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Amma


prasad2
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I wondered about this as well, but I had seen him mentioned in another review so I assumed that the wine pairings were based on Josh Wesson's recommendations. But yes, I wanted them to mention Bikky as well - he was such a memorable part of my evening at Amma.

Matthew In Minnesota

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Our Amma experience:

We were only in New York for one night, so I booked a couple weeks in advance. We made the reservation for 5 o'clock (opening time), since our party included our two anarcho-revolutionary kids (4 and 7) and it thus made sense to avoid the crowd that was certain to arrive later. However, we were delayed by the snows (we drove in from Boston via Connecticut), and so we had to call and bump up our arrival to 5:30. In the meantime, we had invited my wife's second cousin, who lives in Fort Lee, and her daughter as well (as well as possibly her boyfriend), increasing the size of our party to six (or seven). The staff accepted all these changes quite graciously.

After finally all collecting ourselves there, we got to meet Suvir. He was very kind and patient in welcoming us and in explaining all the dishes, as well as asking about our trip. He mentioned rather that for the longest time on egullet he thought that I was a woman! O.K. - I'm not uptight about that kind of thing, but maybe I've got to get suitably masculine avatar - any suggestions?

I ordered a non-veg tasting menu, and my second niece ordered a veg-tasting menu. Suvir kept returning after each course, describing personally what each dish was about. He was remarkably accepting of what turned out to be a very chaotic ordering pattern on our part (I'll spare you the details), and of the general chaos that characterized our table thanks to the kids and the scatterbrained parents. In the end, my wife's second cousin even insisted on paying the bill

By 6:30 or so, the place was completely full, and the managers had to constantly turn away patrons who had arrived without a reservation.

The food? After reading what seems like a dozen glowing descriptions here and in the newspapers of the spinach tikki, the bhelpuri, the fried spinach with mung beans, the crispy okra, the Malabar Salmon with the famous tomato chutney, the tandoor-roated lamb chop with great garnish of spiced pears, the deserts, and everything else, I don't feel like I have anything to add that could provide a lot of additional information. Also, while I took some pictures of the food (as I'm trying to do everytime I go out to eat, much to the irritation of my wife), they pale in comparison to the ones Tana Butler put up here earlier. And even before I could frame the shots, opportunistic little fingers would reach with lightning speed to grab a handful of bhelpuri or an entire lamb chop, so I usually ended up taking pictures of half-eaten food.

Needless to say, everything was original and flawless, as expected. Perhaps the biggest surprises were these:

  • My son actually ate vegetables, and did so ravenously. This is a guy who will often shout in indignation if he finds a scrap of green onion or cilantro in his fried rice. However, he couldn't keep his hands off the fried spinach with mung bean sprouts, or the crispy okra. After eating the portion I gave him, he would surreptitiously try to steal some extra spinach from my plate. Thanks, Suvir, for showing him the light!
  • Suvir provided us with an incredible number of extra dishes, gratis (again, I'll spare you the details, so you won't feel jealous!), which made us feel very special. However, one thing that stood out was what happened when my son expressed slight disappointment at the pea filling in the samosa that he had grabbed off my plate. "I thought it would have potatoes", he said in front of Suvir. Very soon, as if by magic, out came a plate containing two large potato samosas, which we had not ordered. Needless to say, my son was very happy and devoured nearly the whole thing, though sharing some of the crust with his sister.
  • The Cauliflower Manchurian was a true surprise for someone who had never tried Chinese-Indian food before. A sauce containing a large amount of garlic and fresh chilies surrounding a crisp center - it reminded me of some of an extremely well-made fresh Korean side dish.
  • The Crispy Okra was not only free from slime of any kind, it had an incredible savoriness that seemed to come from chaat masala or black salt (kala namak), one of the components of chaat masala. A great compbination.

Anyway, as I mentioned, the food pictures I took didn't really turn out, but here are some group poses:

i1643.jpg

Suvir and my family

i1644.jpg

Suvir and me

Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and it was worth it to drive down to New York for this alone. Many thanks and Mahalo Nui Loa, Suvir!

