Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!
Last Saturday, I was invited to sample the menu at Imli Urban Indian Food, a new Indian restaurant located on the Upper East Side. I was not sure what to expect, New York having so many Indian restaurants and was wondering what Imli Urban Indian Food would have that makes it stand out. Well, as you will see below, there, Chef Manuel Butler, crafted a very interesting menu inspired from street food, with dishes from all over India, made with a twist, but still staying true to its origin. Indian cuisine is meant for sharing but the fact that they propose several small plates (tapas style) makes the experience even more interesting.
Of course, on their menu, you will recognize dishes that people are always expecting in an Indian restaurant, like samosa, saag paneer or chicken tikka masala. But, for instance, the chicken tikka masala was slightly modified: the Chef added some smoked peppers (smoked in the restaurant's tandoor oven), adding a nice but subtle smokiness to the dish. Other ingredients such as clams or duck, rarely seen on a menu are also proposed.
Before I talk about the food, let's talk about the place that has one particularity that is priceless: their patio, a fantastic hidden gem in an already beautiful restaurant.
We started off our meal with some beverages. Jodi went with a delicious mango lassi (notice the absence of ice that is always appreciated especially when ice melts and waters down the lassi) and I went for one of their cocktails, the Kachumber Cooler (made with Hendricks Gin, St. Germain, lychee juice and cucumber), that was very refreshing and dangerous as not strong and so I could have drank a bunch of them.
Food wise, we got a nice array of dishes:
Crispy okra topped with toasted fennel and herbs:
Cauliflower tikki, their take on aloo tikki, these potato pancakes:
Shrimp Koliwada, that are perfectly cooked spicy battered shrimp in peppers and chili:
Kerala Beef marinated with yogurt, onion, pepper and cardamon:
Achari mushrooms, cooked in the tandoor, seasoned with garam masala and achari spice blend:
Then the classic Chicken Tikka Masala that was delicious:
That I ate with a sublime garlic naan instead of rice:
Imli lamb chops, cooked in the tandoor, perfectly cooked, moist inside and with a nice char:
Baby eggplants cooked with tomatoes in a not so spicy hot sauce (we asked our food mild):
Grilled duck served au jus: very good, as I mentioned before, I rarely saw duck on an Indian menu. The duck breast was delicious, although I would have liked it slightly less cooked and it reminded me a bit of a French dish.
Last were dessert: we got to try two perfectly executed Indian classic desserts. The first one was the gulab jamun, these milk balls that are deep fried and then dipped in a sugar syrup:
The second was the kheer or rice pudding:
Overall it was a succulent meal: the food was delicious and not spicy, with lots of flavors. I love the tapas concept that allows to try plenty of dishes. Imli Urban Indian Food stands out from lots of Indian restaurants in the city thanks to its elevated menu. I would for sure go back there!
Enjoy (I did)!
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Imli Urban Indian Food - 1136 First Ave. NYC NY 10065