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Has anybody eaten at "Chinese Mirch" (120 Lexington Ave, NY) which apparently serves Chinese food in the Indian style? I've had such food in London and Calcutta and found that, to me, it is easier to think of as a subset of Indian food, rather than a subset of Chinese cuisine (in the same way that Chop Suey is an American food). Elements of the cuisine seem to be the substitution of paneer for tofu, and the liberal use of chillis.

Here's the press release for the place.

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I have eaten there a few times. I found the quality of meat to be rather suspect. Almost reminicent of the type of chicken bits you would get from one of the girls who hands out toothpicked samples at the food court in front of the cajun express. Got the chili chicken and despite my request to be scalded, the food was mildly heated. Had the lemon corriander soup which was excellent. Had a few other dishes that were just eh. Chicken lolipops were certainly good. Not on the same level as a the three star ones at Spice Market :smile:

I think the sole reason for this places existance was to introduce me to the lemon corriander soup. Hehe. I just think that its a bad chinese restaurant and an ok indian restaurant. There isnt one dish you cant find better and equally priced somewhere else.

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  • 1 year later...

Deconstruction New York Entry #18

Many small American cities would be pleased to have a satisfying Chinese restaurant and a satisfying Indian restaurant side-by-side. What makes New York a chowist paradise is that one need not traipse next door. Tonight I visited Chinese Mirch on Curry Hill, known for its row of inexpensive Indian restaurants.

The New York Times is quoted as announcing that Chinese Mirch is "the first Manhattan restaurant to serve this strange but satisfying hybrid of two of the cities favorite cuisines." I neither doubt the claim of priority or critic's judgement. Chinese Mirch uses traditional Indian ingredients, including a set of spices as Indian as Chinese, but with preparations that owe more to Chinese cuisine. I applaud the conception of the

dishes (what literary scholars might label their hybridity), although the execution - with a single exception - was only adequate.

For much of what follows, I give great credit to my dining partner, who posts as "Hammer" on our grand Chicago board. Hammer has an ability that I do not fully share of not only tasting the dishes placed before her, but as a skilled cook herself, she is able to deconstruct the dish into its components, revealing how it was prepared. She tastes the process; I taste the product.

Our superior dish, and a dish for which I would gladly return was "Gobi Manchurian," cauliflower florets tossed in fresh ginger, garlic and onions. The cauliflower was first quickly deep fried before being sauteed with ginger, white pepper, onion, garlic, and green pepper. The florets retained some of their crunch, while absorbing the pungency of the other ingredients. The Gobi has some heat, but will be satisfying to those who avoid peppers. This is a remarkable vegetable dish.

The second appetizer, one for which Chinese Mirch is known, was "Chicken Lollipops," spicy wings with the meat pulled back and fried to force a lollipop shape. This dish had more heat than the Gobi, and was pleasant for that, if not terribly complex. It was more a starter than a fully conceived dish. The spices included Chinese pepper, touched perhaps with curry-based spices. It was satisfying, if not memorable.

Less successful were our two entrees. The Crispy Szechuan Lamb was twice cooked meat, but unfortunately it had been coated with flour (and/or cornstarch), without the flour fully cooked, giving the dish a somewhat pasty taste. The lamb and the Chinese and Indian spices mixed well, but the dish was not as compelling as it might have been had the lamb been fried naked.

Our second entree was a disappointment: Chicken Coriander, diced chicken in a coriander sauce. Its texture with heavy notes of lemon reminded one of any inauthentic Americanized Chinese restaurant. It was more glop than glisten. The chicken sank under the weight of the sauce. The coriander, used with an intensity owing more to Indian cuisine than Chinese, could have, in the right hands, provided a memorable cross-cultural excursion.

Much on the menu of Chinese Mirch is intriguing, and the chef knows his spice rack. However, with the exception of the Gobi Manchurian the restaurant avoids the lightness of preparation that would transform dinner from an interesting experiment to a compelling example of culinary deconstruction.

Chinese Mirch

120 Lexington Avenue

Manhattan (Murray Hill)

212-532-3663

My Webpage: Vealcheeks

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let me attempt to deconstruct a bit:

Indian Chinese is what I knew in my teenage years eating in Calcutta; now Kolkatta - A chinese food prepared by then - third generation indians of chinese origin - Over two generations much of these immigrants (mostly cooking Hakka style) had adopted indian ingredients and some techniques to create a unique style -

For indians (desis), their yearning for chinese food that they had in India tends to evoke some kind of nostalgia-trigger - a.k.a Chicken manchurian, Chilli (as in green chilles) chicken etc. Nothing more, nothing less.

