There was a lot of buzz about a charming new Indian restaurant Babu Ji in the East Village and I knew we had to check it out. After scoping out their website we considered booking a table online, but you can only do this to sample the tasting menu. Unfortunately not every dish offered is GF, so we walked in early and hopeful.
We arrived around 7 (which in NY is quite early for dinner) on a weekday, hoping this would help our chances of getting straight in. It was a cold night and the host offered us the only available table straight away – a small table right beside the front door that we were advised can get quite chilly, or we could leave our name and number and they would give us a shout when they had another table available. With the estimate of only an hours wait, we headed to the closest bar – which the Babu Ji host gave us a discount card for. Not bad, not bad.
Two hours and a few drinks later, we still hadn’t received a text summoning us back to the restaurant. We decided to make our way there just to check how much longer it would be. There was now a line of shivering people in front of the restaurant – not the best sign. The host, who was really nice, told us that it would still be another 45 minutes unless we wanted that small table beside the door which had just been made available again. Starving, I opted for the cold table instead of the cold street.
To my delight the menu offered quite a few GF labelled options. As a starter we shared the Batata Vada- mustard seed and curry leaf potato encased in a chickpea flour pastry topped with fresh radish, coriander and pineapple chutneys, with broken chickpea noodles. I was expecting a pastry type dumpling to come out but its consistency was more like a meatball. Not only was it beautifully presented, it just exploded with flavour. I could’ve grabbed a straw and drank the left over sauce. Yes it was that good!
We shared the Tandoori chicken and prawn coconut curry as our mains. The charred tandoori chicken was marinated in ground spices and yogurt with a sprinkling of greens on top. This was some of the best chicken I have ever had. The mix of flavours and spices was brilliant. It was my favorite dish of the night. I almost ordered another serving.
The prawns were served in a beautiful silver pot with a side of rice and came in a turmeric, mustard seed and coconut milk based curry. Although few, the prawns were huge. Just like the previous dishes, this did not disappoint. The curry was smooth and had a nice tangy-ness to it.
I will definitely be heading back and highly recommend dining here. If you do go on a cooler night, I suggest waiting for a table that isn’t near the door. Our waitress was kind enough to bring us some sweet chai tea to try to warm us up but we couldn’t last long, the cold draft was too much – we spent the night sitting and eating in our big winter coats. The restaurant gets extremely loud when it is busy, so be prepared to have to shout above the noise for your friends to hear you. The food at Babu Ji is definitely worth the wait, it’s probably the best Indian food I have ever had – not that I have sampled an abundance of Indian cuisine – but this was on another level.
- GF menu
- Website – Babu Ji
- Location – 175 Avenue B, New York.