Sukhadia’s vegetarian fare mainly bettered elsewhere.

Clocking in at number 82 on Sietsema’s list, Sukhadia, at 17 W. 45th Street in Manhattan, is a mixed bag.  On one hand, one could assemble a quite reasonably priced meal from the menu.  On the other hand, it would require some inside knowledge of what to order to be completely successful, as not everything they offer is worthy.

With my roommate and one of his co-workers, we arrived at Sukhadia last night to find the place rather empty.  The “international crowd” was half right – the ethnicity of the various people who filed in and out was varied, but “crowd” would have been an overstatement with twice as many people.  I guess it WAS Monday, but the place was practically abandoned.

To get to the back room where the tables are, you’ve got to walk through a typical lunch-buffet-looking area – it really looks like any other corporate lunch place.  It’s totally incongruous with the back room, though, which features chandeliers and marble-topped tables that, while not terribly expensive-looking, give the impression that Sukhadia is attempting to be something more upscale.

I wouldn’t call them upscale, though – the food, good and bad, was quite humble.  We started with the samosa chat ($4) and channa tikki ($5), which were the definite highlights of the evening.  The samosa, a vegetable dumpling, was pleasingly topped with chickpeas and an array of sweet and mildly spicy sauces.  As I had actually ordered the kachoori chat, I was a bit chagrined when it arrived (the service at Sukhadia, by the way, was inattentive bordering on incompetent), but it proved to be the best thing we ate.  The channa tikki, with a mildly spicy sauce and chickpeas over chunks of potato, was also good, though perhaps a little too same-y for our taste.

Both of those were heaven compared to one of the mains – the palak paneer ($9) was among the worst iterations of the dish I’ve ever had.  Containing nothing resembling fresh spinach, and a green paste-like substance that approximated canned creamed spinach, it’s hard to believe that this dish and Spicy Mina’s excellent broccoli-rabe-ish dish are purportedly the same thing.

Fortunately, the dosa (mysore masala version, $8) was better.  The lentil crepe and potatoes inside were quite good, even if the sauces left a little to be desired: the sambar didn’t reach the level of Pongal or Dosa Hutt Jersey City, and I’m not sure what the other sauce was supposed to be (it looked like a cross between sambar and coconut chutney).

Per my roommate’s desires, we indulged in a dessert of gulab jam.  At $3 for two balls of deep fried sweet cheese and flour in a heated honey sauce, I was rather nonplussed.  It wasn’t any better or worse than things I’ve been handed at the end of Indian meals for free, and the warm honey lent a rather sickly sweet flavor to the whole experience.

I can see why, in Midtown, Sukhadia would be a boon for vegetarians – the options for nearby cheap and interesting eats are few and far between, particularly if you’re not in walking distance of 9th Avenue.  For the rest of us, Sukhadia scarcely qualifies as a destination restaurant, and I think there’s better stuff to be found elsewhere.

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2 Comments

Filed under NYC

2 responses to “Sukhadia’s vegetarian fare mainly bettered elsewhere.

  1. Alok Desai

    I think it may have been what you ordered—palak paneer is a punjabi dish, and sukhadia’s is a gujarati restaurant–would suggest the following items: Bhel Poori/jainSev Poori/jain Samosa Chat Kachori ChatDahi Batata PooriPatra PlatterPav BhajiRagada PatticeSurti Undhiuor any of the daily specials. Go with these items and I think you will have a completely different experience and you will get to taste some things not served in most indian restaurants across the city. Another great gujarati restaurant is Vatan.

  2. That’s fair – my regional Indian experience is not large. Thanks for the info!

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