Chennai Garden NYC Indian Restaurant
Chennai Garden129 E.27 St
(Btwn Park & Lexington Ave)
New York, NY 10016
Chennai Garden Review: Yummy Idli & Vada, Tasty Utappam, Awful Pongal, Heavenly Badam HalwaGiven our unswerving loyalty to Indian cuisine in NYC, it's no surprise we made Chennai Garden on E.27th St (off Lexington Ave) our port of call the other day.
A vegetarian Indian restaurant of long standing, Chennai Garden serves several South Indian items and a few North Indian dishes as well.
We tasted a variety of South Indian favorites ranging from Idli and Vada to Onion Hot Pepper Utappam, Pongal and Badam Halwa.
For the most part the food we tasted at Chennai Garden was good with the sole exception of the godawful Pongal.
Chennai Garden - Good Idli, VadaIdli was soft, fluffy, hot and tasty. We finished it with mucho gusto.
Medhu Vada was flavorful with Cilantro, green chilli and black pepper seeds seasoning. More than the flavor we were delighted to eat a Vada that was evenly fried without the taste of raw flour inside coming into our mouth. Much to our distress, a lot of Indian restaurants in the U.S. do not serve well fried Vadas.
Our Idli-Vada combo came with Coconut Chutney and Sambar made of Zuchni, Italian Green Squash and Drumstick.
Chennai Garden's Coconut Chutney was flavorful and, more importantly, not ice cold as it usually is at most Indian restaurants in the NY/NJ area. While we relished the Coconut Chutney, our battle-hardened Indian palates would have preferred it a tad spicier.
The medium thick Zuchni, Italian Green Squash, Drumstick Sambar came hot and was flavorful. We enjoyed the soft Idli and flavorful Vada by breaking them into pieces and dipping them into the Sambar. Though Chennai Garden's Sambar was flavorful, we were, however, put off by the thick layer of floating oil and red chilli powder on top of the Sambar.
Chennai Garden Lexington Ave - Real Hot UtappamAs promised by Chennai Garden's menu, the Onion Hot Pepper Utappam was hot and spicy.
Cooked evenly without any traces of raw flour or burnt texture on one side, the Onion Hot Pepper Utappam was a treat. We quickly gobbled it up using the Coconut Chutney and Sambar as sides.
Chennai Garden NYC - Awful PongalWhile we enjoyed Idli, Vada and the Onion Hot Pepper Utappam, what brought tears to our eyes was the Pongal.
There were several issues with Chennai Garden's Pongal. It lacked the texture and taste of authentic Pongal. It tasted like overcooked pasty white rice with well soaked moong dal, ghee and curry leaves thrown into it. The problem was that the Rice did not seem to have been cooked along with Moong Dal and Black Pepper. Rather they seemed to have been added later as an after thought. The end result was plain yucky!
We cursed ourselves for not picking up the ominous hints from the Chennai Garden waiter who took our order. When we asked him what kinds of Pongal the restaurant served, he was clueless and responded rudely - How many kinds of Pongal are there? Since Pongal comes in both sweet and spicy forms, we pressed the waiter whether it was sweet or spicy. Finally, he managed to mumble that it was salty! What a bozo.
For once, we thanked God Almighty for the small serving size.
Our order of Pongal came with a single piece of Vada and Drumstick Sambar.
Chennai Garden NYC - Beyond ReproachEver since Vasanta Bhavan on Rt 107 in the Hicksvile town of Long Island closed down we have been scouting for good Badam Halwa. When we saw it listed on the Chennai Garden's Menu we jumped and ordered it pronto.
A fatal mistake, folks. Instead of a single plate, we should have asked for multiple plates of Badam Halwa. It was that good.
Chennai Garden's Badam Halwa was medium thick and hot with right proportion of Almonds, Rava, Ghee and Sugar. It was Nirvana redux and we instantly withdrew all the curses we heaped on the restaurant for messing up the Pongal.