The team behind critically acclaimed Indian restaurants Rahi and Adda is gearing up to bring a new restaurant to the Lower East Side later this year.
Dhamaka is on track to open this summer within the new Essex Street Market at the corner of Delancey and Essex streets, one of two full-service restaurants planned for the revamped food hall. Here, owner Roni Mazumdar is set on creating a menu that’ll showcase the everyday foods that people eat on the streets or at home in India — like meat served on the bone and fish served whole. The restaurant will open after the food market itself, both of which are a part of the massive, multi-block Essex Crossing development.
Similarly to new Long Island City restaurant Adda — where the fare is inspired by his and chef Chintan Pandya’s hometowns and other regional cuisines throughout India — the food at Dhamaka will pull from food all over the country. Dishes could include street snacks like pav bhaji from Mumbai or a lesser known curry they’ve eaten at someone’s house, Mazumdar says.
“Our goal is to cherry pick the experiences that have really made an impact in both of our lives and share that to food,” Mazumdar says.
It’s part of a larger goal from the restaurateur and chef Pandya to “demystify” Indian cuisine in NYC, which Mazumdar thinks has been largely “one dimensional” in the U.S. He argues that most restaurants either focus on northern or southern Indian cuisine, while ignoring the myriads of regions in between. Plus, many Indian restaurants in America add Westernized dishes like chicken tikka masala to their menus, a dish Mazumdar had never heard of in India.
“There’s a hunger in New York for authenticity, and that’s the direction we’ll be exploring,” he says.
Dhamaka will be a lot more casual than his upscale restaurant Rahi. The space is supposed to feel very much a part of the surrounding market, which will also include the 700-foot-long food hall Market Line and dozens of vendors on a lower level. While market-goers will be able to access the restaurant from the inside, the restaurant will also have its own street entrance.
Dishes will be priced below $25, and both lunch and dinner will be served, with breakfast potentially added later. The space will fit about 60 diners, including a 10-seat bar, and the decor be colorful, with “industrial-chic” touches, Mazumdar says.
The restaurateur has been busy shaping NYC’s view on Indian cuisine in recent years. In 2017, he opened Rahi, bringing on Pandya, who previously cooked at the Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Junoon. The restaurant was celebrated in the Times for its “exciting” Indian-fusion cuisine.
And last year, Mazumdar opened Adda, where he and Pandya pivoted to homey food made strictly with Indian ingredients. It’s earned critical praise from Eater and the Times and has been the biggest new Indian restaurant opening in the city for some time.