Yuva, The New Kid On The Block
What does a New York restaurateur give his sweetheart? A brand new restaurant to reflect her personality!
Kedar Shah, whose family owns several hotels and the restaurants Salaam Bombay in New York and Passage to India in New Jersey, is a former Wall Streeter and an MBA in finance. On a visit to Mumbai’s famous Siddhivinayak Temple he literally bumped into Hritu Deepak, the popular Indian soap opera star who’s also anchored shows on Zee and Star Plus. It must have been divine intervention, because says Hritu, “One thing led to another. It was all very film-like. We got married and I came to New York only for love.”
When they landed in New York, Kedar didn’t merely take her out to restaurants; he gave her one! As a second-generation restaurateur, he wanted their new space to be a fun, chic interpretation of Indian food. The result is Yuva, which means youth, the newest kid on a Manhattan block that already has three Indian eateries – Ada, Chola and Dawat.
“Kedar and I are very extroverted personalities. We like people and here we are interacting with new people every day,” she says. Since they are the new-generation part of an Indian restaurant family, the couple brainstormed on what they would like the perfect Indian restaurant to be. “I would not like tired, slow music playing. I want happy energy and I wanted an Indian restaurant where there’s good music, good energy and the entire dining experience is very pleasant,” says Hritu. So they created a stylish contemporary atmosphere and fun, colorful cocktails like Indian Smooch, Monsoon Wedding and Yuva Masti.
At the same time, you can’t eat atmosphere and the couple has ensured that the food is what draws people in to taste the offerings of the noted tandoori master chef Dhandu Ram, who was earlier at the acclaimed Bukhara at the Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi. You won’t find any heavy curries here, but light barbequed cuisine. The dishes include a variety of kebabs, slow cooked Chicken Molee, Rann (leg of lamb), Mint Chicken and Grilled Scallops as well as Eggplant Raita. The unstoppable appetizers include Sea Crisps, Spiced Mushrooms and Okra Crunch.
Yes, the food is traditional frontier fare presented with New York flair, but the atmosphere is as far from the rugged rough and tough northwest frontier province as you can get!