We're getting a taste of India by way of Australia with the opening of Babu Ji, the first NYC location of the Melbourne restaurant of the same name. Husband and wife team Jessi and Jennifer Singh have taken over a corner space on Avenue B at 11th Street and transformed it into a modern, sun-drenched eatery with a relaxed, convivial vibe. How relaxed? Customers pick their own bottles of craft beers bodega-style out of a fridge in the dining room.
A native of Chandigarh in the northern part of India, Chef Jessi says that farm-to-table was a necessity of his life and an ethos he'll maintain at the new restaurant. "Without electricity, you had to make everything fresh daily, for every meal," he explained, "It's our way of eating." He'll be cooking up street foods like Gol Gappa ($12), a fried puri snack stuffed with potato, tamarind and chickpeas, among other things. From the tandoor, Rainbow Trout ($16) charred whole with ginger and honey, Chicken ($18) with mango salsa and Paneer ($16) with ginger, pear and beetroot slaw.
Crocks of fragrant curries and other hearty dishes will also be on offer, like a Lamb Rogan Josh ($20)—leg of lamb seasoned with fennel seed, black cardamom, bay leaves and cloves—and the restaurant's popular Scallop Coconut Curry ($25) made with Eastern Long Island raw sea scallops, tumeric, mustard seed and a coconut milk-based curry. If you're dining in a group of four or more, opt to "Eat Like A Babu Ji" (slang for a colorful neighborhood character), with a chef's selection of entrees, curries, naan, rice and kulfi for $40 a person.
175 Avenue B; website