Make no mistake—the food at Tangra Asian Fusion is not actually fusion cuisine. Rather, it’s what you would get if you went out for a Chinese meal in India—take-out-style Chinese bent to Indian tastes. If you’ve always longed to kick up your lo-mein with some added spice and heat, Tangra is for you.
The lollypop chicken was an instant hit, with a deep-fried crunchy exterior contrasting nicely with the tenderly cooked meat inside. The accompanying creamy but tangy, red pepper and mayonnaise sauce gave the meat a bit of a kick and elevated the dish to both familiar, yet exotic, flavor.
(Full disclosure: Your humble reviewer, a vegetarian, owes the meaty portions of this review to the careful descriptions of her carnivorous dining companions.)
The vegetable pakoras (deep-fried vegetable fritters), which looked a bit like falafel with a similar crispy on the outside and a bit mushy and moist on the inside, were equally flavorful and dotted with peas.
But our favorite appetizer was the masala fries. The long, fried potato wedges were sprinkled with a bright red spice mixture, lending a sweet flavor to the typically savory side.
The main dishes fared equally well. Most can be cooked with a one of half-a-dozen seasonings, such as a hearty, sweet “Manchurian,” spicy “chili,” flavorful “basil” and our favorite “tangra masala,” a fiery red spice mixture that recalled tandoori-style spice rubs
The goat curry was also a popular addition to our table. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and flavorful, served in a thick, non-greasy gravy, similar to a stew.
The sizzling tiger prawns in Manchurian sauce were also a hit. The large, meaty crustaceans were cooked just right and served in a sizzling platter (literally still smoking when it arrived at the table) in a thick, brown sauce studded with scallions and garlic.
The sweet and sour tofu, a favorite of the vegetarians of the table, reminded us of sweet and sour chicken dishes served at any run-of-the-mill, take-out Chinese restaurant. Thick chunks of tofu and crisp celery, bell peppers and cauliflower stalks were sautéed in a mild, sweet flavorful sauce. Unfortunately, there were no hints of the Indian flavors that transformed many of the other dishes we tried into something a bit more special.
The ginger chicken fared better. The tender strips of meat were served in a thick gravy, seasoned with garlic and scallions. The ginger flavor, however, was milder than we had hoped.
If you’re curious to try what, for Indians, passes as Chinese food, head to Tangra for a fun, flavorful and novel meal that brings out the best flavors in both cuisines.
Additional reporting by Emily Holbrook, Leigh Remizowski and Sarah Kaufman
Tangra Asian Fusion, 39-23 Queens Blvd., Sunnyside, Queens, 718-786-8181, www.tangrafusionnyc.com