Grub/Spirits Restaurant Reviews — 29 November 2010
A Restaurant Review: Royal Bangladesh Indian Restaurant

Royal Bangladesh Indian Restaurant
93 First Avenue near East 6th Street, East Village, (212) 674-6209
Getting There: 6 to Astor Place, F,M to Second Avenue

New York City is a multi-cultural mecca when it comes to food.  There are virtually thousands of places that serve Indian food—some great, some gross. It’s important to sift through the innumerable options and find a restaurant that serves tasty, reasonably priced Indian food for a memorable meal. First Avenue has one of the highest concentrations of Indian eateries in the city and for a unique, and taste of the neighborhood we decided to give Royal Bangladesh Indian Restaurant a try.

Upon our arrival, we first noticed that the location of the restaurant was somewhat peculiar.  For some reason, there are three other Indian joints stacked right on top of each other, all of which share a staircase and a very similar appearance.  We were also treated to men in suits calling out to us to eat at the place they work for, like carnival barkers.

Try your best to avoid all of these unneeded stimuli from the yelling employees, as your destination is located in the bottom left corner.  Entering the restaurant we were immediately overwhelmed in a good way, by a multitude of flashing Christmas style lights, which set the tone for an entertaining night of dining.

The Royal Bangladesh does not have a liquor license.  But in its place they have a very friendly BYOB policy, and the restaurant is conveniently located next to a market with a full selection of beers.  The market is also run by an Indian family so they have a fine selection of brews that are indicative of Indian culture.  We liked the six pack of King Fisher, arguably the most popular beer in India. It goes great with literally everything on the menu. Wine may also be purchased close by as well.

The night we dined at Royal Bangladesh, we had a big group which was an excellent way to experience Indian food- especially at a place as lively as this one.  Each person can order a dish, and it can be passed around and shared by the group. We came with some favorites and the knowledgeable server gave us some great advice as well.

Naan bread is an excellent way to start off a meal of Indian food. It can be ordered plain, with cheese filling, or garlic seasoned. It’s great on its own or when dipped into any saucy dish. We recommend trying the garlic naan, and dipping it into Dahl Shaag . Dahl Shaag is a delightful creamy hot dish made up of spinach and lentils. It was an excellent addition to our table, and it is also ideal for anyone in your party who may be a vegetarian.

Tandoori chicken is a staple of Indian culture and every restaurant puts their own spin on it.  Literally five minutes after the order was taken, the food arrived. The Tandoori chicken came out on a steaming serving plate and was preceded by its alluring aroma coming from the kitchen in waves.  The taste did not disappoint at all. When ordering any chicken dish, one worries that it will come out dry and flavorless. Luckily this was not the case at Royal Bangladesh- it was well seasoned throughout and proved incredibly juicy.

For the patron with a tongue for spicy foods, try the chicken or vegetable Vindaloo.  Yes, the heat may be intense, but the flavors are bold and quite enjoyable.  You can drink some of that beer you bought next door to help simmer the sizzling fire in your mouth.  Rice lovers rejoice, as every dish comes with a large serving of traditional Basmati rice.  This is a perfect side dish for anything on their extensive menu.

The servers at Royal Bangladesh were attentive to the utmost.  There is literally an army of them. Water glasses were promptly refilled and finished dishes were cleared away post haste. These gentlemen are attentive without acting like hawks and aggressively trying to turn over tables. Even though the place is small and can get quite busy, the staff will allow you to linger for an appropriate time after your meal is finished so you can finish the rest of the alcohol you brought in.

With so many Indian restaurants in town, and with four of them stacked literally on top of each other, it is important to be an informed consumer when choosing the right place for you to dine.  That is why we recommend Royal Bangladesh, as a solid and fun choice for traditional Indian fare.  Be it a first date or a birthday party with a large group, they will accommodate you, and make you feel welcome. In a day and age of quick service, with fast table turnovers, that is truly saying a lot.

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