We were in town for Labor Day weekend to send Josh off to college. It was time to check out some new places before they got so crowded that we would bag due to the lines. Babu Ji was calling our name. You know that the place is good when the streets are pretty vacant and every restaurant you pass has plenty of seats available but there is a line waiting to get into the place that you were going to.
There was a 20 minute wait for two seats. The people at Babu Ji could not be nicer. The woman that was running the place suggested we walk down the street to Maiden Lane for a drink. If we showed them a ticket she gave us we would get a discount on the drinks. Maiden Lane is absolutely adorable. We had a drink and were taken in with all the canned seafood they sell from Spain and Portugal. We bought a full bag of goodies before walking back to Babu Ji.
In the late 80’s and early 90’s we lived in the east village. It was quite a different place back then. I saw this posted right outside the restaurant. I remember those riots. They were the best thing that happened to Tompkins Street Park. The park was filled with tents of homeless people. The police ( and mayor ) basically went in and cleared it out. The park remained closed for months afterward while it was cleaned up. A beautiful playground was put in for the kids in the area. It became a place for the community which blossomed after that. It was not pretty from either side but parks change neighborhoods. They are meant to be enjoyed not for people to live in.
Let’s get down to Babu Ji. The food is off the charts. The chef is the happiest guy. He was making his way around the room and came out to talk to us twice. I can hardly wait to go back. People are having fun here. Great vibe with Bollywood films showing on the wall. What a fantastic addition to the NY food scene. Incredible. The menu has GF at the end of many of the dishes. I thought it was Garlic Factor after reading the menu…but no it is Gluten-free. Our waiter got a kick out of that. Each dish is prepared fresh so he was more than happy to help us out.
Before we even sat down we picked our beers. There is a fridge filled with an array of interesting beers. I had this delicious ginger beer.
Our first dish out was Gol Gappa. This dish comes from the street food part of the menu. Crispy one bites filled with tangy sweet spicy flavors. The server brought it out. He told us to each pick up one. Have each of us click each other with our piece like you were toasting with a glass of something and then pop them in our mouth. The flavors just explode in your mouth. A big wow.
Next out was a spinach cheese dish. Our waiter really wanted us to have it. It was my least favorite but it was still good.
This came out with the basmati sella rice. The chef told us about this rice later in our meal. It is just simple but there is something insanely flavorful about it. It is a must order.
Along side was the scallop curry. A rich coconut curry where the scallops are placed in right before they serve the dish so they are just perfectly cooked. I could put this curry in a bottle and walk around sucking on it all day. It is absolutely divine….and filling!
Sesame onion naan. Hot, crispy, chewy and perfect. It was hard not to continue pulling out a little bread with each bite of food for an additional dip to soak up everything.
Our last was the tandoori chicken from the street food part of the menu. Large juicy pieces of tandoori chicken charred in a tandoor and served with a mint salsa.
We were so stuffed that having a dessert was not in the cards. What is in the cards is coming back with a group of people so we can taste more. I can’t say enough good things about this place. So good.