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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He mentioned rather that for the longest time on egullet he thought that I was a woman!  O.K. - I'm not uptight about that kind of thing, but maybe I've got to get suitably masculine avatar - any suggestions?

[*] Suvir provided us with an incredible number of extra dishes, gratis (again, I'll spare you the details, so you won't feel jealous!), which made us feel very special. 

Go ahead, make us jealous!

[*] The Crispy Okra was not only free from slime of any kind, it had an incredible savoriness that seemed to come from chaat masala or black salt (kala namak), one of the components of chaat masala.  A great compbination.

It looks like I will have to try the okra when I next go to Amma. I am prejudiced in the extreme, being an ex-patriate Southern girl who had sworn off the slimy stuff for life. But I'll try the okra. You've all talked me into it.

Great post, SKChai, and thank you for sharing your experience!

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It looks like I will have to try the okra when I next go to Amma. I am prejudiced in the extreme, being an ex-patriate Southern girl who had sworn off the slimy stuff for life. But I'll try the okra. You've all talked me into it.

Please try it, Tana. I hadn't eaten okra in years until I had the pleasure at Amma. One of several examples of my mentally relegating certain foods to a "bad" category (okra = slimy) and then being blown away by a skilled treatment of that food.

Erin
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Mahalo nui loa, Tana, for explaining the meaning of "Mahalo nui loa".

Jenny, the kids get along pretty well, though they were pretty rambunctious at the restaurant when Alex wasn't chomping down everything in sight. You should see the other pictures from that day - they're both sticking their tongues out in every single one.

Since a lot of people are mentioning the okra - I did happen to take a picture.

i1671.jpg

Warning: this out-of-focus shot of half-eaten food does not do any kind of justice to the stylish presentation that arrived at our table and remained untouched for about half a second, but it does give you some idea of how crisp and unslimy the okra dish is. It is framed by half of a piece of paneer-stuffed chicken breast and half of a large tandoori prawn!

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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It appears that Amma continues to please and delight. Suvir, congratulations! My daughter is going to be vacationing in New York soon, and will be there to sample these delicious treats herself. I am eagerly awaiting her report!!

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Have reservations for three at five on Saturday. Making the trek in from Jersey for my friend's birthday. Looking forward to all the wonderful things and hoping to meet you formally, Suvir.

Tanabutler's pictures are so enticing!

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I have a reservation for four this Tuesday. This will be the first time I'll be going with enough people to try a variety of dishes, and I'm excited to get a wider sense of the menu. I went to Amma alone for dinner before it opened officially with Suvir and Hemant as chefs -- they were still tweaking the menu -- and I loved it. I went for the second time for lunch a few weeks ago another positive experience, although not as positive as my first. I ordered the stuffed chicken breast for an appetizer, which I tried and loved on my first visit -- almost as good I remembered it. My lamb chops, which I couldn't stop talking about after I first had them, were the most tender I've tasted if a bit too fatty. The pear chutney and the chops' bed of spiced potatoes, invented, or at least added to the menu, after my first trip, were fantastic. My friend had the lunch special of Bhel Puri, Shrimp Balchao, and Tandoori Halibut, all very good, though the halibut was drier than I would have liked. Even though it's been said a thousand times on this long thread, I'd like to say that I'm amazed at the subtly of the restaurant's spicing. I've always loved Indian food for the multi-dimensional flavors dishes bring, but Amma is an incomparable experience, in my opinion.

I was, however, unimpressed by the service. For my first trip, Suvir knew I was coming and I was effectively waited on by him and one other waiter. I was so impressed by his generosity and my overall experience that I didn't blink at the compliments I've read about the service on this thread. During my second visit, though, I thought the service was awkward, almost brusque. Has anyone found the service more casual or less gracious during lunch? How have you all felt you were treated by staff when you were not announced as a member of eGullet?

I'll report on my third visit soon after Tuesday.

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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I was, however, unimpressed by the service. For my first trip, Suvir knew I was coming and I was effectively waited on by him and one other waiter. I was so impressed by his generosity and my overall experience that I didn't blink at the compliments I've read about the service on this thread. During my second visit, though, I thought the service was awkward, almost brusque. Has anyone found the service more casual or less gracious during lunch? How have you all felt you were treated by staff when you were not announced as a member of eGullet?

