While Long Island City is one of those up-and-coming neighborhoods that has its fair share of hip destination spots like Moma PS1, The Noguchi Museum or Mu Ramen, it’s still pretty underdeveloped in certain parts. It’s not uncommon to walk down endless blocks of unmarked warehouses with no signs of life other than the rush of cars on the streets trying to get somewhere else. But on the corner of Queens Blvd, near Thompson Ave and Van Dam St, you’ll actually see people spilling out the doors of a particular location. No, they’re not those new Amazon employees, but guests trying to get a table at the highly popular new Indian restaurant Adda.
It’s really amazing to see people willing to wait several hours for a table at an Indian restaurant, because it’s not normally something you would see in this country. And the walk down Queens Blvd to get to Adda, might I add, is not an easy or straightforward one, so the food has to be extremely good for people willing to risk the trek to this part of town. Those 10 minutes I spent getting lost and trying to figure out how to cross the odd hexagonal streets to get to Adda were not a waste a time at all.
You know a meal will be memorable when the news that a restaurant has a BYOB policy prompts a trip to buy the biggest bottles of cheap beer at the neighboring 7 Eleven. Most tables around us were well-prepared and opted for classier bottles of wine, but beer actually pairs pretty well with spicy Indian food. And they definitely do not hold back on the spice here. Thank god I had my mango lassi with me to quell the flames.
Everything we ordered that night felt like essential components of the meal. We started out with some fried snacks, the kale pakoda and the aloo chana chaat, which served as pleasant teasers for the good meal that was to follow. And then we waded a little deeper with the paneer khurchan, a delicious homemade cheese with a mild disposition that set us up for the fiery goat biryani and butter chicken.
From the moment the goat biryani arrived at the table, you knew that it would be a showstopper. It was very stunning visually, in which a layer of naan sealed the underlying meat and rice and had to be dramatically broken with a fork and spoon like a massive creme brulee. And that rice had so much flavor on a scale I had rarely experienced, each grain coated in an amazing veil of meaty juices and spices. With no visible signs of red or any obvious indications of heat, the biryani seemed innocuous enough, but then a slow, unrelenting burn would build in your mouth that not even the naan or the cool raita yogurt could quell.
If goat’s not your thing, then the familiar butter chicken should do the trick. The sauce is not as thick as it is in more traditional places, but there’s definitely a lot of butter and cream in there, and nothing will seem like it’s missing when you bite into the tender chicken chunks.
Can you imagine if Amazon actually had set up shop in Long Island City? We wouldn’t even stand a chance to get a table at Adda at reasonable times. Right now it’s pretty easy to snag a prime weekend table on its online reservation system because I guess it’s still considered out of the way for a lot of people. I’m the first one to admit that I’m pretty reluctant to travel too far for food, but despite the unscenic walk down Queens Blvd, the road less traveled made all the difference.
31-31 Thomson Avenue (between Van Dam St, Queens Blvd and Skillman Ave)
Queens, NY 11101