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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by CHLOE.

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Vegan food. People either cringe at the thought, or, they love it because they feel like they’re eating healthy (Debbie Downer moment, but, just eating “vegan” doesn’t mean it’s healthy, you need to watch out for “fake” ingredients. Just because it’s free of dairy, meat, and animal byproducts, doesn’t mean it’s not full of ingredients that you can’t pronounce and has lots of chemical additives. Ok, sorry, PSA over now). Anyway, I’m not vegan, but I do primarily have a veggie diet, so, I’m always game to check out a new vegan restaurant, especially one gaining lots of popularity for their veggie burger. So, I had to check out by CHLOE. in Greenwich Village. 

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First off, the branding and look of this place is super cool. Good job, guys. It’s basically quick-serve, with first-come-first-serve seating, which means, good luck finding a seat during peak hours. They also have a small outdoor patio, which is lovely, but, seats there get scooped up very quickly too. If you go at a busier time (early evening was jumping when I went), I recommend ordering your food to-go, that way, if something opens up, take a seat. If not, you end up like me and my dining buddy and sit on the stoop next to the restaurant. Which, luckily, has no affect on the taste of the food. It also helped me to avoid looking like one of the girls inside the restaurant waiting for a table (ie, awkwardly hovering over other diners holding her tray of food…I wonder if her arms gave out at any point, since, she was probably waiting for a while). I ordered The Guac Burger and a side of Air Baked Sweet Potato French Fries.

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Let’s start with the Air Baked Sweet Potato French Fries (you actually get a choice of original or sweet potato). What I loved was the fact that they weren’t full of grease, and you really tasted the sweet potato. What I didn’t love, was, because they’re air baked, and not fried, you don’t get that nice crunch on the outside, and they kind of stay limp if you don’t eat them right away. But, what completely saves the entire situation is this miracle known as Beet Ketchup. Sweet baby Jesus, it’s amazing. So, here’s the thing though, if I tried this with a blind fold, and wasn’t told what it was, I would have said it was pureed onion ring sauce. I know that sounds strange, but it tastes like a sauce made out of onion rings. As confusing as that might be, it’s delicious. Don’t ask questions or overthink it, just dunk your fries in it, bathe in it, and be happy. 

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Then, there’s the The Guac Burger (black bean-quinoa-sweet potato patty, corn salsa, onion, guac, tortilla strips, chipotle aioli, whole grain bun). Again, I’ve had my fair share of veggie burgers, so, I can be sort of a tough one. However, this was a great veggie burger, and I really enjoyed it. I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of the patties that are firmer and, no offense, rubbery in texture (I prefer a softer, cakier (not a word) consistency), but this patty had excellent flavor, and was accompanied by such wonderful ingredients and toppings, that it really was delicious. The bun was something that I especially enjoyed. A lot of times, quick-serve places that serve a veggie burger will just slap on a store bought, soft bun. I’m not a complete food snob, so, I generally have no problem with that. But, it makes the biggest difference when you have a hearty, delicious bun to hold in all the ingredients. The level of complexity that’s actually in this burger is really impressive, in terms of flavors and textures, which, I really appreciated and loved. And, if you’re ready to make the best decision of your day with this burger, add the Beet Ketchup to it. Game over. 

The Shorts:
Name: by CHLOE.
Location: 185 Bleecker Street, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? For sure. I really enjoyed this veggie burger, especially that sauce, holy shit. And for quality, fresh food, it’s really affordably priced too. 
Would I recommend it? Yes, vegans and non vegans can really enjoy the food. They also make their sweets in house, daily, so, I’d like to check those out next time I go.