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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Dimes

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Dimes isn’t new, they opened up in 2013, but they recently moved into a bigger space, which has been getting them a lot of attention. Probably because now, more people can join in the restaurant to get their healthy, yet still delicious fix. So, I was off to scope out the new digs at their Chinatown location.

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Ok, so, remember how I said they were expanding into a bigger space? Well, it’s still pretty cozy, but, this is New York, so, we’re all pretty used to smaller spaces. However, the amount of appeal from their menu is huge. I wanted to order about half of all the items on the menu, but I zoned in on a dish for my main. I ordered the Striped Bass (green curry, salmon roe, baby corn, patty pan squash). So. This was incredible. The only negative thing I can say about this dish, was that there wasn’t three times the amount of it for me to eat. It was so incredibly delicious, as well as beautifully plated. The vibrancy of colors immediately lures you in, and then the flavors win you over. The fish has a light and crisp skin, and underneath it’s perfectly tender and flaky. The green curry sauce was killer, it had a kick of heat, and if I could order a bowl of that as soup, it’d eat it all the time in the winter to keep me warm. All the other components went so well together, the crispness of the corn, the soft and tender squash, and the saltiness from the roe. Well done, dish, well done.

The Shorts:
Name: Dimes
Location: 49 Canal Street, NYC
The Long and Short: Would I go back? For sure. Service is great and the food is divine.
Would I recommend it? Definitely. I’m excited to get back to try so, so many more things.