Masala Times' Paneer Pav Bhaji
194 Bleecker Street has been home to a long line of Indian snack joints: There was Indian Bread Co., then the dearly departed Aamchi Pao, and, since May, Masala Times. Here, you can get kebabs, lassis, and the popular sandwiches based around pav, the squishy white rolls brought to India by the Portuguese.
The restaurant hits its theme -- Bollywood -- hard. The walls are printed with maxims about Hollywood versus Bollywood: In Hollywood, if you throw up, you're drunk; in Bollywood, if you throw up, you're a disgrace to the family, and so on. Chairs bear the head shots of Bollywood greats like Amitabh Bachchan.
The restaurant is also anxious for NYU students to know that they're open until 3 a.m. during the week and 5 a.m. on weekends. The website features this rant from a hypothetical college student:
"I'm so drunk and it's so late and it's been such a terrible week and I need to go for a late night party and buy contraception and shack up with my latest fling and then break up tomorrow and find time to complete my assignments and get a haircut and I need to call mom. But first things first. I'm so godamn hungry! Can I get some food!!!"
Uh, Masala Times to the rescue! Luckily, there were no drunken, contraceptive-and-haircut-needing college students at lunch today.
There are several vegetarian options on the menu, including a tasty paneer pav bhaji ($5.99), a dish of stewed, spiced vegetables with grated paneer cheese and two buttered, griddled rolls. The vegetables -- including onions, bell pepper, and peas -- are zested with garlic, green chiles, and ginger, while the cheese and bread provide richness and heft. You can spoon some filling into a roll and eat it like a small sandwich, or pinch off bits of the bread and use it to spoon up the vegetables.
To drink, try a cooling salted lassi, a savory, chaat-masala-spiked yogurt beverage.
Masala Times 194 Bleecker Street 212-477-3333
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to New York dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.