Rare Discoveries from Gujarat at Bhojan

Bhojan is doing a few things most of New York's Indian restaurants do not, and its dhokla, the steamed lentil cake from Gujarat, is as good an example as any. bigjeff finds it the freshest he's had, perfectly cooked and served with two sauces and a crunchy raw mung-bean salad.

Opened around a month ago, Bhojan is part of a mini-empire that includes Dhaba and Chola, among other northern-leaning Indian places. Here the focus is slightly different. Besides highlighting the underrepresented cuisine of Gujarat, this all-vegetarian restaurant makes its own sweets and also offers a lineup of chaat and other small plates (including chili cheese toast reminiscent of the hound-approved snack at Mumbai Xpress in deepest Queens).

A good one-stop introduction to the menu is a $16 thali combination meal: Gujarati, Punjabi, or "ashram"-style, a Buddhist-friendly variation that omits onion and garlic. jeff describes a generous and diverse feast that "kicks the ass of any thali I have ever had." The ashram version included, among other things, an amazingly smooth and tasty achar (pickle), an eggplant-potato dish "cooked so perfectly I can't even understand," and four or five starches (rice, breads, dhokla). Lau pronounces the Gujarati thali "awesome," with too many dishes to list; "everything was fresh, light and good," he adds—"felt good after eating here." There's also an $8 lunch thali, which ChiefHDB considers a good deal but sugartoof found a tad meager.

The vibe is energetic and the décor modern and bright, including photo-friendly spot lighting over the tables, so "get your gorillapods out," bigjeff advises.

Bhojan [Murray Hill]
135 Lexington Avenue (between E. 27th and 28th streets), Manhattan
212-213-9615

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