Checking Back In With Hot Clay Oven (When The Food Isn’t Free)

It’s been a couple of months since Hot Clay Oven started serving its Indian-fusion version of Chipotle in the FiDi. You want a wrap made with naan? Or Indian meats on a salad? Or a fancy version of meat over rice from a cart? They have it all, plus mango lassi and booze. The only time I’ve eaten there was the first day of operation when they were giving out free food and the line was up the block. I wanted to check back in and see what the food was like when I had to pay money for it instead of freeloading.

Since it was pretty late for lunch there was basically no line. I also was happy to see that they put in a counter and chairs all along the front wall since there are only a few tables. Other than that, not much has changed since opening day.

Last time I was there I got the naan wrap with a beef kebab and thought it was good, especially since I saw the naan being made in front of me. This time I decided to get a rice bowl with tandoori chicken since a salad or wrap didn’t appeal to me at all. If you’re a vegetarian (or simply dabble) you might be interested to know that they have added yellow daal in addition to the paneer and channa masala that’s on the menu now.

The rice is of the yellow variety and has some herbs in it. A heap of tandoori chicken was dumped on it and then I chose tomatoes and onions on top of that, along with the mint and coriander and spicy red chutneys. Much like those Mongolian grills where you can dump all kinds of weird combinations and sauces together and hope it tastes OK, I was a little worried when left to my own devices in the sauce department.

I turned out to be pleasantly surprised, not only by the sauces but by the chicken. It looked really dry when it was being scooped on the rice, but was really juicy…or greasy depending on your point of view. All in all my bowl was good, but was it worth $9? I did really like the beef kebab I had on opening day.

I also got a samosa ($1.50) for taste-testing purposes. It was just OK, mostly due to the fact that it was super greasy and the filling of potato and peas was kind of bland. It was just as well because I was already full from the rice bowl.

If you still haven’t checked this place out, Friday might be the day to do it. They’re celebrating Holi (the Indian Festival of Colors) by giving you a free dessert of rasmalai or something called cinna-naan when you buy a meal.

After eating there twice I think the food at Hot Clay Oven is good but I get the feeling it’s targeted toward people who are feeling edgy enough to cross the street from Just Salad and Chipotle every once in a while.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • I like picking what goes into my meal.
  • There are a lot of protein and sauce options to play around with.

THE — (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • It’s kind of expensive.
  • I’d rather just go to an Indian steam table place and guess what’s in my lunch.

Hot Clay Oven, 101 Maiden Lane (at Pearl), (212) 269-2103



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    I ordered delivery from these guys 2 weeks ago and was not impressed at all. It was sloppy faux-indian fast food (with cheese?!) that just was not very tasty.

    This puzzle has already been solved with Kathi rolls. You get an piece of paratha bread, little bit of thin omelet, chicken tika/paneer/etc, some onions, etc, then you roll it up and serve it. Kathi rolls are real indian street food, they’re delicious.

    Hot clay oven was just nasty. I won’t be ordering from them again.

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    Speaking of which, if the Kati roll company, Murali, the tabla frankie cart, etc, set up shop in the FiDi, I would eat there at least once a week. I LOVE kati rolls.

  • I have gotten the salad/rice bowl from them a bunch of times, with pork/tandoori chicken. It’s pretty decent. Haven’t had any of the na’ans/wraps though. Watch out for that spicy red chutney, had it on my salad once and it really burns (and I have a high tolerance for heat), so I stick with the mint & coriander or the tamarind chutney.

  • Wraps, when delivered, arrived soggy and cold.
    Not planning to order again.

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    @rodalpho: You can get kati rolls from two of the carts on Liberty plaza – Biryani House and Bombay Biryany. They both have their pros and cons, but it’s better than nothing!

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