Not one of the second-generation locations go fairly as exhausting as Babu Ji. However there’s Hindi hip-hop at Badshah, in Hell’s Kitchen, together with a spray-painted mural of tigers and skyscrapers by Carl Joseph Gabriel, and drinks served in canning jars. At Rahi, in Greenwich Village, surreal and cartoonlike figures by the street-art duo Yok and Sheryo crawl alongside the partitions, and there’s extra high-energy work within the again from a New Delhi gallery of rising Indian artists. Flowers and sprouts are rampant.
Over in Chelsea, aRoqa is probably the most cosmopolitan of the bunch, with moody cocktail-bar lighting and a swooping ceiling of bent picket slats. The chef, Gaurav Anand, lightens the temper by serving rice-and-corn desserts within the baggage compartment of a tiny provider tricycle. Dry ice makes an look, as do squeezable syringes, for injecting numerous chutneys into molded drums of paneer. Evidently, there will likely be flowers.
Previous Monk, which took over Babu Ji’s unique house within the East Village, is adorned with a distinct set of photographic portraits of males. This time they’re monks from round Asia; one is taking an image and one other is holding a smartphone to his ear. The beer fridge is gone, however there’s a lengthy beer listing, drawn from the extra mainstream wing of the craft-brewing motion, like Fats Tire, Flying Canine, and so on. (The wine listing takes extra probabilities.)
One in every of Babu Ji’s extra intelligent improvements is providing a $62 fixed-price bundle of dishes as a tasting menu. It’s not a real tasting menu within the type of, say, Blanca, however the time period has cachet with trendy diners, who find yourself trusting the kitchen to decide on what seems to be a well-rounded, conventional family-style meal.
Previous Monk has saved this concept, in a $55, four-course dinner referred to as You’re in Good Fingers. I didn’t attempt it, as a result of my head was turned by the remainder of Navjut Arora’s menu: superb pork-stuffed Tibetan momos with a ferocious garlic-chile sambal; tandoori lamb chops marinated in rum and ginger; a slow-cooked dal of blended lentils that’s impressed by Sikh temple cooking and could be very scrumptious.
Badshah’s chef, Charles Mani, used to prepare dinner at Babu Ji, and even claims to have provide you with its Basic Tso’s Cauliflower, a spin on the traditional Chinese language-Indian fried cauliflower in chile sauce. In his new job, he calls it Badshah Cauliflower. I’ve eaten only one fast dinner at Badshah up to now, and whereas I used to be content material with the Kashmiri-style goat curry, I used to be much less thrilled by the refrigerator-cold sauces spooned over scorching potato croquettes.
Essentially the most thrilling meals on this group, I feel, belongs to Rahi. Chintan Pandya, the chef, skilled underneath cooks from the Oberoi hotel group, and involves Rahi from Junoon, the place he was govt chef. The cooking isn’t as constant from night time to nighttime accurately, and Mr. Pandya can generally comply with his inventive impulses proper over the cliff; my preliminary skepticism about tandoori lamb chops smeared with wasabi didn’t soften away once I tasted it.
Extra typically, the flavors are vivid and sudden. With a chaat of fried artichoke hearts and edamame in a fruity and bitter sauce of tamarind and pomegranate molasses, Mr. Pandya confirmed that he might infuse non-Indian substances with flavors which can be very true to Indian cooking. There’s a charming appetizer of dark-meat rooster in a basil-chile sauce referred to as Tulsi Hen, and an inexplicably good snack of Melba toasts underneath chopped shishito peppers blended with melted Amul cheese, a processed and extremely shelf-stable product that’s in all places in India. And I’m barely in awe of his tandoori skate, a pristine hunk of fish cooked so it simply slides off its cartilage and coated with a yogurt sauce so rife with cinnamon and cloves that it tastes like A.1. Sauce that some gifted prepare dinner had improved virtually past recognition.
Over the weekend, I went to a brand new place that in some respects suits proper in. The Bombay Bread Bar is a fast conversion of Floyd Cardoz’s SoHo restaurant Paowalla. I don’t have the nerve to name it a Child Ji, although. Mr. Cardoz virtually invented enjoyable, informal, cheap Indian eating years in the past on the previous Bread Bar, under Tabla, and he brings a few of his previous tips to his new place.
However I can’t assist noticing that the menu is less complicated to scan; that the cooking, pretty much as good as ever, has moved towards small, colourful plates; that the costs stand firmly within the center floor; and that the drab, businesslike design of Paowalla has been engulfed by paper marigolds, fruit-patterned oilcloths and a mural painted in comics type by the Pakistani-raised Canadian artist Maria Qamar. I’m not fairly positive what it depicts, but it surely appears like a pair of Bollywood actors.
aRoqa 206 Ninth Avenue (West 23rd Road), Chelsea; 646-678-5471; aroqanyc.com.
Babu Ji 22 East 13th Road (College Place), Greenwich Village; 212-951-1082; babujinyc.com.
Badshah 788 Ninth Avenue (West 52nd Road), Hell’s Kitchen; 646-649-2407; badshahny.com.
The Bombay Bread Bar 195 Spring Road (Sullivan Road), SoHo; 212-235-1098; thebombaybreadbar.com.
Previous Monk 175 Avenue B (East 11th Road), East Village; 646-559-2922; oldmonknyc.com.
Rahi 60 Greenwich Avenue (Seventh Avenue), Greenwich Village; 212-373-8900; rahinyc.com.