Virgin's On Top at Bunny Chow

The Lower East Side greets a South African restaurant

The mains run between $10 and $18, and appetizers average $8—fair enough, although the wine list could use some bottles in the $20 range, especially since you can find good bargains in South African wine. Bottles here start at $35, which is preposterous for such a casual place.

Then again, you can linger over that bottle for however long you like. One night, we sat with a big plate of the biryani and drank a bottle of Pepper Pot, a simple, berry-ish red blend from the Stellenbosch region of South Africa. Our waiter cavorted around the room and periodically disappeared for smoke breaks. It's rare and somewhat refreshing to find a place in Manhattan that's so genuinely weird, and so unconcerned with business notions like turning tables.

For more of our restaurant coverage, check out our food blog, Fork in the Road

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