New York City’s hipster Indian restaurant boom continues — arguably kickstarted by the beleaguered Babu Ji — this time with Old Monk, a “contemporary Indian soul food” restaurant from Akbar and Dawat founder Sushil Malhotra that opens today.
The contemporary part of that description is played out in highly-saturated foods ripe to be Instagrammed, with seasonal ingredients and bright flower garnishes that seem to serve little purpose other than make the food look good in photos. The menu references dishes from all of India with fish curry from Goa as well as tandoori chicken and sindhi kadhi from the North. Executive chef and co-owner Navjot Arora is behind the menu, which is in full below.
A liquor license is still on the way, but consulting sommelier Kristie Petrullo–Campbell (Eleven Madison Park, Jean Georges, Craft) has a beer and wine list waiting in the wings.
The 55-seat space, designed by Tarik Currimbhoy (Junoon), still evokes the Babu Ji style, with large photos of men hanging on the walls, and a beverage fridge, though the colors are more muted shades of red than Babu Ji’s bright turquoise.
Since Babu Ji opened in this space in June 2015 — it since shut down due to lawsuits and reopened under new ownership in Union Square — Indian food in New York City has seen a major resurgence. This year alone, Rahi, Badshah, and aRoqa have opened, plus Paowalla and Indian Accent last year.
Old Monk joins the group today, and is now open Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m. Weekend brunch will come soon.