“Babu Ji is not your typical Indian joint,” or at least that’s what the couple behind one of New York City’s hottest Indian restaurants claim. Jessi and Jennifer Singh, the team behind three critically acclaimed eateries in Australia, opened their East Village Indian restaurant last June.
At Babu Ji everything from the friendly staff to the self-service beer fridge makes you feel at home, and that’s exactly how the owners want it to be. The name Babu Ji derives from the Hindi word for “mayor of the block”. You know that guy who everyone seems to know and love?That guy is Babu Ji. Babu Ji looks over his space with pride and dignity. Framed in the dining room and on the front of the menu, he is dressed with a turban on his head, aviator frames on his face, and a furry white mustache to boot.
The food does a great job of making you feel at home as well. Dressed up and brightly colored, all the dishes are presented with finesse and care. The menu rotates seasonally and features Indian street foods, tandoori specialties and curry pots. Most of the flavor combinations derive from Jessi Singh’s childhood village in northern India while some bright additions were picked up in Australia. In proper East Village fashion, the menu is complemented by a fully stocked fridge of craft beer and an expertly curated wine list.
While at Babu Ji, Kendra and her husband enjoyed the tasting menu. The tasting menu includes the chef’s selection of a variety of appetizers, curries, naan, rice and kulfi dessert and is paired with wine or beer. A few of the highlights included the yogurt kebabs, the gol gappa and the naan. The yogurt kebabs are small yogurt-based croquettes spiced with ginger and green chili and served over a bright and flavorful beetroot ginger sauce. The presentation was as exquisite as the taste. The gol gappa is quite possibly India’s most beloved street snack. The puffed rice pockets are filled with a spicy, sweet and tangy surprise. And of course, the naan! No northern Indian meal would be complete without a selection of naan, Indian bread that pairs well with pretty much everything. The naan at Babu Ji is out of this world good! Fluffy, flavorful and overall, fantastic. If you are curious about Indian flavors or are already a lover of Indian cuisine, book a table at Babu Ji!
Babu Ji, 175 Avenue B, East Village