Babu Ji

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Now that Winter has actually kicked in, in NYC, you probably crave comfort food. And, if you’re like me, you want comfort food that’s hot and spicy too, because, extra warmth. I love Indian food, which pretty much checks these marks for me, so, I was off to Babu Ji in Alphabet City.

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A mix of modern elegance meets local deli kind of sums up the aesthetic of this contemporary Indian restaurant. You’ll find striking, large print photographs framed on the wall, along with a projecting Indian movie, and, a stuffed peacock on top of a self-serve beverage refrigerator. But once your food starts coming out, you won’t even be paying attention to what’s around you, and only what’s in front of you. Not only are the dishes all visually captivating, they’re insanely delicious. And, the entire staff here was so amazing, attentive, courteous, and, if you’re a crazy food-picture-taker like myself, you’re in luck, because one of our servers asked a few times if I’d like him to provide some additional light from his phone. What a gem! Ok, food, let’s get into it. Get some Naan. It’s warm, soft and pillowy, but still has a nice chew to it. The flavors are delicate, but give the dough a little pizzaz.

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All of the appetizers sounded amazing, so, I started with a couple to share. First was Papadi Chaat (chickpea, cucumber, pomegranate, tamarind, mint and yogurt chutney). They describe it as the motherland’s version of nachos and salsa, a must try. And, they’re 100% right, this dish was unbelievable. First off, it’s stunning to look at, but each ingredient is so fresh and dynamic, and you can really taste all of the flavors individually, while going so wonderfully all together. Texture wise, you really have everything here, you’ve got crunch from the slaw and the chips, creaminess from the chutney, and all of the other elements in between. It was really fantastic, and you must order it.

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Ok, so, before I even start about the second appetizer, I need to take a breath. Ok, breath taken. This was possibly one of the best things I’ve eaten in a while, and definitely my favorite thing from my meal here. I had their Colonel Tso’s Cauliflower (Indo-Chinese style cauliflower in a tomato chili sauce, sesame and onion seed, chives). So, they killed it in the immitation department, replicating General Tso’s Chicken from the outside. But, take a bite and this vegan dish made out of cauliflower tastes crazily similar. Everything about this dish was pure perfection, from the sweet, tangy, and spicy sauce, to the airy and crisp breading around the tender and flavorful cauliflower. I wish I could go on forever about this, but, my fingers will get too tired from typing. So, let’s meet up for a plate of Colonel Tso’s Cauliflower and I’ll talk your ear off about it.

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For my main, I ordered Baingan Bartha (Spiced and fire roasted eggplant curry with green peas). Again, presentation on point. And flavor wise, excellent. The eggplant is pureed into a consistency in between a spread and a paste, making it very substantial. There’s a really nice kick of heat, and the freshness of the peas and shaved veggies on top help to cool your mouth a little bit and add a nice textural component.

The Shorts:
Name: Babu Ji
Location: 175 Avenue B, NYC
The Shorts: Would I go back? Let me think about it…YES! Did you not read my obsessive fan-girl review of that cauliflower?
Would I recommend it? 100%. In fact, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t go. I can’t even think of one complaint. The staff is incredible, the food is outstanding, what else could you ask for?

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Superiority Burger

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Hype. I never believe it until I experience it. I’ve been reading a lot about the new, quick-serve, vegetarian spot, Superiority Burger in the East Village. And, being predominantly veggie myself, I knew I had to check it out.

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So, they’re only open from 6pm-10pm, and closed on Tuesdays, so plan accordingly. But, you’re definitely going to want to make it over. The staff is really nice and welcoming, and the menu is really easy to navigate through, only offering a handful or two of options. The portions aren’t very large, which is great, since it allows you to try different things. And, everything is affordably priced, so, even more of a reason for you to try lots of things.

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First, I had their Burnt Broccoli Salad (eggplant, red chile, coriander vinaigrette). Holy hell, this was great. I really love broccoli, and it’s one of those vegetables that’s really easy to screw up. These were cooked perfectly, leaving them with a bit of crunch and char on the florets. Then you get a kick from the red chile. My favorite surprises were the chopped cashews, and then, at the bottom of the dish, there was this amazingly flavorful eggplant puree, similar to baba ganoush. 

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Next I had a special menu item that night. Since the daily specials are written on a paper posted to the wall, I completely forgot to take note of exactly what was in this, but, it was a potato side dish with olive oil and white wine, in some capacity. Whatever the exact composition was, it was super delicious, and I may or may not have wanted to bathe in the oils. The seasoning was on point and the potatoes were just the right balance of firm and tender, no mushy spuds here. 

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And then, of course, I had to get their namesake menu item, the Superiority Burger (muenster cheese, iceberg, tomato, dill pickle). I’ve had a couple veggie burgers in my day that I’ll never forget. Say what you want, call me a weirdo, but, they were amazing enough to remember. And, I’ve had some that were pure garbage. Don’t worry, this wasn’t one of them. This little guy was small but mighty. You can dress a burger, of any variety, up however you want, but it all goes back to the burger itself. The flavor here was really great, and I especially liked the texture. Some veggie burgers are only slightly softer versions of a hockey puck, and some are so mealy that they just crumble and fall apart. This one was the Goldilocks version, it was just right. So, yeah, the hype was real. 

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Finally, dessert. They offer gelato and sorbet grab bag, so, you gotta be up for whatever. I was. I got a cup with a scoop of Blueberry and a scoop of Labane (topped with toasted coconut). So, so good, and really went well together. The blueberry tasted just like a scoop of frozen, creamy, blueberry pie filling. And the labane, similar to the taste of greek yogurt, was just the tiniest bit tart, but instantly sweetened with the toasted coconut.

The Shorts:
Name: Superiority Burger
Location: 430 East 9th Street, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? For sure. I had a great experience there, and with new items popping up all the time, I’ve got my work cut out for me.
Would I recommend it? Definitely. It’s mainly best to take food out, but there are little bench seats inside. It’s first come first serve (I was a lucky one who snagged up some prime real estate), so the timing has to be right, but, if not, the food will taste the same, I promise.