Best Indian or Hakka to recommend to out of state visitors to NYC?

They’ve never had Indian, budget would be moderate.

TIA.

You might get more answers if you post this on the NYC board rather than Rest of NY/CT, but I would send them to Jackson Heights, for sure - the restaurants there offer much better bang for your buck than anything in Manhattan. Since they’ve never had Indian food, a buffet would allow them to sample lots of different things. Jackson Diner is the best-known, but we usually end up at Indian Taj. I think Jackson Diner only has the buffet at lunch, but Indian Taj offers it at dinner as well. Jackson Diner tends to have a larger variety of dishes and they do made-to-order dosas, if that’s something that would interest your friends. There’s also a huge variety of shops selling various Indian merchandise (groceries, clothing, jewelry, etc.) for a little after-dinner entertainment.

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Absolutely a buffet
If they have never eaten Indian food
they have no point of reference, if they
hate what they order off the menu they
will be stuck.

Well, they have a very knowledeable guide whose eaten a lot of it here in NY with me and who knows their tastes well, a son/brother.

Your point is a good one, and noted, but often, the buffet food is not close to the quality of that which is cooked freshly and brought to table, IME.

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Right. In theory buffets allow a wider choice. In practice they serve last night’s leftovers.

My favorite Indian at this point is Pippali in Curry Hill. 129 East 27th Street
(Between Park and Lexington).

The food is very good and fairly priced. Service is good and ambiance is very pleasant. Dinner for 2 will run about $125 - $135 with tax, tip, and a bottle of wine. Knock off about $45 if you go drink free. (That price includes 2 entrees and 2 starters.)

Standouts -

Chicken Hari Mirch - green chili and cilantro marinade, grape relish. skewered and tandoori grilled.

Bihari Gohst - marinated lamb shanks braised in onion, tomato and whole spices.

Lucknowi Seekh Kabab

Nawabi Kesari Murgh saffron-flavored grilled chicken

Chicken Tikka - Ginger, garlic and ground tandoori spices, cilantro mint chutney. Skewered and tandoori grilled.

Murgh tikka masala - Tandoori-grilled chicken in a cardamom and fenugreek tomato sauce.

A word about cost and another suggestion. NYC is a pricey place. Given that, $125 for dinner for 2 might be considered expensive. Prices are relative however. If you compare Pippali with Minetta Tavern, Cherche Midi, or Maialino it looks like a pretty good deal.

If the OP wants to cut back I’d recommend Masalawala on the Lower East Side. It’s about $30 - $40 cheaper than Pippali (again, for dinner for 2.) The food is pretty good although not at Pippali’s level. The atmosphere is more downscale - bright lights, cheaper decor. Service is well meaning but a little disorganized.

That said, the whole package is a number of steps above the cab stand / steam table places.

Masalawala
179 Essex St
New York, NY 10002
b/t Houston St & Avenue A

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold