Location: Harlem, New York City, NY
Ambiance: Fine Indian Dining, Fusion Indian decor, Family Dining
Price Range: Moderately Expensive
Seat Availability: Reservation Required (a week in advance)
Parking: Street parking
Metro accessible: Yes
Worth it? SOMEWHAT
Chaiwali holds a special place in the heart of my friends. When I visited New York City, we decided to to go Chaiwali (my first time) for a meal. It was a cold winter night in New York City, and we were able to find reservation. As soon as I entered the restaurant, I was surprised by the ambience of the restaurant. The staff is entirely local, and I was impressed by that. The staff is quite knowledgable on Indian cuisine, which is good.
I ordered a Vegan Thali. Veganism is pretty much non-existent in India, but theirs is an interesting twist. Thali is a plate with a number of regional curries, rice, lentils, poppadums, and bread. The thali has all of these elements but at Chaiwali, they did not provide you with breads. In Indian cuisine, breads are quite important, and I was not satisfied by the quality of their breads, in fact, it is really not good.
The portions are huge. Keep that in mind when ordering food. The best thing at this restaurant is fried okra, and the second thing I liked here was asparagus and coconut side dish. My friend order a fish curry, which had a huge piece of the fish and hardly any sauce, and the sauce was not anything spectacular.
All in all, it is a nice place to go visit once in a while, but I would not consider this as a destination.