Minar Indian Restaurant
The complaints against eating in Midtown are many… but the one thing you can’t complain about is a lack of good Indian food. There are tons of Indian places for every appetite and price range. Expensive sit down restaurants, expensive buffets, cheap buffets, cheap take out, and even an Indian food cart. When you look at the cheap options, it seems as if there is one for every neighborhood. If you work on Park in the 50s, there’s the super cheap Indian food cart on 53rd. If you work on the East side of Midtown in the 40s, there’s Hurry & Tasty Curry. If you work on the west side there’s Minar.
Everyone who reads this blog knows how much I love Kati Roll (the “Indian Burrito” place)… but sometimes you just want the real thing. And when that urge hits, Minar is right next store to feed my Indian food fix. The one thing I’ve realized about these Indian food places is, you get what you pay for. You pay $4 for Indian food out of a cart, it’s going to taste like $4 Indian food (it’s good, but not the best). Minar costs a little more then that, and it’s a little better. Not as good as a nice Indian restaurant where you are going to pay $10+ an entree, but if you are looking for some quick and tasty Indian food for lunch- and you work in this area of Midtown, you can’t do better then Minar.
What I got, pictures of the food, and the +/- after the jump…
Minar is set up like one of those typical Chinese steam plate places. You can point to what you want behind the glass, or you can order ala carte off the menu. There are a few different combo choices, and daily specials to choose from. The Everyday Special combo is pretty straightforward. Two meats and one vegetable or Two vegetables and one meat for $7.25. It comes with bread or rice (naan or chapti), raita (the white yogurt sauce) and a “salad”, which is really just a little bit of lettuce and a few onions on a small white paper plate.
One of the best parts of Minar is it specializes in Northern and Southern Indian cuisine, so if you are a vegetarian, or just not a big fan of meat, there are a ton of vegetable options (and dosas). The day we were there, you could get saag paneer (spinch with cheese), dal (lentils), a potato dish, and few others I didn’t ask about. They have a vegetable combo that was cheaper then the Everyday Combo (I think it was $6.25, but I can’t be positive) where you get your choice of 3 vegetable dishes served with the same rice or bread, plus raita and “salad”. They also have dosas (with over 10 different fillings), which I didn’t try- but looked pretty amazing (and gigantic.)
For meats they had the standard chicken tikka masala, a lamb dish, and a goat curry plus the daily special. On Monday the special was Chicken Dopiaza (which literally means chicken with double onions) and it looked delicious. They also had an eggplant dish (Alu Baigan). Everyday the specials change, and are always a good bet. I went with the Everyday combo, because I wanted to try as many things as possible, but there are much cheaper ways to go that will still fill you up.
Even though the special chicken that day looked amazing, I went with the Chicken Tikka Masala (for sake of comparison with other places), the Lamb curry, and the Saag Paneer…. all pretty standard dishes. The chicken was good enough, the lamb itself was great- but the curry it was in was too watery, and the saag was better then a lot of cheap places I have been to in Midtown- but still a tiny bit on the watery side. The nice chunks of paneer (Indian cheese) definitely helped to elevate it above the fray. The only thing missing was the heat. No spiciness at all… a positive for some, a negative for others…
The biggest negative though is the bread OR rice thing. This was definitely a problem, and conflicts directly with this diet I’ve been on for years called the anti-atkins (anti-south beach diet if you prefer). Every meal must contain multiple sources of carbohydrates. Sample ordering: “I’ll have some bread with my bread” if you will. In this case- bread AND rice, so my chosen “lifestyle” forced me to pay an extra $1 for a piece of naan, which was very large and a good value… but brought the total price of the meal up to $8.25. For an extra few bucks, I could have gotten all you can eat at Rangole a few blocks away. But going to a buffet brings up a whole host of other eating issues for me… (god I love buffets).
All in all Minar is pretty much a can’t miss. If you work in the area, it is the best place to go for cheap and quick Indian food… and is always packed during lunch hours. They have a decent size seating area- but depending on the time you might have to take it to go, or share a table with a stranger.
- Reasonably cheap, and super quick Indian food
- Always filled with Indian people… that’s always a good sign, right?
- They have daily specials
- A lot of vegetarian options
- They have dosas
- The piece of naan they give you for a buck, is pretty big
- Not very spicy (only a positive for some people, obviously)
- Bread OR Rice with the combos… so you have to pay an extra $1 if you want naan
- Always crowded, and can be a little intimidating the first time you go
- Like most cheap Indian places, some of the dishes are a little watery (but in the end, you get what you pay for- i.e. it’s cheap, so stop complaining!)
- Not very spicy (see the +)
- Depending on the day you may be forced to take it to go or share a table with strangers
Minar, 138 W. 46th St. (btw. 6+7th), 212-398-4600