked in the tandoor clay oven. This was wonderful nibbling.
Soup time. And for me it must be five dal soup, an assorted lentil soup flavored with spices. I cook the small, Indian lentils—yellow, orange and green—in my kitchen. This soup boasted two yellows, an orange, a green and a black, pureed. But unless you are into spices in a big way, I’d say go for the chicken ginger soup.
It was superb. Actually, it was a stew more than a soup. It was loaded with chunks of superb chicken, probably cooked in the tandoor and added to the broth, and spiked with fresh ginger. Chicken coconut soup is another way to go, and there is rasam, a South Indian clear tomato soup. For those intent on getting their five a day, there is a green salad with the house dressing. I know of no other Indian restaurant serving a green salad. Raita, the cooling chopped cucumber in yogurt dressing takes precedent.
Indian breads (baked as they adhere to the sides of the well-like clay oven) are always the tops and beloved by one and all. At Indian City they are more so. Big and puffy, many layered, brushed with melted butter—some filled with potatoes or cottage cheese, some plain, some made with wheat flour.
For entrees we chose a lamb and a chicken dish. I won’t explain any further. They were both stew like but not really exceptional. I would have preferred a tandoori specialty, a grilled sizzler served with grilled onions or a biryani rice dish. Choose one of the Chef’s Choices to the right and you'll be enthusiastic. Our accompanying pilaf with colorful shreds of carrot and whole cloves for added flavor was delightful.
Kulfi, the Indian ice cream, is homemade and comes in two flavors, vanilla and pistachio. Fruity mango pudding was a refreshing alternative. Not just the exterior, but the dining at Indian City is pretty all around.
The Bottom Line
Exterior bathed in pink glow at night. Fine Northern Indian cuisine. Good service. Soft Indian music.
Kati Kabab-veg/chicken (pan-fried tortilla stuffed with assorted vegetables/chicken & spices)..$3.95/$4.25
Garlic Shrimp (medium shrimp sautéed with red wine & garlic)…$5.50
Chicken Ginger Soup …$2.95
Laccha Paratha (multi-layered flaky whole wheat flour bread topped with melted butter)…$2.25
Indian City Nan (nan stuffed with mildly spiced chicken tikka & herbs)…$2.95
Hari Chicken (cubes of chicken with house special spices in a coriander sauce)…$7.95
Malai Kabab (chicken tenders marinated in spices moistened with cream & baked in a clay oven)…$7.95
Crab meat Masala (crabmeat with spices in a tomato-based sauce)…$11.95
Chicken Biryani (saffron-flavored rice cooked with chicken & nuts)…$9.95
Lamb/Goat Pasanda (mild sauce garnished with nuts)…$8.95
Cuisine: Northern Indian
Setting: Bathed in a pink glow at night
Hours: L (buffet) & D 7 days
Location: E of Cross Island Expwy
Credit cards: All major. No Discover.
Private parties: None
Off-premise catering: Yes
Noise level: Low
Music: Hi-Fi, soft Indian
Handicap access: Yes