It's been roughly a year since chef Jessi Singh brought Babu Ji to New York City. Since then, he's expanded his immensely popular Indian restaurant to San Francisco's Mission District, and, between shifts and cross-country trips, dined at some of downtown Manhattan's culinary gems. Here are his top picks.
NEW YORK CITY – After leaving Australia, where my culinary career started, my wife Jennifer and I moved to her hometown of New York City and opened Babu Ji in Alphabet City in 2015. (Editor's note: They're now in Union Square.) We now split our time between New York and San Francisco, where we recently opened a Babu Ji in the Mission District, and find ourselves at these places when we're in the Big Apple.
REMINDS ME OF INDIA
Punjab Grocery & Deli
114 E. 1st St.; +1-212-533-3356
The New York institution is where I go for chai, samosas, and an Indian newspaper or magazine.
1133 Broadway; +1-917-521-4012
A healthy place for lunch where you can build your own Indian-inspired bowl.
1655 Oak Tree Rd., Edison, NJ; +1-732-549-5051
The best Indian-Chinese food is about a 35-minute train ride from the city. I love their lamb, Hakka noodles, and chili chicken, and they do Indo-Chinese buffet on the weekend. Bonus: There's an old-school Indian movie theater down the street.
Often referred to as Little India, Jersey City is a taste of home located less than a ten-minute train ride from Manhattan, and is where I get all my Indian groceries. There are no-name places all over selling street food like dosas, and watch families come into town to do their shopping.
TASTES OF AUSTRALIA
162 Ave. A; +1-212-228-6900
An Aussie restaurant with a Southeast Asian focus. I love their coconut curry laksa and cocktails.
Two Hands Restaurant & Bar
251 Church St.; No phone number
Another great Aussie spot that serves healthy, clean breakfast dishes and great coffee.
29 East 2nd St.; +1-212-335-0114
Great Mexican food, margarita, and cocktails in the East Village. I'm fond of the fish tacos.
109 1st Ave.; +1-212-995-5278
Creative sushi rolls and the best omakase for just $40. Sit at the counter and let them look after you.
7 Spring St.; +1-646-370-6650
Great Thai food in Nolita. I go here for my favorite crab fried rice and roasted bone marrow satay.
25 Clinton St.; +1-646-678-3849
I love the spicy ramen. And I ask them to make it extra spicy for me.
10 W. 28th St.; +1-347-472-5660
It's the place to be: fun, happening, great cocktails. It's where I go after service.
225 Ave. B, 2nd Fl.; +1-917-656-6788
Another great place I like to go to after service at Babu Ji.
162 Orchard St.; +1-646-918-6835
A fun spot on the Lower East Side with a great cider program.
142 Orchard St.; +1-646-964-5624
This is where Jennifer and I go to relax and have a nice bottle of wine. I love the beef tartare and Jennifer enjoys the crudo.
SEE THE CITY
We take the family to Central Park Zoo and ride the carousel. It's great to see all the excited tourists taking pictures. It reminds me of when I was a tourist in New York.
Children's Museum of Manhattan
212 W. 83rd St.; +1-212-721-1223
Another great family-friendly spot. We have an annual membership, so we go here often.
WHERE TO STAY
171 Ludlow St.; +1-212-237-1776
When guests come to town, I recommend this spot on the Lower East Side. It has comfortable rooms and is close to practically everything.