So this is a little outside of my usual realm of Bollywood reviews, but this is something I wish I had been able to find a couple of months ago when I moved to New York.
A Guide to Finding Bollywood and Desi in New York (Mostly Manhattan)
Basically, I want to put out there what I’ve learned so far in the hopes that it might help someone else.
Here’s the knowledge that’s easy to find on the Web: Little India, Jackson Heights, Queens is the place to go for all things Indian. Cheap DVDs, food everywhere, sari/clothing shops, jewelry stores — everything is in Jackson Heights, right off of the subway stop.
But what if you can’t get out to Queens? It’s a long haul from Manhattan to Jackson Heights. (Honestly, I’ve only made the hour-long trip once so far and am going again next weekend.)
Here’s what I’ve found in Manhattan:
Music of India at 28th and Lexington, on the second floor above a cafe. This is my Bollywood DVD store in NYC — and, of course, it can be your music store too, if that’s what you’re after. The DVDs range in price. There’s a four for $20 rack, some $9.99, some collection sets… It just depends. But the selection is pretty darn good.
Now where to see the new releases?
Well, there’s a few options. On the Upper East Side, you have BIG Cinemas Manhattan (formerly the ImaginAsian) on 59th Street near Second Avenue. This theater is very small, though, and is usually showing only one or two films at a time. BIG Cinemas also has a larger theater that shows Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and Hollywood films out in Flushing, Queens, (the Bombay Theatre) but it’s hard to get to (requires subway and a bus or at least two buses). Honestly, the one over the river in New Jersey is easier to get to, and it’s also large and multilingual. Both of those other BIG theaters are also cheaper than the Manhattan one, though it may even out with transportation costs.
Actually, your best bet for Bollywood is the AMC Loews theaters. Some of these are also in Jersey, but the AMC Loews Village 7 in the East Village is easy to get to (really, really easy for me) and it’s usually carrying at least one and sometimes two Bollywood films at a time. PLUS, if you can catch a movie before noon (I’ve been going on Saturday mornings), it’s only $6.
Now let’s move past Bollywood to other things desi.
Little India at 28th and Lexington (near Music of India). This grocery store isn’t the best (last time I went in, there were flies everywhere) and it’s kind of pricey, but this is my Indian grocery. It has almost everything you could want. Also at 28th and Lex, there’s plenty of restaurants, including Curry in a Hurry (which isn’t always in a hurry but is nice anyway).
Heart of India at Second Avenue and Fifth Street. This is definitely my go-to Indian restaurant. It’s in the East Village not far from my apartment, the food is SO good, the atmosphere is classy, and the prices are CHEAP. Now, the one possible complaint about the food is that some of it is occasionally bland by Indian standards. But speak your mind on spice and that shouldn’t be a problem. The waiters are all SUPER nice too. Also nearby to Heart of India is a sari shop of which I don’t know the name and the Pak Punjab Deli.