Restaurant: Seva – 30-07 34th Street, Astoria, NY
To me, all Indian food tastes the same. Either I don’t have a refined palate able to taste the delicate intricacies of each dish or all Indian food is made with the same few ingredients. In hopes not to get my entire Indian readership angry at me (oh so many of you), I’m going with the former.
Seva is not a large place. The restaurant consists of a room fitting about 10 tables with a very small bar in one corner. The kitchen appears to be in the basement as food magically appears at the top of a set of stairs leading down below the main floor. I often categorize Indian restaurants as having an unmistakable smell, but Seva, to my surprise, was void of this and I didn’t come out of the restaurant smelling like my food – this made me happy.
- Lamb Seekh Kabob: minced lamb skewers, black cardamom, garlic, grilled
- Roti: whole wheat nan, tandoor oven baked
- Chicken Tikka Masala: clay oven cooked white meat, light cream tomato sauce
- Lamb Vindaloo: fiery sauce, dried Kashmiri red chilis, tamarind
The Lamb Seekh Kabob, our appetizer, wasn’t great. It did have a lot of different flavors but was extremely dry. I’m not sure if this is how it was supposed to be but I wasn’t a fan. The main courses – Chicken Tikka Masala (an Indian food staple) and Lamb Vindaloo – were very good but due to my ignorance of Indian food, I couldn’t really tell whether they were outstanding or middle-of-the-road. I will say that the chicken had a lot of flavor and was cooked perfectly – very moist and not overcooked at all. The lamb was the exact same way. The sauce in the Lamb Vindaloo was, as expected, extremely spicy and I found myself nearly sweating while eating it. An overly spicy dish such as this does prevent you from really tasting all the flavors that lie within but I happily devoured my meal. The nan was a perfect accompaniment to dip in the leftover sauces.
The food at Seva was very good. However, I can’t tell you the difference between good and bad Indian food so my opinion is probably not worth much here. I can say that Seva has been noted by numerous people as one of the top Indian restaurants in the area and with inexpensive prices and an overly friendly and enthusiastic staff, I can see why people continue to come back. I loved the personal attention we were given while we ate and if we needed anything a waiter was quickly scurrying over to our table to offer his assistance. On our way out the manager shook both of our hands enthusiastically thanking us for dining with them – this stands out in my mind as something you don’t get at many restaurants anymore. The food was average (I think) but the personal touch and service are going to keep me coming back.