If you're searching for the best bhel puri in Manhattan, look no further than Chennai Garden. Quite odd that you would find the most lip-smackingly delicious Bombay street snack in a kosher certified South Indian restaurant, but I've got to award Chennai Garden with first prize when it comes to bhel.
I've tried bhel puri at every Indian restaurant in the city that I've eaten at - Tabla Bread Bar, Amma, Devi, Sukhadia's, Madras Mahal, Tamarind Cafe, Pongal to name a few - but none comes even close to the one you can eat at Chennai Garden. The bhel you get here is just the perfect mix of crunchiness, moistness, crispnesss, sweetness and sourness. And consistently so. Maybe they use a special puffed rice. Or organic onions that impart just the right flavour :) Or perhaps the juju is in the tamarind paste. Or maybe it's the cilantro chutney. I can't figure out what makes the bhel so damn special but it sure beats anything I've tasted elsewhere.
My friend, Shivani, swears by the gobi masala. She goes to Chennai Garden at least once a week to eat sambhar (on its own like a soup!), phulkas (puffed chapatis) and gobi masala. I stole a few bites when we went together last week and it was so yummy:
129 East 27th Street
(between Park & Lexington)