Mee Goreng (sp?) is a dish popular in Malay which is considered indian interpretation fo noodles :) But in India ne knows a similar dish as vegetable noodles (oily :) )

In contenporary India - in most major cities, every indian restaurant will serve veg,non-veg.chinese et. al. most cooking chinese do not know diddly squat-nada about chinese cuisine - Just rote cooking :) That in essense is what 95% of indians in India know as chinese cuisine -

{"Psst have you tried indian according to the hungarians or Czech during the Warsaw-pact era :) " ]

Much of the crowd that loves Chinese Mirch are post party revelers from DJ Ladla or DJ rekha events :cool:

anil

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There are many better versions of this cuisine in Queens, most notably Tangra Masala - which has two locations - one in Sunnyside (newly opened in a cheesy but nice and airy old Romanian dining hall - thing lots of mirrors and columns) and the other in Elmhurst near the Target.

I recently tried the newly opened one in Sunnyside (on Queens Blvd. and I think 39th Road or Place - a block from the 40th St stop on the 7) and was still blown away. The lunch special for $7.95 starts with a really fantastic bowl of hot and sour soup (all of the spices seem to be fresh and really pop out) and the chili chicken with gravy was fiercely spicy even though I had requested it medium. (A sign of good things if that's their medium - my stomach wasn't too happy with me that day both going into and out of that meal.)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had dinner at Chinese Mirch today. I was not that impressed.

Before I start the main body of my report, I'll note that small containers (shotglass-sized or so) of red chili paste and bird's eye chilis pickled in light vinegar (as you'll find in places like Chao Zhou) were on the table. It was good that they were.

I started off with Crispy Okra. As I was eating it, I was thinking "This would be good bar food." It tasted of the oil that it had been fried in, salt, and some spices, but had essentially no chili bite. And this in a dish that had been given one star as "moderately hot." I told the waiter "This is good, but it needs more chili powder." My solution was to use the red chili paste as a dip, which improved things a good deal.

For my main dish, I had ordered the Honey Chili Lamb, which got two stars as "hot," but the waiter told me it was kind of sweet and that if I wanted hot, I should get the Crispy Szechuan Lamb, which was spicier and better, so I agreed to that. Well, the Szechuan Lamb was not that great. It didn't have a very complex taste, and though it had pieces of three bird's eye chilis, the chili bite hadn't distributed much throughout the rest of the dish. My solution was to use the bird's eye chilis pickled in light vinegar, which also benefitted the dish by adding some sourness to it.

I got a dessert: Two pieces of flatbread stuffed with date paste, with a chocolate sauce that was perhaps too strong and some vanilla ice cream. Dessert was pleasant, and constituted the best part of the meal.

It seems that the restaurant does not lack for customers, many of whom are Indians who no doubt miss the Chinese food they used to get in India (but are they really getting it at Chinese Mirch?), but I think that this establishment may be missing their bet. I think that they should expand and put in a big bar, so that they can make money selling more drinks and people can have things like the crispy okra and the chicken wings and battered shrimp with what looked like sweet chili dips as accompaniment for their drinks. The type of music they were playing and its volume level (not really, really loud but loud enough for a bar) also was suitable for a bar, but they'd need a separate section with lower lighting, and just plain more space.

As a restaurant, well, it cost me including tip $40, and I could have gotten a much better meal at Grand Sichuan for closer to $25, so I don't think I'll be going back soon.

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Pan,

When I saw you reviewing this place, I knew it was going to be bad news.. This place is a sub-par restaurant... And even after a year, it still suckers the likes of you for a meal.. What magical powers does this place have??? And what cant they find a spell for good food.

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Daniel, my father was interested in the place, so I gave it a try. Now, he won't be going. But you're right; I didn't think of your warning while I was walking past and went in on a whim. Despite the amount of time I spend here, I don't always remember who said what about which place when I haven't specifically used eGullet to plan where I'm going, so don't feel too bad about not having saved me from a mediocre meal.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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