After moving in together in Financial District, my wife Jun and I have ventured out to Brooklyn a lot more often for restaurant trips (it’s now actually closer for us to get to Carroll Gardens than Midtown West from our apartment). Living in downtown Manhattan also means it’s become a lot harder to get to Queens if there are any good restaurants there. At some point, we will probably need to make a pilgrimage to Elmhurst for all the wonderful Thai restaurants but I have to admit such trips present a significant logistical challenge. When I heard of a new Indian restaurant on the quieter side of Long Island City, however, I wanted to check it out so badly that on a recent Friday evening, I asked Jun to come to Grand Central Station so we can take the 7 subway train for a 15-minute trip from there. With all the accolades it has been getting since its opening, I had very high expectations for Adda. Did all of the dishes we tried work? Not so, but I feel that probably has to do with our decision-making because the kitchen’s approach to traditional Indian cooking is quite exciting.
The menu at Adda largely consists of snacks, grills, curries and biryani. Jun and I don’t shy away from the aggressive use of spicy elements, and we both agree that Adda doesn’t hold itself back for fear of alienating mainstream American diners who may not be able to handle the spiciness. For a snack to share, I highly recommend aloo chana chaat, a mix of chickpeas and chutneys with fingerling potato tots inside that displays a ton of bold flavor that may feel overpowering at first but it slowly grows on you until you realize the dish is gone in three minutes. On the other hand, we probably shouldn’t have ordered the lamb chops. The flavor from garam masala, ginger, garlic and yogurt was OK, but it was not potent enough to neutralize the meat’s gamy sensation. The best dish of the night, Jun and I both agreed, was the luchnow dum biryani dish with slow cooked goat, basmati rice and saffron baked below a layer of dough (which almost serves as a separate naan if you end up ordering one or more curry dishes). The goat was wonderfully cooked (although beware of the bones while you eat), and the saffron’s robust flavor added depth to the meat and rice that I couldn’t quite remember if I had experienced elsewhere at Indian restaurants in Manhattan. In case the spiciness of the biryani gets overwhelming, there is a side of yogurt and pomegranate that can offer you a brief relief. We were in slight disagreement over the butter chicken; I thought it was an above-average dish with curry flavor more complex than the average chicken tikka masala we would order for delivery, while Jun didn’t so highly of it. In retrospect, I wish we had ordered another curry dish instead of lamb chops to make our meal even better.
Getting a reservation at Adda could be difficult during prime times (and the restaurant’s relatively modest space was fully packed during our Friday dinner), so do plan ahead and book online in advance if possible. Adda doesn’t serve any alcohol, but they allow BYOB (I should’ve found this out before we set foot into the dining space as we didn’t have any beer or wine to wash down the food). The playful décor of the dining space, with scraps of Indian newspapers on the wall, is another plus to a casual, fun dinner at Adda. There are restaurants where I wish I had come with a bigger party or ordered different dishes for a better experience. While our dinner at Adda was a solid one, it is also one of those where I should’ve studied the menu a little better. Not sure when we will be back to LIC, but I’m already thinking of that next trip to Adda.
KenScale: 8.0/10 (Jun’s Score: 7.75/10)
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 7.5/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 31-31 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101
Telephone: (718) 433-3888