2014-10-15 / Restaurant of the Week

Agra of Bayside

Ayna Agra is a beautifully appointed modern Indian restaurant located in the heart of Bayside on 39th Avenue, just off Bell Boulevard Spice-red walls and gleaming wood floors are beset with elegantly dressed tables. Soft lighting illuminates the fine, Indian tapestries framed on the walls. You’re in good hands at Ayna Agra, whose name means “Mirror of the Taj Mahal.” In fact, the warm-hearted owner, Joaquim Gomes, has 44 years of experience in the Indian restaurant business here in Queens, Manhattan, and his place of origin, Bombay, where the focus has always been on excellence, fresh ingredients, beautiful presentation, good service, and cleanliness.

One of the many nice things about Ayna Agra is that it offers both traditional, authentic and modern dishes to please a wide range of tastes. Everything is made fresh on the spot from fine ingredients. The service is great and the prices are affordable, which explains such high praise on yelp. It’s important to note that while all Indian food is flavorful, it isn’t all ‘hot’. Your kind waiter will be happy to take you through the menu and suggest the best dish for you.

Ayna Agra has great appetizers, all sized to share and enjoy, so we started with “kati rolls” which represent a more modern Indian treat. These Indian style wraps are filled with chicken or beef seasoned with coriander and cumin, then topped with lots of chopped cilantro and a side of sweet sauce ($6.25). Traditional samosas are triangular shaped pastries filled with seasoned vegetables, potato, chicken, or beef and mild spices, perfect for drizzling with sweet tamarind sauce or spicy chili sauce. Bombay calamari gets its unique flavor twist from a chickpea batter, mustard and curry which we loved. Muglai shrimp is prepared in similar fashion, or try the assorted appetizer platter with an array of vegetable and lentil fritters.

Ayna Agra main courses include vegetarian, chicken, lamb, seafood, and even beef entrées, duck, and lobster. Bombay duck was an unexpected treat listed on the Signature Entrees. A quarter duck had been thoughtfully seasoned and slow cooked for hours in a savory sauce that was perfect spooned over the fluffy basmati rice ($15.95). Lamb Rogan Josh is tender chunks of lamb that have been simmered in mild spices, yogurt and tomato for a hearty dish ($14.95). Chicken tikka masala is a classic Indian dish and recently named the national dish of England, due to its popularity. Ayna Agra’s chicken tikka masala is creamy, tangy and delicious to stay or to go. Ayna Agra offers free delivery in a 10- block area though they’ll cater further afield.

The clay tandoor renders chicken, beef, and seafood so supremely tender, due to the intense heat and yogurt marinade. Bread is ordered separately in Indian cuisine so be sure to order some fluffy Naan, puffy Poori, or flaky Paratha stuffed with ground meat or potatoes. Biryani rice dishes are made with vegetables, shrimp or peas amidst basmati rice, spices, raisins and almonds. Shrimp Jalfrezi is highly recommended for its spicy tomato masala, green peppers and onions. Fish or lobster curry is cooked similarly and the spice can be adjusted to your liking.

There are a lot of vegetarian dishes at Ayna Agra, with kudos for the Shaag Paneer made with fresh, chopped spinach, cubes of homemade cheese and mild spices. Ayna Agra’s version is so fresh, not drowning in cream sauce, so that you can taste the spinach and cheese. The same is true for Chana Shaag, made with tender chickpeas. There’s a spicy dish called vegetables Jalfrezi, and many mild ones, such as vegetable Kurma with a coconut and almond sauce ($11.95).

A full range of wines and beers is available or sip a cool mango lassi yogurt drink. Sweeten your palate with pistachio or mango ice cream, Keer rice pudding, or Gulas Jamun, fried cheese balls dipped in honey. Ayna Agra has a fabulous Lunch Special from noon to 3:30 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Starting at just $6.95, you’ll find lamb, fish, shrimp, or curry dishes, along with the special of the day.

Ayna Agra is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. The warm atmosphere, friendly service, and excellent food make this a great choice for a flavorful dinner with friends or family. Large parties and families are welcome. Namaste!

213-35 39th Avenue | Bayside, NY
718.225.1201  516.307.2472

www.agrarestaurantnyc.com

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