Jun 29, 2005

Lassi in the Village

Yesterday was another good day - ran an errand in Greenwich Village (GreenVil) and ended up next to a shoebox-sized place called Lassi that I hadn't seen before. It was only when I read the article in the window, that I realized that it had replaced Thali, a favorite little place that I'd never actually visited (but recommended to folks nonetheless).

Ends up that Lassi is the latest in a hot trend of small, quaint Indian joints that specialize (read: appropriate, exoticize, etc.) in specific Indian delicacies. I wouldn't put it in the same category as the beloved NY Dosa Cart, though. This little spot is the creation of a pastry chef, Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez, who has been taken by the cuisine of Northern India, or perhaps the allure of the dollars that could come from selling her creations to white liberal gastrotourists looking for "fresher, cleaner" Indian food.

The namesake refreshing drink is offered in new flavors, from traditional sweet/salty/mango to cardamom/coconut/coffee/cinnamon (all 'c' words. how fascinating). I ordered a coffee lassi - small, in the interest of trying something new and staying mildly within budget, though the $3.50 price tag seemed a bit excessive. When it was delivered with a smile, I almost gagged: the diminutive beverage was all of 4 ounces tall, dwarfed in its sad plastic cup by the straw that rose awkwardly above it.

Simultaneously, a white patron leaned conspiratorially towards the counter and stated earnestly "this is fantastic. This is my favorite Indian place in the city." I restrained myself from laughing out loud, half-sipped my micro-drink and waited for my aloo paratha. The paratha, priced at $3.95, was quite doughy and unremarkable for the price. I was dissatisfied enough with this experience to want to visit Queens today, just to make up for this sad slippage into the hip(age).

Guess there's another 'C' word that we can attach to this place. It rhymes with Asian, and it sure ain't Amazin'.

For future reference, if you are downtown, and looking for a good lassi, take thee to the Himalayan Cafe, a slightly larger shoebox of a space off the corner of 1st St. and 1st Ave. The lassis, which come in traditional and one new flavor (banana), are great, $2.50, and come in a pint glass.

7 comments:

someone else said...

The idea of a coffee lassi seems an abomination against humanity to me.

Rage said...

Tell me about it. Next week, they are debuting a Chai Tea Latte Lassi - Light.

DesiDancer said...

ew, blech!! Thanks for doing me a favor-- someone just raved about this place to me, and I almost checked it out. Thanks for saving me about $10 and a cab ride. I'll take you to Rajbhog for some chaat as thanks.

someone else said...

Does Rajbhog have good chaat? I'm looking for an alternative to Dimple on political grounds.

Rage said...

saurav: definitely, hands down raghbog rocks. consistent, gujarati, cheap, and good. get a kaasta kachori chaat (gujju/bombay special) and just enjoy. they even have $3 dosa (not that great, but still - $3!).

There are other places too - Maharaja in JH, there are some pseudo-chaat stalls (indoors) in at least Edison and Jersey City, and I think that Sukhadhia in Manhattan has an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for $9.99 but I haven't tried it out yet (but Lulu has).

desidancer said...

Rajbhog is unquestionably the best chaat around the city. Better than Dimple, I think. Beats most places in Edison (and i'm in Qns, so why drive to jersey if I don't have to...) For dosa I'm partial to Dosa hut or Pongal. Rajbhog doesn't quite have the dosa skills...

I've heard great things about Sukhadia, but have never ventured there myself. Might have to check it out...

Rage said...

desidancer: if you're in Queens, why *ever* leave?

But I would just add for other readers that there are Rajbhogs on Newark Avenue (it's the 3-story building painted to look like the Indian tri-color, if anyone has any trouble finding it). It may be cheaper than the JH site. There's also one on Oaktree, in Iselin/Edison. A couple of other great things about Rajbhog: at least in Jersey City, they make tea to order, which means that it takes a while, but it's very fresh. Also, they have a great sweets selection.

I also really like Bombay Chat in Iselin/Edison (though I think that it may be associated with Dimple, and they don't have tea, which is sacriligious, in my book).

Finally, I'm also partial to Bengali Sweet House (yes, ACDC, yet another hidden desire to join a different ethnic group), which is not in NYC, to my knowledge, but rocks some of the chaats, has awesome sweets, and $.50 cups of tea.

Of course, there's always Singa's Famous Pizza, located in every Little India in the Metro area...