Cuisine Type: Indian vegetarian & vegan friendly
Reservations: Not offered
Number of Tables: 5–10
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Samosas, sweets, chaats, dosas, thali
Delivery / Take-out Available: Takeout only
Outdoor Seating: No
Pro Tip: Popular for authentic $5 hot lunch and dinner platters and over 100 varieties of Indian snacks and desserts
Are there any dishes on the menu you consider to be a hidden gem—not necessarily the most popular, but surprisingly delicious?
There are plenty hidden gems: Sweets & Ice Creams: Cashew-based confections, chocolate-covered treats, fig rolls, almond cookies, pistachio ice cream, and Kulfi sticks. Food: Kathi rolls, stuffed parathas (Indian bread), chole bhature, and pav bhaji.
Do you use any family recipes at your restaurant? Whose family do they belong to (the chef, the owner, or someone else)?
All the recipes that we offer are my family recipes. Some of them were created three decades ago by my uncle and aunt who started the Rajbhog concept in Jackson Heights, NY. Since the time I opened this family franchise in Hicksville in 2001, I have several of my own creations to the menu. I have customized most of the recipes to the local clientele of Long Island.
In your own words, how would you describe your menu?
The menu we offer is 100% vegetarian with plenty of vegan-friendly choices. We cook our food from freshly purchased vegetables from local grocers. People come to us since our food tastes like a wholesome home-cooked meal just the way they used to eat it in the South Asian sub continent. We have over 25 vegan-friendly menu items. Our menu covers all the popular "street food" of India. We also have a diverse array of Indian desserts made with pure ghee (clarified butter) and fresh milk.
Is there anything else you want to add that we didn't cover?
We are a 100% women-run minority business and are very proud of it. Most of my staff has been with me for a long time. We have 40 people seating, have free Wifi and have live TV playing Indian channels. Seating is casual. Ordering is at the counter and pickup is at the counter (like Panera). We are very popular for our catering services and also cater to lot of local banquet halls for weddings and parties. We offer gift baskets, gift boxes for weddings and corporate events. We cater to local non-profit organizations for charity and have been recognized by Ed Mangano. We also sponsor South Asian events at Stony Brook University, Hostra, SUNY Westbury.
The cooks at Masala Wok specialize in flavorful, aromatic Hakka-style cuisine, blending together Indian and Chinese culinary techniques. Pan-fried dry chili chicken, Singapore-style hoisin shrimp, and golden-fried cauliflower dumplings are a few popular menu items. Patrons can order carryout or stay to eat in the casual restaurant.
Kiran Palace bestows traditional Indian tastes upon spice-seeking tongues. The lunch buffet unrolls itself seven days a week to reveal a trove of 25 taste treasures, including meat-laden kebabs, an overstuffed salad bar, and a jewel-box of edible rubies. Alternately, on the dinner menu, boneless chicken takes a swim in spiced yogurt before basking in the heat from the tandoor oven, reemerging as the classic chicken tikka ($10.95) and looking good enough to spark plastic-surgery rumors on gossip sites. Submerged in a simmering curry sauce, the lamb vindaloo ($11.95) scorches taste buds with spice, and myriad biryani iterations ($10.95–$17.95) cosset vegetables, chicken, goat, shrimp, or lamb on a fluffy bed of basmati rice. After either meal, linger at your burgundy-swathed table to sip a mango lassi ($3.95) whose sweet, cold smoothness washes away fiery aftertastes.
Rakesh Aggarwal left India for America in 1980 and his culinary talents soon earned him permanent gigs at New York mainstays such as Club 21 and the Oak Room. It wasn’t until 1994, however, that he set the cornerstone for his very own New York mainstay, though he may not have known it at the time. Baluchi’s, which is reminiscent of Rakesh’s childhood nickname, Balu, became an instant hit both for its Zagat-rated Indian cuisine and its exotic decor. Today, Baluchi’s has expanded to five locations throughout the city and received a fair share of ink from New York magazine and the New York Times, whose writer noted that the potato cakes were “among the best” he had eaten. Baluchi’s in Murray Hill sticks to the traditional Indian fare that has brought this chain such widespread success. The menu alternates nicely between meat and vegetarian options, with options such as minced-lamb kebabs with mango salsa and sweet-potato chaats baked in a tandoor and tossed with spices. The tandoori menus teem with robust options such as racks of lamb and whole fish, as well as curries prepared with seafood, lamb, and vegetables that carry just enough spice and heat to melt the heart of a curmudgeonly businessman.
Baluchi's chefs sweep regional and classic Indian cuisines into a comprehensive menu of hearty meat, seafood, and vegetarian dishes. At the heart of the kitchen, a traditional tandoor oven works overtime to bake entrees, such as a whole red snapper or lamb chops, and fresh naan and paratha breads. Meanwhile, chefs simmer seafood curries in creamy coconut milk and top off feasts with scoops of housemade ice cream flavored with mango or pistachio. Though Baluchi's offers delivery, patrons who appear at the eatery treat their senses to a feast: clusters of colorful baubles cast light on shiny hardwood benches and a bar, backdropped by vibrant paintings.
Diners can’t simply order the Phaal curry at Brick Lane Curry House. Instead, the staff requires patrons to repeat a verbal disclaimer, which absolves the restaurant of any liability for "physical or emotional damage" caused by the curry's 10 intensely incendiary ingredients—including the infamous ghost chili pepper. These fiery components make it the one of the spiciest curries in the world, according to Brick Lane Curry House's claims. Diners who can withstand the heat and finish the entire serving earn a free beer and a certificate commemorating their victory alongside strong-willed diners including Adam Richman, the host of Man vs. Food.
Aside from this challenge, endurance is hardly required to enjoy a meal at Brick Lane. The curry shop takes its name from the London street famous for its Indian and Pakistani cuisine and the chefs forge a variety of British–influenced meals from regions throughout India. Beyond the Phaal, the menu features 10 other curries, which include everything from coconut and coriander to creamy, almond-based gravy and saffron. The chefs may not serve fish ‘n’ chips, but the tandoor-roasted kebabs and slow-cooked lentils represent the lesser-known, internationally inspired side of London comfort food.