I had lunch for the first time at Maharaja the other day, an Indian dive on 45th st. btw. Lexington & 3rd. Maharaja, you say? I’ve walked down that street many times and never seen a place called Maharaja… Well, that’s because the awning doesn’t say Maharaja. That’s not memorable… and it’s a little too “nice” a name- especially for a dive like this. I don’t care what the take out menu says, I’ve always called it by the name on the awning- “Hurry and Tasty Curry”.
How could you not? It’s a perfect name for this place. Say what you want about grammar, reading the name, you understand what kind of restaurant it is. During lunch, the food is all in steam plates, so it’s “hurry”, and a lot of the food is pretty tasty (I’m not going to vouch for all of it). Maybe it was meant to be “Hurry and Taste THE Curry” but the guy who made the sign heard them wrong. To add to the confusion, Menupages has two listings for the place, at the same address (133 E. 45th St.), Maharaja (which gets four stars) and Hurry & Tasty Curry (which gets 3 1/2 stars). As far as I can tell, the owners of Hurry & Tasty Curry used to own an Indian restaurant on 44th St. called Maharaja (which was half a star better then the only place they own now- which is on 45th St. and has a giant awning that say Hurry & Tasty Curry).
Who knows… but either way the sign says everything you could ever need to know about this place. It’s fast, tasty and it is clearly authentic (because these people are too busy making good Indian food to care about English grammar).
What they’ve got, pictures and the +/- after the jump…
I didn’t think much of this place walking by it. The food is all in steam trays behind the counter in the back, and you can choose from any number of combo platters served from 11am to 4pm. All the combos come with basmati rice, green salad & nan. The sign on the counter says the combo comes with papadums as well (delicious chips made from lentils), but I think you have to specifically ask for them. $5.99 will get you 2 veggie choices. $6.99 will get you Curry or Tandoori Chicken and 1 veggie option, and $7.99 gets you Chicken Tikka Masala or Lamb curry with 1 veggie option.
I went with the lamb curry and one veggie option. I’m a big fan of lamb, and their lamb curry looked pretty good. For veggies the choices were dal (lentils), saag (spinach), cumin potatoes, or eggplant. I usually love saag, but I have found that most saag at cheap Indian buffets and take out restaurants in Midtown is watery- so I went with the eggplant, which turned out to be an excellent choice. The lamb was also much better then I expected… which is really the key to enjoying any cheap Midtown Lunch. Keep your expectations low, and it’s hard to be disappointed.
The one thing that lived down to my low expectations was in fact the saag. I tried my friend’s saag, and it was watery. You probably would want to stay away from it anyway considering the current state of spinach affairs (although this saag tasted like it was made from canned spinach). The naan was a big enough piece, and tasted good enough. If you order the combo, make sure to hit up the fridge along the left hand wall. Inside is where you get your raita (yogurt sauce), green sauce and free salad. They also have little cups of diced onion, and hot peppers if you like your food spicier.
All it all, it was a great lunch. More expensive then the Indian Cart on 52nd & Park, but the quality of food is better (and you get naan). Some days the few tables they have are full, so you may have to take it to go- but other days I’ve seen the place practically empty. It’s a crap shoot. If you work in the area, and are looking for good, cheap Indian food that’s both “hurry” and “tasty”- look for the awning and you won’t be disappointed (provided your expecations are not that high…)
- Like the awning says, it’s fast and tasty
- It’s reasonably cheap for the quality of the food
- It’s not the greatest Indian food you’ve ever had, but if you keep your expectations low, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
- There are similar places in different areas of Midtown that are better (Minar), and buffets that are not that much more expensive (Rangole)
- There’s an Indian Food Truck on 53rd and Park where you can get the same vegetarian combo for $2 less (but they serve chappati instead of naan as the bread)
- It’s small and seems a little dirty
Maharaja aka Hurry & Tasty Curry, 133 E. 45th St., 212-682-7963