Sunday, July 12, 2009

i blame anthony bourdain

Last night, before going to bed, I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations where the gastronomic adventurist was eating all sorts of fabulous curries in Sri Lanka. By the time I hit the off button on my DVR, I had a mad craving for curry. It was insufferable. I ended up lying in bed Yelping "Indian buffet" places within a 1-mile radius of my apartment. It was 3am by then so I had to content myself with the idea of stuffing myself for lunch the next day. But before I went to bed, I decided I would visit Dhaba. I live on the fringe of Murray Hill, which has come to be known to Manhattanites as Curry Hill for the profusion of Indian restos. Dhaba is one of them. How did I settle on Dhaba?

It wasn't just because one of the Yelp reviewers said that while she was chomping on naan there one night in June, Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin walked in (they had another person with them so they weren't technically on a date, if you must know!). But yes, the idea that I might use the same silverware as Pattinson was a bit of a motivating factor. The main reason I picked Dhaba was because the first few restaurants that came up on Yelp were vegetarian, and I'm a strict carnivore.

But anyway, today I walked over to Dhaba at 12 noon, got a table for 1, descended on the buffet, and came back with this:

I concentrated mainly on the chicken tikka masala, as you can see, some bhuna lamb mirchwala and chicken biryani. I liked how they served all sorts of bread: naan, poori and batura. I've never tried anything other than naan before so that was pretty cool. They also serve you some freshly cooked chicken tandoori tableside, but I missed out on that because I was done eating by the time they came around to my table. No worries, I didn't have space anyway. This little indulgence put me over the edge:

It was my first time to ever try tawe ka gulab jamun, fried milk balls swimming in cardamom flavored sugar syrup. So deliciously decadent that I had to take every last bite, even if it felt like my stomach was going to burst. I also had a bit of Punjabi kheer, cardamom flavored rice pudding punctuated with raisins and slivers of almonds and pistachio. The pudding tempered the very sweet milk balls quite nicely. Definitely a wonderful way to cap off a meal.

The price for the buffet was $12.95, which is expensive to me as I know that there plenty of good Indian buffets in the city for just $7 or $8. But I enjoyed the meal anyway, so it was no big deal. I satisfied a craving so intense that had Pattinson walked in, I might not have managed to tear myself away from the chicken tikka masala long enough to ask for a picture. Or so I like to think.

Dhaba is located at 108 Lexington Avenue, between 27th and 28th Streets.

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