99 Lexington Ave (27th & 28th St)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 679-4232
Site: Visit the restaurant site
2nd Cuisine: Family Friendly
Area: Kip's Bay
A new addition to Curry Hill but a restaurant with a sixty-plus-year history, Kailash Parbat is named after a sacred Himalayan mountain. The food keeps the Sindhi traditions alive and is the first such dining spot in New York.
When India was partitioned in 1947, the Sindhi population was scattered and the cuisine largely kept going by home cooks. The restaurant's original owners fled Karachi and opened the first Kailash Parbat in what is now Mumbai. They added locations all over India ; this spot is the work of Amit and Gary Mulchandani, third generation descendants of the original owners, with co-owner Anika Malhotra.
The place is usually packed with diners of all ages, a good sign for a spot that has only been open since early April. It's entirely vegetarian with every item made in-house daily. About twenty percent of the clientele is non-Indian and for those, some menu interpretation may be required which is no problem as the staff is friendly and eager to help. Most menu offerings are always available but, if your heart is set on Sindhi curry, stick to weekend lunch, the only time it's offered.
A popular starter of Sev Batata Puri brings "regional" crackers topped with potatoes, chaat mix and chutney with a frizz of tiny noodles over all. It's good looking and delicious with just the right degree of spice. Diwani Handi is mixed veggies, largely carrots and cauliflower, in a bright green spinach sauce laced with ginger while Veg Bhurji means smaller bits of vegetables "cooked in spices" that tastes entirely different although both are equally good.
A chaat bar at the front enables diners to build crunchy crispy spicy snacks to their personal taste so the intensity of spice, amount of crunch, level of chutney sweet-tanginess and cooling yogurt can be customized. Chaat includes bite-size corn baskets with fresh corn and drizzled with spicy sauce, to bhel puri, puffed rice mixed with chickpeas and tamarind and cilantro chutney and dahi wada, a sort of savory cake. The menu also features specialties that have been favorites since the original restaurant opened in 1952 like chole bhaturas, puffy Indian bread with curried chickpeas and onions offering layers of flavors and bhee ki tikki that translates to lotus root with a tangy sauce, a top item in Sindhi cuisine. Other breads include a totally non-greasy paratha that deflates when torn into and is well worth ordering.
Much as I love Indian food, desserts have never been my favorite part of the meal but the kulfi, a denser, creamier version of ice cream, sprinkled with chopped pistachios, is a good finale. The restaurant serves a hot brownie with ice cream but that seems counter culture.
Overall, the food is terrific and reasonably priced. The modest setting with paper place mats and napkins, wooden floors and Indian graphics on one wall is very appropriate as this is an entirely unpretentious spot that emphasizes good eating in a relaxed atmosphere.
There is no liquor license but most folks here are more than happy with beverages from the list of thirst quenchers ranging from sweet or savory lassi, a yogurt drink served sweet or salted; to jaljeera, a cold lime-based drink, to masala chaas, buttermilk flavored with cumin and fresh coriander. All manner of teas, hot and cold are also on offer.
Update: Kailash Parbat announces Kosher status and full liquor license - 12/2/15
Review By: Mari Gold