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Guru


Suvir Saran
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Pan had mentioned this on the Tamarind thread.

This is what she had to say at first:

"Suvir:

I like Banjara and have had good service there on the 5 or so occasions I've been there, but I've also been to Guru once and liked it, too. Considering that it's owned by the owner of the Dowel spice shop, I doubt it will deteriorate, so it might be worth your while to check out when you're in the East Village and want a masala dosa."

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This is what I had replied with

Posted: May 01 2002,14:21   

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I crave Dosas all the time... Where is Guru?  Street address?  Wonderful.  I have enjoyed my chats with the chef at Banjara.  He seems very passionate. And that is instelf a rare occurence in restaurants today.  I know I will be skewered about this.. but far too many chefs at least in the Indian restaurant world treat it as any other job or chore.  When there is passion involved things have a chance about being magical.

I live in west village..... Guru sounds nice... I will be there very soon.  Will let you know my humble feedback thereafter.

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Pans reply:

Posted: May 01 2002,23:28   

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Courtesy of www.bigyellow.com:

Guru Indian Restaurant

338 East 6 Street, New York, NY 10003

(212) 979-2135

But the short answer is that it's on the south side of 6th St. something like a quarter of the way west of 1st Av.

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My response to Pan:

Posted: May 08 2002,00:46   

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Pan.. we are going to Guru this weekend.  I will let you know what happens.  Thanks for that lead.

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Pans response:

Posted: May 08 2002,02:47   

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Quote (Suvir Saran @ May 08 2002,23:46)

(Pan.. we are going to Guru this weekend.  I will let you know what happens.  Thanks for that lead.)

You're welcome. I had another good dinner there last week. Coconut Soup (literally, coconut milk plus reconstituted dried shredded coconut plus some regular milk, cooked with green cardamom pods) and a Madras Rava Masala Dosa IIRC, which was accompanied by okra curry sauce and coconut sauce. They made it spicy as I had requested.

I'll look forward to your report.

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Pan the Okra Curry sauce makes me curious.. do you remember what they called it?  Was it a saambhaar with Okra in it?  The traditional partner to a Dosa?  

And when you say coconut sauce...would you be referring to the Coconut Chutney?  It is the spices coconut sauce with mustard seeds and ginger and chilies.  Well it has more ingredients in it.

Also the coconut soup sounds very nice.

Would love to hear more from you.

Thanks

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That slow, eh?  How come?  I do not think of service to be great at many of the Indian restaurants.  But often it is polite and humble.  And that makes up for their lack of French style understanding of service.

But when there are no smiles, no service and no humilty, it becomes bad.  

Slow in what sense?  The food comes out slowly? Not together? OR what?

I am now concerned since I am thinking of taking friends that are very fond of South Indian food but also very fussy.  Maybe we should go elsewhere.  Do you think that is necessary?

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The food took forever to come out.  There was one server, who disappeared for long stretches of time, until I began to imagine that he was also cooking.  He was very polite and apologetic, but I have only a certain amount of time at lunch.  It may be that there is more staff at dinner.  

The food was very good.  I am eager to go again in the evening.

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Pan the Okra Curry sauce makes me curious.. do you remember what they called it?  Was it a saambhaar with Okra in it?  The traditional partner to a Dosa?  

And when you say coconut sauce...would you be referring to the Coconut Chutney?  It is the spices coconut sauce with mustard seeds and ginger and chilies.  Well it has more ingredients in it.

Also the coconut soup sounds very nice.

Would love to hear more from you.

Thanks

Suvir:

In answer to your first question, when I've had Masala Dosas before, I've tended to be served a potato/squash curry sauce or some such. At Guru, the green vegetable in the curry sauce was okra. I don't remember any description of it being given on the menu; it was just the curry sauce to accompany the dosa. I didn't think of it as a sambhar because I thought that was reserved for the little condiments one puts on papadams and puris, but I guess it must be a sambhar, based on your description.

Yes, the coconut sauce I mentioned was Coconut Chutney, more or less as you described it - with many mustard seeds. It's served cold, both at Madras Mahal (2nd Av. between 4th and 5th Sts.) and Guru, as well as when I had a dosa at Jackson Diner in Queens.

I found the coconut soup very soothing.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Sambhaar is what is a lentil based sauce served with Dosad traditionally.  Sambhaars are made with different mixed or seasonal vegetables.  At times just one vegetable added to the lentil sauce and at other times a melange of seasonal vegetables.  Okra sambhaar is common in Southern India but I am happy to see it make it into restaurant menus here.

Yes the coconut chutney that accompanies Dosas is normally served chilled.  And mustard seeds are a very important ingredient.

The coconut soup sounds amazing.  I cannot wait to try it.

Pan.. thanks for suggesting this restaurant.  It seems like quite a find.

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Doesn't sound like you were blown away by it.

I went again the other day and got a "hot" utthapam. It was only moderately hot, but I thought it was very tasty. The only real criticism I'd give it is that part of the bottom of it was slightly burnt, but not so much as to really bother me (that happens with pancakes).

Then again, when I eat Indian food in New York, I don't generally think of meals I had in India for comparison because I never expect to have an Indian meal in New York of the quality of my breakfast at Madras Woodlands in Delhi, for example. Then too, that was a long time ago (1977).

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Madras Woodlands... wow.. You are lucky.  That is one of my favorite places.

Our experience was not the best.

