Chowhounds have learned over the years to avoid East Sixth Street's Curry Row of undistinguished—and largely indistinguishable—Indian restaurants. Malai Marke, which opened around New Year's, may give them reason to return. It's the latest venue from Indian-dining mogul Shiva Natarajan, and like his others (including Bhojan and Dhaba), it offers a pan-Indian menu with a special focus on a couple of selected regions.
Here the emphasis is on specialties from Goa and tandoor-grilled meats from Punjab like juicy, nicely spiced Patiala lamb kebabs. "Dishes like this are why I go to Indian restaurants," Bob Martinez says. Other good bets, he adds, are chicken achari (marinated in pickling spices) and seekh kebab (minced lamb on skewers). The Goan choices include several variations on vindaloo, chicken xacuti (with roasted coconut, peanuts, and poppy seeds), shrimp caldeen (with coconut and kokum), and fish ambotik, a hot-and-sour tamarind curry—no word on these yet from hounds.
Bob—who reported approvingly on Chote Nawab, another newish restaurant from Natarajan—adds that the arrival of Malai Marke sends a message to its neighbors, "those tired and mediocre places" that line Sixth Street: "They’re going to have to get better fast or have their business take a real hit."
Malai Marke [East Village]
318 E. Sixth Street (between Second and First avenues), Manhattan
Photo from Malai Marke