Sunday, April 20, 2008

Beyond expectations at Spicy Mina

Chicken kurma and lamb curry, Spicy Mina's
For dinner with a friend after a long hiatus, I suggested going to Spicy Mina in Woodside, Queens, as I had read about the restaurant many times on the Outer Boroughs board of Chowhound and had been wanting to check it out.

Located on an isolated street corner next to a highway (and a quiet subway entrance), Spicy Mina deserves the praise it has been getting all over the boards. Both the chicken kurma and the lamb curry dishes we ordered were flavorful and noticeably lighter than many other versions (I didn't feel heavy and overstuffed after the meal, as is usually the case when I tackle this type of cuisine). The sauce coating the tender, dark-meat chicken in the kurma was buttery and rich—yet not overwhelming so—and with shreds of ginger and onion rounding out its creaminess, the dish actually seemed vaguely Chinese to me. The lamb curry was also good, though the meat was a bit tough and the flavor more standard. In comparison to the kurma, I found it well done but less interesting.
Aloo paratha, Spicy Mina's
We also got an order of the aloo paratha, which for me was the star of the meal. Like light, ethereal scallion pancakes that had been stuffed with potato, the mound of paratha wedges disappeared into our bellies long before we finished our two entrees. I was so pleased with the paratha that I debated ordering a second one, but with effort I kept myself in check.

The folks at Spicy Mina are attentive and gracious, too. When my dining companion didn't touch the mug of black tea he had ordered, our waiter noticed and inquired whether or not there was a problem with it. After my friend reassured him several times that there was nothing wrong, and that the tea just hadn't been the kind he had wanted, our waiter took it upon himself to take the charge off our bill. It was a nice gesture, one that we hadn't even asked for. That was my meal at Spicy Mina: I went in seeking just good, decent grub—but then, to my delight, received deliciousness beyond my expectations. And shouldn't it always be that way?

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