Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tasty Indian-Chinese Fusion at Tangra Masala

Hot, hot, hot Tangra masala chicken
The first time I tried Indian Chinese cuisine was in Bangalore, India, and I knew I was hooked. The next time I tried it was at Dalchini in South London. So when I discovered the rare hybrid cuisine in NYC at Tangra Masala in Queens, I was elated.

Often known as Hakka cuisine, the cooking style was developed by Chinese settlers in India, blending Chinese styled cooking with Indian ingredients. So expect to taste cumin, turmeric, ginger, garlic, yogurt, and of course, hot chilis. It's the most popular cuisine in India. I will start the campaigning for New York.

Don't judge Tangra Masala by its unassuming looks. You come here for the good eats as I recently did with my Ramen + Friends mates. Its tiny 42-seat dining room was full all night.

The crowd pleasing lolly pop chicken
Everyone apparently orders the famous lolly pop chicken ($6.95), six tantalizingly spicy drumsticks smothered in a paste of ginger, garlic, chili and coriander and deep fried. The results are perfect. Crispy, flavorful bites served with a spicy mayo. I should have ordered a second...

Much of the menu is designated as 'hot + spicy,' which is my weakness. I can't get enough. But if you fancy a mild dish, there is still plenty to choose from for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.

Manchurian tiger prawns served 'dry'
I opt for some of the Tangra classics. These runny nose, watery eye-inducing options don't disappoint. The Tangra masala chicken ($9.95) is not for the faint of heart. Fiery red means fiery hot, and the dish come either 'dry' or with 'gravy' (sauce). We ordered the 'dry' which was anything but (as a rule, I prefer dry). Moist, meaty chunks are coated in loads of scallion, ginger, garlic and chili. And the Manchurian tiger prawns ($13.95) are bold, spicy and succulent.

Super friendly owners Peter and Ina Lo, originally from Calcutta, India, have been running the budget friendly eatery since 2000. They also run a second, much larger branch called Tangra Asian Fusion in Sunnyside.

A Queens classic
No alcohol is served, but you'll be craving lots of water to cool down anyway. That is before you dig in for more.

87-09 Grand Ave.
Elmhurst, Queens
Sun - Thurs, noon - 10 pm
Fri - Sat, noon - 11 pm
718 803 2298
Cash only + halal
No alcohol is served

Tangra Masala on Urbanspoon

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