No. 51: Bombay
At first glance, there’s little to distinguish this shopping-plaza storefront from scores of Indian curry shops and restaurants. Small and brightly lit, its main decorative motif is an array of Indian watercolors. The cast of characters is familiar, too: large families, cab drivers, young sari-swathed women. But bite into one of the flaky samosas or malai kofta, vegetable balls dunked in a velvety sauce of almonds and cream, and you realize this is no ordinary address.
Before moving to the area, chef Anthony Binod Gomez, who hails from Calcutta, owned an Indian restaurant in Queens, home to New York’s top Indian eateries; the fiercely competitive environment forced him to hone his repertoire. His dishes may sound familiar, but they don’t taste it. The curries are unusually layered and complex, with subtle, spicy depths and an almost rustic quality to the gravies, which teem with whole mustard seeds, curry leaves, chilies, and cardamom pods. Biryani, an Indian fried rice, is full of fluffy, distinct grains—and is virtually greaseless. And chicken tikka masala, also known as Butter Chicken, shimmers with a pronounced, tomatoey tang.
Befriending the waitstaff is worth a try—service can be standoffish. The pace in the kitchen is harder to influence. The solution? Order a round of those samosas or, a relative rarity, deep-fried cheese pakoras stuffed with mint and partnered with a vivid cilantro-mint dipping sauce, and nibble on them until the fabulous curries arrive.