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rating star

Vatan isn't your standard Indian restaurant, which is the most impressive thing about it. For one thing, it has a prix-fixe $30 menu; second it is unusually decorated (the ground floor features bamboo huts where you take off your shoes and sit on the floor, whereas the top floor has standard seating). I think the decorations were borderline tacky and gaudy (extremely bright colors and bamboo poles made the place look almost like a 1970s Polynesian bar), but at least they're trying to be different.

I called ahead and confirmed that they have vegan food; indeed, most of the dishes they serve throughout the night are vegan, with a few exceptions.

The first course of the meal is a thali full of a variety of snack foods and fried things (samosas, batter-fried vegetables, etc.). All of them were tasty enough, but nothing stood out in my mind. The second course featured three or four curries (think potatoes, tomatoes, cauliflower, etc.), lentil dishes, rice and whatnot. Again, none of the food stood out in any way from Indian food you'd find elsewhere, but it was respectable.

The food would have been much better if they'd:

a) offered brown rice, instead of just white rice
b) offered wholewheat roti, instead of fried, oily white flour puri
c) made some dishes with less common vegetables/legumes, such as fava beans, okra, kohlrabi, or maybe even some American/Chinese vegetables such as broccoli, bok choy, pea tips, etc.

d) re-created some Indian vegetarian dishes with modern vegan ingredients such as tofu (or "soya paneer" as Indians call it), dehydrated Nutrela soy chunks, seitan, tempeh, etc.

For dessert, they gave us some mango pulp and also made a nice cup of black tea (normally they give milk tea and some dairy ice cream). I appreciated both, but it's really easy these days to get vegan ice cream (Trader Joe's has a killer mango-vanilla soy ice cream that my Indian family loves), and to offer soy milk or rice/almond milk for hot beverages.

It seemed like a gross oversight on the part of the kitchen here to not offer such basic vegan substitutes, especially in an all-vegetarian restaurant. The management here would do well to not only offer these products (and maybe soy yogurt as well), but to also learn a bit about how dairy products are made in the US, which is, on balance, with cruelty to the animals and poor working conditions for the oft-illegal labor.

While the food is unlimited here (and you can go back to earlier parts of the meal at any time and order more of a particular dish), the reality is that you can't eat much more than what they initially serve you.

Given that the quantity of the food ends up being pretty standard, you're really paying for variety.

At the same time, though, the food isn't organic, isn't innovative, and doesn't offer cool vegan substitutes. As such, I don't think it's a good value at $30.

I applaud Vatan for being one-of-a-kind, but I probably won't be coming back here unless they make those changes I recommended above.

rating star

This is a great place to get Indian food and the traditional atmosphere!
Being of same origin, I would Highly recommend this place!

rating star

The best Indian food experience I have had in NYC. If you go, eat very light prior to dinner. The cuisine is elegantly prepared, unique and delicious. The atmosphere is fun and upscale. I recommend asking them to put half of your meal in a doggie bag so you can take it home and enjoy it later. They serve so much food that half of it is more than enough for one meal. SO AMAZING

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Very close to home cooked Gujarati* food and the best restaurant of it's kind I have visited outside of India. London has nothing to compare.
Starters can be a little too spicy but you can request milder versions of subsequent courses.
"Traditional" couch seating is fun but normal chair like tables are available and a recommended option.
The staff are efficient but reserved and this could be improved upon.
The local area is buzzing with Indian stores and worth a look after your meal.
* a region of India

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Indian cuisine done in three courses (for dinner).

The quantity is a bit overwhelming. I would recommend fasting for at least one day. Also, if you are not starving, avoid the lassis. They are thick, rich, and a meal in and of itself. Vatan is 100% vegetarian, but had a lot of yogurt based dishes.

It is not a buffet, it is an all you can eat "thali" type of affair. Servers will ask if you want more food, and will bring it to you (point and ask, if all else fails).

Their samosas were impeccable, small mouth sized triangles of crispiness, greaseless papadum, and great masala chai.

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