The newest craze in New York Indian food is a cusine called “Indo-Chinese”. Chinese cusine is quite popular in South Asia especially when dining out. Unlike American Chinese which is more sweet and less spicy, Indian Chinese is fiery and fragrant drawing upon the rich spices of the Subcontinent. Popular dishes in the Indo-Chinese cusine include: Gobi Manchurian (fried cauliflower), Hakka Noodles (fried Ramen noodles with vegetables), and Dry Chili Chicken (dry-rubbed chili chicken cubes).
I’ve been enamored with Indo-Chinese since my childhood visits to Bangladesh where “eating-out” meant eating Chinese. I was therefore excited to hear that Cardamom a restaraunt where I had eaten before had added Indo Chinese to its more traditional Indian tandoori grill menu. I had previously eaten there with a Korean friend and we both thought their Indian fare was passable if a bit pricey compared to other restaraunts in the neighborhood. Last night, my wife and I decided to try their Indo Chinese menu. I ordered Fried Shrimp as an appetizer and my wife had the Mulligatawny Soup. Service was really slow on the appetizers (it probably felt even slower because we were both famished) despite the fact that there were several waiters milling about. Nevertheless the meal got off on a good start. The shrimp was crisp but not overcooked inside and the breadding was fried a beautiful golden brown. Dipping it in the sweet chilly sauce was a treat, making it almost worth the wait.
Our main course consisted of the Masala Noodles and Gobi Manchurian. In my previous visits to Indo Chinese restaruants, I usually order the Hakka Noodles which are thin Ramen-like noodles fried with vegetables and chicken or shrimp. Hakka Noodles were on offer at Cardamomm as well but I decided to try the Masala Noodles instead because it was something new and seemed well spiced. The Gobi Manchurian was also a new dish for me but I knew it by reputation from other South Asian friends who’ve had it at other restaraunts.
The Masala Noodles (Masala means spice) were ironically over-spiced. The chef used low quality low mein noodles and added the most ginger I have ever eaten. I couldn’t tell if I was eating noodles or just pure ginger. I was famished so some how I got through about half the dish. It was so bad, that when the waiter asked me how I enjoyed the food, I flat out told him that I was extremely disappointed with how a simple could be so poorly cooked. The Gobi Manchurian was equally bad with soggy cauliflower also over-spiced.
The only redeeming feature of the evening was that I wasn’t the only one who seemed to extremely disappointed. A few other couples also returned at least one dish less than half eaten. The staff concerned that they might be losing repeat customers, was gracious enough not to charge me for the Masala Noodles.
The bottom line. I’ll only be back there if I read a review from a respected critic who gives a glowing review. Till then, I’ll be eating at Chinese Mirch down the block.