Location: 1136 1st Street, New York, NY 10065
Best Dish: The curried pork belly was a fascinating culinary experience. The dish was well executed with rich complex flavors and just a little heat. Our second favorite was the Fried Okra. The peppery flavor of Indian spices and the crispiness of the Okra made this an addictive appetizer.
Overall: A new restaurant offering a fresh take on elevated Indian cuisine with European and American influences.
Beef and pork are rarely found on an Indian Restaurant menu, restauranteurs, Mervyn Winston, Ram Reddy, and Vincent Albin, hope to change that with their new eatery Imli Urban Indian Cuisine. Located on the Upper East Side, Imli Urban Indian Cuisine has a carefully curated menu of traditional Indian flavors, influenced by European techniques and presentation. The restaurant blends in just a little All-American taste with their two specials: the Spicy Imli Burger and Tandoori Pizza. The décor is sophisticated and modern with concrete tables and plush seating against exposed white brick and patterned wood walls. In addition to its main dining area and bar, the restaurant also has an enclosed patio with skylight, lush green plants and contemporary wicker furnishings.
This appetizer is Imli’s take on Aloo Tikki, a traditional potato appetizer. For Imli’s version, the potato was replaced by cauliflower which is often used as a low carb potato alternative. The look and spice mixture is the same as the original version, but the cauliflower adds a surprising new texture to the dish and an earthy flavor.
The seared scallops are topped with fennel, coriander, and a light fragrant curried lemon butter. The scallops were superb, their sweetness was balanced well with the buttery curry and enhanced by the fresh lemon flavor.
Even if you’ve never liked Okra you will enjoy this crispy snack. The Okra is cut into thin strips, fried until crisp and tossed in an assortment of herbs and spices.
Imli Urban Indian Cuisine pays homage to the European colonists of India with their version of a classic Scotch Egg. Originally the Scotch Egg is made with a soft boiled egg that is wrapped in a sausage then battered and deep fried. Imli’s variation replaces the sausage with a savory lamb meatball and drizzled it with a spicy sauce.
Minced beef is marinated in yogurt with onions peppers and cardamom. The end result is a moist, juicy meat dish that is well seasoned and delicious. This was spicy but only because we requested it. All of the dishes can be adjusted to meet your spice tolerance. If you’re going for the spicy version we recommend having it with the garlic naan. The bread brings the spice to a manageable level without sacrificing any flavor.
For this curry, Imli uses tender pork belly. The flavor is peppery but not overly spicy with notes of cinnamon and fennel.
Saag Lamb may not be the most photogenic of dishes but its flavors are divine. The spinach is based sauce is well seasoned and works well with the tender bites of lamb.
Gulab Jamun and Rasmalai
Indian desserts can be cloyingly sweet but the desserts at Imli are palatable and expertly prepared. The pastry is light and delicate with a mild vanilla flavor. Rasmalai is the Indian equivalent to cheesecake. Unlike its Italian sister, this cheesecake is served without a crust floating in sweetened cream. After a heavy meal, this dish offered a smooth sweet finish to our dinner.
Indian Summer & Imli- Rita
Made with Champagne, peach schnapps, and mango juice, this cocktail is a refreshing option with an effervescent finish. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys sweet fruity cocktails. For a sweet beverage with a spicy kick, we recommend the Imli-Rita. This drink is made with Tequila Avion, Grand Marnier, Tamarind and the glass is rimmed with a salted Indian spice mix. The flavor is fruity but strong with a spicy finish.
The mojito gets an Indian makeover with the addition of jaljeera a fragrant drink mix that includes a blend of exotic spices. This is the drink to have at the start of a good meal and Jaljeera is traditionally used to jolt the taste buds and awaken the palate.
With only two months in operation, Imli Urban Indian Cuisine is the new kid on the block serving up traditional flavors in a newly accessible way. Their menu goes beyond the usual Indian fare without sacrificing flavor or straying too far from expectations. Imli is located at 1136 1 st Avenue (between 62nd & 63rd Streets), New York, NY, 10065. ImliRestaurant.com, (212) 256-0073. Available for delivery and takeout. Hours of operation are Mon-Sun noon-11 p.m. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from noon-4 p.m. Cocktail hour is Monday-Friday 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.