Saturday, April 12, 2008

Oh lolly lolly

Scratch another must-sample-before-moving-to-California restaurant off of the list - Wednesday night we hit Tangra Masala, which serves Indian-style Chinese food. In much the same way that this country has added its own flavor to Chinese (and Italian and Japanese, etc) cuisine, so have the Indians, and in Elmhurst, Queens one can sample this fusing of tastes. (Although one does have to wonder if American tastes have filtered into Indian Chinese served in New York, making it New York Indian Chinese...)

Anyway, here's what we had...

Lolly Pop Chicken - pieces of fried chicken that look a little bit like lolly pops, with some sort of Thousand Island like dipping sauce.

The verdict: I'm ashamedly not a huge fried chicken fan, and that's what this basically amounted to. It really didn't taste particularly Indian or Chinese to me. But Daniel and our friend Alex seemed to enjoy the pieces, especially after they dipped the lollies in hot sauce.

Steamed vegetable momos - served with an almost salsa like sauce

The verdict: I'm curious about calling these momos, as I thought momos were a purely Tibetan phenomenon. Although, I suppose Tibet is at the crossroads of China and India. These were smaller than Tibetan momos that I've had and shaped slightly differently. The noodle part was a little dry, but the filling was well-flavored and the hot sauce was delicious. I even ate a spoonful of it by itself.

Tangra Masala Pan fried noodles - crunchy fried noodles, made mushy with lots of vegetables and a tomato based sauce on top

The verdict: the loser of the night for me. While I liked the crispness of the veggies, the sauce tasted like Chef Boyardee. On the recommendation of the waiter, we also tried the Tangra Masala chicken, which I also wasn't wild about. There was definitely something very Uh-oh Spaghetti-O's about it (which when I made the comparison, launched an enjoyable conversation about advertising, so there was a bright side.)

Goat Manchurian - pieces of goat with really fragrant spices

The verdict: One of my favorites. At Tangra Masala, you can order most of the dishes either dry or with gravy. Although my instincts would have led me to gravy, on the insistent recommendation of some chowhounders, we went dry for everything but the chicken Tangra Masala. This turned out to be a good call. Not having the gravy really allowed the flavor of the spices in the other dishes to emerge really nicely.

Chili Chicken - pieces of chicken fried almost sweet and sour style (without the sauce) with a spice mix similar to the goat.

The verdict: I almost never eat little morsels of Chinese style fried chicken, even though I used to love sesame chicken and the like, so this was a real treat. I wish it had been a little spicier though.

Gobi manchurian - lightly breaded pieces of cauliflower with cumin and some other lovely spices.

The verdict: as far as I'm concerned, the winner hands-down. Really unique tasting. Wonderful texture. The breading was so well seasoned, but you didn't lose the crunch or the consistency of the cauliflower at all. Fantastic.

All in all, it was a good night. I can't say I was blown away by the meal, but I'm very glad that we finally made it over there.

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