>> Taste of Kerala Kitchen | Eat the World NYC

06 January 2010

Taste of Kerala Kitchen


[UPDATE: Name change to Taste of Kerala Kitchen]

Queens is a freaking massive borough. It's amazing to think that the long ride to the last stop on the F train only gets you maybe 60% of the way to the border with Long Island. To get to places like Floral Park, a painstaking bus transfer is necessary in a land where people mostly have their own vehicles. Kerala kitchen is located one and a half blocks west of the border between 718 and 516, a place no longer known as New York City, but on these blocks at least, no different at all.

After our long journey (which in this case was actually by car but still seemed arduous), it would have been nice to arrive with warm greetings and smiles, but we seemed to be disturbing them more than anything, despite the fact that the place was 95% empty. On this frigid evening though, the tropical balminess and backwater attitude of the state of Kerala in southern India did not seem to register.

I could not help but think I was in a hair salon with all the rounded shiny domes of the lunch buffet table in a row along the wall. I wanted old ladies in curlers to be sitting under them the whole time we dined.

Regardless of the general feeling of intrusion, the most disappointing part about the restaurant was the lack of many dishes on the menu, and no way to know what was actually available. A friend who recently visited Kerala was looking for a few specific things but found them all to be unavailable this day.

What we did eat though, was delicious, and made the trip worth the time. We ordered many different types of breads to accompany our dishes, the first of which was the padavalanga ($8, above) which somehow translated to "snake gourd" in English. Listed in the vegetarian section, it still came with fish within, so don't say you haven't been warned. The soupy mixture was the most flavorful of our selections, and was the best item to use the bread on. The blend of spices and peppers got us off and running.

The beef deep fry ($10, below) looked like it would be dry and possibly tough, but the pieces were both juicy and tender, topped with raw onions, and sufficient enough for the five of us all to have a few bites. The porotha bread worked even better than a fork and spoon for shoveling it in.

The fish curry ($10, below) was also full of flavor, spice, and richness. A few bones were scattered here and there, but for the most part it was entirely meaty, almost to the point of seeming like something more on land than at sea.

The table also ordered chicken 65 ($10) despite my warnings of it coming from another distinctly different subgroup of Indian cuisine. It was unsurprisingly boring, quite a bit overcooked, but did come with tasty cashews and white raisins, something I had never seen before from this bright red dish.

The love-it-or-hate-it dessert payasam also was served, a sweet pudding with thin noodles and ginger that has a very creamy consistency. I find it a very refreshing palate cleanser, but not everyone at the table enjoyed it.

The moral of the story for any Keralan food connoisseur is to call ahead and ask what is on offer each day, but for the layman such as myself, the meal was completely satisfying. I would love to go back again and try more, especially a fish thoran and some mango curry.

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Taste of Kerala Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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