Downtown Lunch: Don't Ask Questions at Taste of Tandoor!
Midtown workers shouldn’t have all the fun, so to even the score, I’ve brought on Daniel Krieger as an official Downtown Lunch Correspondent to write up some of the tasty stuff you can get in the lower half of Manhattan. He’s a great photographer (ensuring good food porn), but more importantly he is a lover of cheap, unique and delicious eats (or as I like to call it- Midtown Lunch’ish food.) If everybody else on the site is given the opportunity to vent, I figure Daniel is entitled too. Here’s a little story of what happened to our Downtown Lunch reporter when he bypassed his goto Pakistani lunch spot, in favor of a cheaper option down the street.
Who doesn’t get the craving for Indian food every once in awhile? Spicy, flavorful lamb mixed with vegetables I never knew existed before moving to NYC. And of course the Naan… one of my greatest third-wordly pleasures is a fresh piping piece of naan peeled off the inside of a red hot tandoor.
A few nights ago I decided to save myself a buck and eat at Taste of Tandoor on Church street, walking past my normal go-to, Pakistani Tea House. The food is similar, good cheap steam table Pakistani/Indian food. Neither place gives you what you can get in Jackson Heights, but it works.
Then things went all wrong…
When I walked in I saw two very similar looking dishes sitting next to each other. One was Chicken Curry and one was Spicy Chicken Curry. Chicken Curry should already have somewhat of a kick so I was curious how hot the “spicy” version would be. Could the lips of a white jew from Connecticut raised on bagels and cream cheese withstand it?
“What’s the difference between the two” I said, realizing it sounded kinda dumb, but maybe there were other ingredients or vegetables between them. Perhaps one had potato in it? How the hell do you know unless you ask!?
“One is spicy one is not!” yelled what looked like the manager, perhaps owner of the place. “What do you think, I mean it says it right there” as he pointed to the sign which did in fact indicate which was which. I was taken aback. I said in an inquisitive and semi-defensive tone “welllllll what if I’ve never had Indian food before?” thinking he was gonna lighten the tone. Perhaps he was just having a bit of fun with me before?
“Then you can leave” he said, and turned away from me. I walked out and called him an asshole through the window.
Still craving Indian food (takes more than being kicked out of a restaurant to squelch that), I immediately went a block up to Pakistani Tea House.. which was buzzing with customers (Taste of Tandoor had maybe two somewhat grim looking people eating dinner there). As soon as I walked in I wanted to test the waters.. so I asked again “Whats the difference between these two chickens?” giggling a bit in my head realizing if this was a movie people would be laughing at this part (hopefully). The woman smiled and told me that one was Jalfrazie and the spicy one was called Karahi.
Without hesitation, or prompting from me, she finished her sentence with, “would you like to taste it to see if it’s too hot?” and I did! And it wasn’t too hot! It tasted great! I ordered it, thanked her, and told her that I much prefer PTH to Taste of Tandoor down the block. She smiled and said “We make our food fresh 4 times a day.” Was that an indication that Taste of Tandoor doesn’t? Who cares… either way I’m never going back to Taste of Tandoodie. It’s PTH forever. I might gets me a tatooo of their naan on my arm..
Taste of Tandoor, 149 Church St. (btw. Warren+Chambers), 212-619-1200
Paki Tea House, 176 Church St. (btw. Duane+Reade), 212-240-9800
Photos and post by Daniel Krieger