The Coconut soup was somewhere between porridge without oats and a pudding with very little sugar. And a soup with no flavor.  Yes it did have cardamom seeds floating around. I took 3 spoonfuls and could not get around to having more.  They give a huge portion and so reasonable.

The Bhel Puri was not authentic at all, but was tasty.  In fact the best thing we ate last night.

The Idlis were terrible at best.  I myself cannot make good Idlis.  Do not know why.  When I make them, mine are like Gurus.  Leathery and chewy instead of being spongy.

The Medu Vadas were good.

The Sambhaar had good flavor.  Too watery though. Sambhaar is the lentil sauce that accompanies Dosas and Idlis and Vadas. It was nicely spiced.  I was happy seeing mustard seeds floating in the sauce.  A good sign that the chef has used spices other than in the Sambhaar Powder you buy at a store.  I only wish they had not diluted the sauce so much.  It would have had even more potential.

The Masala Vadas (spicy vadas) were the thickest and least flavorful Masala Vadas I have had in a long time.  One usually does not find them on menus easily.  When I see them on a menu, I feel obliged to order them.  I love them.  Masala Vadas are bursting with flavor, heat, lentils, chilies, spices but these had nothing.  Sad.

I ate the Mysore Masala Dosa.  It is like a regular dosa with a spice chutney rub on the inside of the crepe.  The Dosa had been sitting in the kitchen as they made my friends.  It came out lukewarm and soggy at places.  The filling was nicer than I have eaten in many Indian restaurants.  

My friend ordered the Masala Dosa and his came out crisper and warmer.  But again not hot.  

The coconut chutney was excellent.

For a while we were the only table at the restaurant.  And when it did get busy, we were one of 3 tables.  But yet, the service was slow.  There were plenty of servers or employees lingering around.  But that seemed to not help.  

It took 20 minutes after ordering a Coke for it to come out.  I had to ask three times before they actually brought it.  

The servers were all very polite.  Very eager to help.  But really very very slow.

This place is exciting to have in the neighborhood.  Gives 6th Street a vegetarian option, with Southern Indian food.

I found out that there are two owners one from Southern India and the other from Bangladesh.  

There are two chefs as well.  A Bangladeshi chef and a chef from Southern India.  She was off last night so we had Dosas made by the Bengali chef.

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Sorry you had a mediocre experience at Guru, Suvir. I think it will be very hard for you to find an Indian restaurant in New York that will meet with your full satisfaction.

What do you think of places in Jackson Heights? Any favorites? I've been to the Jackson Diner a couple of times and enjoyed it a great deal, but I'd be interested in hearing about other options, especially as friends of mine recently moved to 84 St., which is only 10 blocks from the heart of the Indian neighborhood.

By the way, I've also found that service is slow at Guru, and I don't know why that is. I can be somewhat pushy when I need service, and it's easier to be pushy when one is dining by oneself, as I have the two times I've been to Guru so far.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Pan you are right in some ways.  But when I go out in NYC, I tend to not be very fussy.  I enjoy the mere fact that I am not cooking for dinner.

Jackson Diner is great.  

I too can be pushy when I have to for service. I did so last night, since we were really one of at the most 3 tables.  At one point we were the only table.

It was exciting to have a South Indian restaurant so close to home.  And the Dosas are good.

I will go back.

Thanks for the lead.

Keep me posted on  the other restaurants around there.  There  seems to always be such activity on that block.

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  • 1 year later...

It occurs to me that I never posted about the fact that I took Guru out of my rotation several months ago. The last meal that I had there upset my stomach as much as meals I've had in the more prototypical 6th-St. restaurants. I'm not entirely sure what to make of that (more fat being used? off day?), but each time I visit Madras Cafe, I find that it has continued to be just as good as ever, so Madras Cafe remains my local South Indian standby.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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It occurs to me that I never posted about the fact that I took Guru out of my rotation several months ago. The last meal that I had there upset my stomach as much as meals I've had in the more prototypical 6th-St. restaurants. I'm not entirely sure what to make of that (more fat being used? off day?), but each time I visit Madras Cafe, I find that it has continued to be just as good as ever, so Madras Cafe remains my local South Indian standby.

Thanks for sharing this tid-bit of information Michael (Pan).

I have never been to Madras Cafe. This is in East Village I assume? I know there is one South Indian restaurant in the low teens or even lower on one of the avenues... it could be 2nd Avenue. I have always wanted to try it. Could this be Madras Cafe?

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Madras Cafe is on 2 Av. between 4th and 5th Sts.:

Courtesy of www.superpages.com

Madras Cafe

79 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003

(212) 254-8002

I have no idea whether it would meet your high standards, but I can't recall getting anything there I didn't like, except perhaps a pickle. There are some Indian pickles that, please forgive me, remind me of turpentine. :laugh::laugh:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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It is the same place I was thinking of. Thanks for posting about it Pan. :smile:

When back in the city, I shall make a visit there.

And you know what, there are some Indian pickles served in restaurants and sold in stores that remind me of turpentine as well. :shock:

Pickling is a lost art for the most part. Those that have grown up with the tradition do it very well. For pickling one needs to have amazing produce, very fresh oil, and perfectly clean and fresh spices and also the perfect proportions. And then you have to sun them, age them and rest them according to the recipe and where you are situated. If any of these steps is handled poorly, the result will be mediocre to poor.

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