Wednesday, May 30, 2007

biting the big apple


Taj Mahal Glowing Red Soup
After shopping along St. Mark's Place, I wandered aimlessly along nearby streets, my stomach growling by the time I reached 6th St. I stumbled upon a block of Indian restaurants, nearly all with cheap lunch specials. Since all I was really looking for was walking fuel for the rest of the afternoon, I figured I could stop for a quite bite and have something more substantial for dinner. I flipped a coin and wound up at Taj Mahal, which offered a set course lunch for $6.

The meal started off with a bowl of mulligatawny soup, more accurately described as tomato garlic soup. The radioactive glow was frightening, but it didn't taste too bad, due to the healthy amount of chopped garlic. This was followed by a well-spiced, densely-packed samosa and average pappadum.

Chicken Korma Rice and "Naan"
I nearly ran out of room at my table when the rest of the meal arrived. The main was chicken korma, which had a strong hint of crushed almonds. The chicken was not full of bones or gristle, but the chef had been in a hurry to add yogurt, as I found some that hadn't been fully stirred in.

The korma arrived with a large platter of perfectly-cooked basmati. Unfortunately, it also came with "naan" that might have been a supermarket greek pita. Welcome to the price tradeoff.

Next time, I'll let my tummy growl a little longer.

Gem Spa (1)
I can't verify if Gem Spa (8th St and 2nd Ave) lives up to its billing, but their egg creams have hit the spot for years. Milk, vanilla syrup and seltzer...mmmm. Check out a primer on the egg cream.

Gray's Papaya Gray's Vats
Further west on 8th, at 6th Ave, is Gray's Papaya, home of frothy fruit drinks and the long-running "recession special" (two hot dogs and a drink, now up to $3.50). Shiny vats behind the counter hold the promise of fruity goodness.

Gray's Papaya Drink Revitizer?
I opted for just a drink, the namesake papaya concoction. Cold, frothy, vaguely like a Julius but not as creamy. Part of Gray's charm are the signs plastering its walls, proclaiming their drink's revitalizing properties.

Sushi Lounge (1) Sushi Lounge (2)
Dinner found me back in the East Village, this time at Sushi Lounge (St. Mark's Place and Ave A), one of a number of Japanese places in the area advertising 50% off their menu items. I'll also fess up to being lured in by an ad in the Village Voice. It appeared to be bustling and noisy, so I grabbed a seat.

Sushi Lounge (3)
Since this was the only day I wasn't going to be behind the wheel, I ordered a small sake, which proved larger than expect. Despite a bowl of miso soup, I suspect I was on my way to inebriation by the time my order of rolls arrived. Top to bottom: Fancy Naruto Roll (shrimp tempura, eel, fish roe and asparagus), Dragon Roll (avocado, eel and cucumber) and Shrimp Cucumber Roll. The rolls held together well and the asparagus proved a tasty addition. No complaints, though the sake ensured a woozy walk for the rest of the evening. Total damage: $20.

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