The double parked taxi cabs are clues – forget the over enthusiastic Yelp and Trip Advisor writers and their millions of stupefying food photographs. This place is ‘underground hot’.
While an undergraduate, I drove a taxi for years and years and I’ve lived the maxim that if you want plenty of good value food with adequate, clean surroundings, go to where the cab drivers eat. I caught several of them yesterday sitting alone, stone still, minding their plates. It will be different next time I go because I now want to engage – I really want to talk to these calm, hard-working drivers. What do they know about New York City? I need to find out.
Haandi’s lower level is a buffet only, and the upper, à la carte. Downstairs, use a fresh, clean plate for each round of overeating; throw ideas of portion control out the window. No waiter service up or down but there is water service and soda for sale. The buffet is standard ‘Indian’ buffet fare but the food tastes fresh, especially the cauliflower, perhaps because the turnover is so high. Items include Biryani, Chicken Tikka Masala, Muragh Chan, Palak Paneer, Alpp Tikki, sweat-inducing hot pickle, and Rice Pudding.
This section of lower Lexington Avenue centers the cluster of Indian sub-continent shops spewing clouds of food and spice fragrances—a singular destination.