There are pockets of Indian restaurants throughout Manhattan, from Curry Hill on E. 27th Street to Little India on E. 6th Street, and even in Greenwich Village. East 58th Street is known to house the ritzier Indian restaurants, which admittedly I’ve previously shied away from. With the opening of Simon Indian Palace, I anticipate making this my new go-to restaurant pick.
Owner Nurul Amin opened Simon Indian Palace in early January, making his first mark in the NYC restaurant scene. The restaurant offers a number of traditional Indian dishes with the menu created by three highly experienced chefs: Executive Chef Jalal Bhuiyan of Baluchi’s and Amma, curry specialist Miraj Bhuiyan of Baluchi’s and Curry Kitchen, and tandoor master Shohag Alam of Mahal Kita and Nimbooda.
The dishes range widely to please everyone with all different tastes, but all have in common that the product and meats are purchased fresh from farmers markets on a daily basis to ensure quality ingredients.
When we entered, I noticed that the decor was modern with abstract celestial art pieces. The dim blue lights, meant to evoke the glow of the Indian Ocean, were a bit non-traditional and a bit jarring at first, making it seem like a trendy nightclub. However, as the evening went on and more people joined in the dining, the blue lights gave way to more normal lighting.
The menu is long and extensive. Even if you aren’t a newbie to Indian cuisine, it may seem pretty overwhelming. However, the menu is divided up into different sections with headers for easy navigation. Appetizers are divided up into vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, and the main dishes are sectioned by vegetarian, seafood, chicken, lamb, biryanis, and tandori specials. Fortunately for me, the manager M. Islam Kokan was there to greet us and help guide us.
My favorite part of any Indian meal is the naan. What’s not to love about delicious, fluffy bread? Simon Indian Palace offers a variety of flavor, from plain, onion, and garlic to cheese naan filled with creamy cottage cheese made in-house, Keema naan with minced lamb., and Kandhari naan stuffed with pistachios, raisins, almonds, and chopped red onions. While naan will always be my #1, change it up with some of their other signature rotis, poori, and paratha breads.
If you are sensitive to spiciness, it’s best to prepared by order a yogurt-based lassi beverage in advance. Most Indian restaurants serve traditional mango lassi, which is always my staple, but Simon Indian Palace also offers them in strawberry, rose, sweet, and salt. Try all of the novelty flavors! A full cocktail list is in development and will include playful cocktails like the Bombay Punch with Svedka Citron, Cointreau, lemon and cranberry juice, and triple sec, and Monsoon Wedding made with Skyy Melon vodka, Midori liqueur, topped with champagne. Beers will include both domestic and Indian options, including Taj Mahal and Kingfisher, in addition to a global wine list.
For vegetarian appetizers, hands down my favorite is the Lasooni Gobi. The cauliflower is pan-fried and crispy fully coated in a flavorful garlic sauce. You’ll want to have all your vegetables prepared this way from now on. Another popular starter dish is the Tandoori Vegetables, grilled with spices and creamy paneer cheese. Always a fan of chaat, we tried the Papri Chaat which is a mix of chick peas, potatoes, and crispy wafers all mixed with chutneys. Great to enjoy straight up or spoon it onto some naan.
For a diverse non-vegetarian starter, the restaurant recommends trying the Combination Platter with chicken malai kebab, chicken tikka masala, barrah kebab with lamb, and fish tikka marinated with ginger, garlic and yogurt. This gives you the opportunity to taste a little bit of everything. Also recommended are the Masala Crab Cakes filled with fresh crab and potatoes with the unique addition of Indian seasonings of garam masala, lemon and mint, served with a creamy cilantro-yogurt sauce.
For the entrees, it is definitely helpful to first see if you want a vegetarian option. Simon offers a number of standout vegetarian entrées, including the Kadai Paneer, homemade cheese in a red gravy with freshly ground spices, capsicum and onion, and well as the chef’s special Saag Paneer, a classic dish of spinach purée paired with fresh, housemade cottage cheese.
For the non-cheese route, I ordered the Dal Makhani, a stew of black lentils and kidney beans simmered together with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and ginger. The black lentils are said to help sooth the stomach and are high in protein. All dishes come with heaps of delicious rice as an added bonus.
The second entree we tried was in the seafood category, the Goan Salmon cooked in coconut curry. The salmon was soft and tender, and the curry was flavorful but on the milder side due to the coconut. A stark contrast from the extra spicy vindaloo dishes that I typically order, but an equally delicious option. Another recommended seafood dish is the Salmon Steak, two juicy pieces of grilled salmon filet with fragrant spices and mint, served alongside fluffy mint rice and a decorative bell pepper filled with sautéed fresh vegetables.
There is certainly not a shortage of chicken options with more than 10 chicken entrees. You can’t go wrong with their Simon Special Chicken featuring chicken stewed in a flavorful sauce of signature spices, herbs, nuts and yogurt with tomato rice. The Chicken Chettinad is a South Indian delicacy, prepared with tomato, onions, garlic, ginger mustard seeds, curry leaf and coconut.
For a hearty lamb dish, try the Tandoor-fired Rack of Lamb special marinated with Indian spices served with potatoes and peppers. The Biryani rices are offered in vegetarian, meat, and seafood options, so you will have even more choices to make there.
I thoroughly enjoyed each and every dish, and I could only think about what I would try during my next visit. While the dinner menu is a la carte, they are also offering a weekday lunch buffet with over 15 different options. They also have combination lunch plate options for dining in for lunch, or take-out boxes if you’re on the go.
Simon Indian Palace
230 East 58th Street
btw. 2nd and 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Hours of operation:
Mondays through Thursdays: 11 AM to 3:30 PM, and 5:00 PM to 10:30 PM
Fridays and Saturdays: 11 AM to 3:30 PM, and 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Sundays: 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM, and 5:00 PM to 10:30 PM