I'll report on my third visit soon after Tuesday.

Unbelievable dinner at Amma tonight. Service -- Suvir was not in the restaurant -- was excellent, unintrusive, almost unnoticeable. We had a ton of food and the waiters did a great job stuffing it on the table and serving it from the cart.

I ordered a few dishes I was skeptical about -- who knew eggplant in a peanut-curry leaf sauce would be good? -- and all were great. Besides that, the basil chicken and mint rice were also great surprises. I ordered two dishes I've had before -- apricot-fennel stuffed lamb and stuffed chicken -- and they were in top form. The lamb, which had been tough in the past and the dish overly sweet, was tender and subtle. The chicken was great. Great raita. I didn't love idly upma -- but it was a very interesting dish -- like farina cakes. Great job, Suvir. Nothing will keep me from returning.

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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My daughter and her soon-to-be husband had the fabulous good fortune to eat at Amma on January 2nd. Suvir treated them like royalty, and they're still talking about the amazing food.

They had:

Amuse bouche - Spinach and lentil cakes served with a cilantro chutney (like salsa verde) and a sweet and sour tamarind chutney

First course - Crispy Spinach Chaat

Crisp whole leaves of spinach served in layers with a salad of sprouted mung beans, red onions, tomatoes, mint, cilantro and chaat masala (a blend of sour spices like ground green mango peel, ground pomegranate seeds and toasted cumin seed powder)

Second Course - Crispy Okra, Tandoor grilled Sri Lankan Jumbo Prawns and Stuffed Chicken Breast

The okra is cut lengthwise, not the usual way, into thin juliennes that get very crisp, it is then tossed with salt, cilantro, red onion and tomato juliennes and lemon juice.

The Shrimp are huge... And fresh and grilled in the tandoor and have a simple yogurt marinade.

The chicken is a breast of chicken that is stuffed with spiced minced chicken and a whole spinach leaf and then grilled in the tandoor

Third Course - Lamb Chop with Jackfruit Biryaani

The lamb chops at Amma are legendary. They are grilled in the tandoor and have a yogurt and ginger marinade.

The biryaani (a layered rice and vegetable casserole) is made using Jackfruit, which is a fruit that is close to the Chinese Durian fruit but is void of the nasty Durian smell. It is very meaty and gives the impression of being chicken or some other meat layered into the rice. The rice is very fragrant and has saffron in abundance as also whole garam masala (a blend of whole spices like cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves, black peppercorn, cumin and fennel seeds).

The plate also had a pear chutney that is sweet and spicy. Made with pears, jaggery (a very raw form brown sugar made from Sugar cane), fenugreek leaves and fennel seeds.

For dessert, they shared the Mango Cheesecake, which they said was absolutely marvelous. They were arguing over who got the last bite.

And the sommelier Bikky, paired wines with each course.

When I asked them which of these marvels they enjoyed the most, they positively waxed rhapsodic, mentioning first one thing, and then another, and then a third as being the "favorite": "The lamb was the best thing I've ever tasted...no wait, I think it was the prawns...no, maybe the chicken."

That evening at Amma will remain in their memories forever. And, as I told Suvir, it's not everyone that can provide people with such a treasure as this.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Thanks for that great meal report.

I feel like I'll be the last person in New York to make it to Amma. :wacko:

Just a little side note: Jackfruit isn't that much like durian (which to my knowledge is an equatorial fruit grown in Malaysia and Thailand, for example, but not in subtropical regions like Guangdong province in China), except that they're both very large fruits that grow on tall trees, have thick skins and have soppy sections of fruit surrounding large seeds, with fibrous tissue in between. But the smell and taste are totally different, and jackfruit also has smooth skin and no thorns (duri in Malay).

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Pan, what are you waiting for?

He's waiting for me to get there first, so he can really be the last person in NY to get there!

:laugh::laugh:

Seriously, this is the first day I've felt pretty well (crossing fingers) for about 4 weeks, so that's part of it.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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