Restaurant Review: Bhojan

102 Lexington Avenue
(between 27th Street and 28th Street)
Kips Bay, Manhattan

Vegiboys Rating (3/4)

As yet another addition to our collection of visited vegetarian restaurants with an underlying religious foundation, Bhojan is part of the Kips Bay vegi-Indian epicenter. Swami Saraswati, the late spiritual leader to whom the restaurant pays homage, appears relatively benign, having founded the Divine Life Society, which in turn was served as the origin for many of the ubiquitous yoga ashrams worldwide.

The owners of Bhojan maintain a series of Indian restaurants throughout the northeast, three others in the city, and several in upstate New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.

From the street, Bhojan is inviting, but not overly inspiring. A counter for their Indian desserts occupies most of the front room, along with a few simple, modern tables for two. On our recent visit though, we were shepherded to the rear dining room. Cool, clean, and unique, the atmosphere in the back room shifts considerably while remaining comfortable. Being cut off from the street, the room has the mixed feel of a well-designed restaurant and a club lounge. Chandeliers made from glass bottles and a ceiling covered with suspended copper pots are a particularly nice touch that add a lot without making the space seem at all cluttered.

From the extensive cocktail menu, Brian requested a ginger lime martini (strong ginger taste, but a nice flavor overall). Our evening’s guest eater, Jen Jurek, chose a pleasant merlot. I went with a rose lassi that was phenomenal. The rose was not at all overpowering; the taste of rose was infused throughout, but without feeling like I was drinking perfume.

The menu had three thali options (each platter offering 7 elements), so we three decided to go with one of each, rotating the 21 different items between us. The thalis supposedly differed in the heat of their spices, but we were actually unable to discern such a pattern, with each plate seeming to simply be a wonderfully mixed variety of Indian standards and some less known items.

Our favorites: an entrée with an amazing use of cinnamon undertones; a dessert that looked like butter and tasted like a sweet, fragrant mousse; and a stew with a great blend of sweet and savory. Many of the dishes had a buttery flavor that added to their delectableness.

Some misses: the sprouts/beans contained some material that was hard enough to break teeth, rendering that item inedible. Pickles on each of the plates were meant as a palate cleanser, but were also dangerous to attempt; the flavor was absolutely astringent. Finally, the balls on the plate were powder dry, and required liberal addition of sauces from the other elements to swallow.

Despite these three misses, the plates overall were excellently composed, and the quantities of delicious food were more than adequate. With each individual dish coming in a relatively small portion, and with many of the dishes having a stewed consistency, having leftovers packed to go wasn’t a viable option, so we ate slowly; pacing ourselves to completion.

The staff were happy to support our slow approach; the service was friendly throughout the meal, guiding us in understanding the dishes, checking for feedback regularly, and providing us with some friendly discussion on the restaurant’s background at the end of our dining.

With the bill coming to $30 each, Bhojan was a great bargain for the experience. Good and plentiful food, coupled with a great atmosphere and strong service, makes Bhojan well worth visiting on your next trip to Little India.

Food (3/4)
Atmosphere & Service
Value (2.5/4)

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