Tamil Nadu Bhavan – A New York Rat Hole

Update: Tamil Nadu Bhavan Re-opened by NYC Health Dept

Our earliest memories of South Indian restaurants are of dark and dingy interiors, food served in dirty plates or banana leaves and water poured into tall tumblers by sweat-drenched waiters in the dusty small towns and cities of Tamil Nadu in South India.

Four decades and 10,000 miles later, a visit to a South Indian restaurant remains a mishap-prone, dirty journey into the unknown.

We’ve visited scores of Indian restaurants in the New York metropolitan region and have found several of them to be dirty.

Indians, it seems, bring all their dirty baggage – literally and figuratively – to America.

Our latest knowledge of a dirty South Indian restaurant is Tamil Nadu Bhavan on Lexington Avenue in the Curry Hill area of New York City. The Murray Hill area in Manhattan, where Tamil Nadu Bhavan is located, is referred to as Curry Hill for its proliferation of Indian restaurants.

But even by the stinking standards of dirty Indian restaurants in New York City, Tamil Nadu Bhavan a.k.a New Saravana Bhavan Dosa Hut in Manhattan is a rat hole.

Evidence of Rats, Mice, Roaches and Flying Insects are only some of the problems identified by the NYC Health Department in its April 23, 2008 inspection of Tamil Nadu Bhavan, which earned this ugly Indian restaurant an astounding 80 violation points.

Tamil Nadu Bhavan NYC
Tamil Nadu Bhavan – A New York Rat Hole
102 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016
Ph: 212-679-4497

In the same inspection report, the NYC Health Dept inspector also wrote: Food item spoiled, adulterated, contaminated or cross-contaminated.

And by the way, this restaurant is not vermin proof.

In less than four months after Tamil Nadu Bhavan opened, the NYC Health Department of Health & Mental Hygiene ordered this dumpster to be shut down.

Tamil Nadu Bhavan has the dubious distinction of failing the New York City Health Department inspection thrice in a span of just two months, i.e. between March 12, 2008 – April 23, 2008.

We were mortified to learn recently that our meal at Tamil Nadu Bhavan happened between the first failed inspection and the second failed inspection.

In the April 23, 2008 NYC Health Dept inspection, after Tamil Nadu Bhavan received 80 violation points and failed the inspection it was ordered to be shut down.

A New York City restaurant needs a score of 27 or less to pass the NYC Health Dept inspection.

Sanitary Violations observed at Tamil Nadu Bhavan during the April 23, 2008 NYC Health Dept inspection:

1.) Non-food contact surface improperly constructed. Unacceptable material used. Non-food contact surface or equipment improperly maintained.
2.) Toilet facility not maintained and provided with toilet paper, waste receptacle and self-closing door.
3.) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to vermin exist.
4.) Sanitized equipment or utensil, including in-use food dispensing utensil, improperly used or stored.
5.) Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service.
6.) Evidence of flying insects or live flying insects present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
7.) Evidence of roaches or live roaches present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
8.) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
9.) Evidence of rats or live rats present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
10.) Appropriately scaled metal stem-type thermometer not provided or used to evaluate temperatures of potentially hazardous foods during cooking, cooling, reheating and holding.
11.) Food item spoiled, adulterated, contaminated or cross-contaminated.
12.) Food worker does not use proper utensil to eliminate bare hand contact with food that will not receive adequate additional heat treatment.

The NYC Department of Health inspection report of April 23, 2008 said that the establishment was closed by Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and that Tamil Nadu Bhavan restaurant requires compliance inspection.

Previous NYC Inspection Reports of Tamil Nadu Bhavan a.k.a New Saravana Bhavan Dosa Hut:

Date | Violation Points

04/03/2008 – 42
03/12/2008 – 57
08/22/2007 – 13
08/16/2007 – 46
04/04/2007 – 24

Although the restaurant board outside and the menu clearly said Tamil Nadu Bhavan, the bill from our March 2008 visit to this restaurant mentioned Saravana Bhavan Dosa Hut. Strange, indeed.

Tamil Nadu Bhavan opened on January 14, 2008. A Nice Pongal “Rat” Gift to diners, eh?

Suffice to say that Tamil Nadu Bhavan will be the last South Indian restaurant we’ll consider visiting during our future trips to the Big Apple.

One Response to "Tamil Nadu Bhavan – A New York Rat Hole"

  1. shuaib68   August 30, 2008 at 8:52 am

    The same experience I had in my hometown Colombo, Sri Lanka. There’s one Vegetarian Restaurant down a street called Goerge R. De Silva in Kotahena Area.

    I was in a mood to have a vegetarian stuff for lunch and while sitting I observed roaches in hundreds running above near the ceiling opening. I called the same type of sweaty waiter to tell him about it. Even before I tell him one roach fell on my table. And in second you see a rampage of roaches everywhere. I stood up and went towards the cashier, complained to him that I would report this to the Municipality and walked out never to return again.

    But, complaining in Sri Lanka is a waste effort. The owners will get around the Health Inspector and give him a bribe and they will be in business as usual. Sometimes the H.O. visits often to get extra like free food and other favours. Colombo Municipality is notorious for that.

    Most of these Indian food outlets live with roaches and rats. Maybe, they would have seen an old movie similar to “Rat-a-Touille”???

    SearchIndia.com Responds:

    The Health Dept is a little active in the U.S.

    Even in NYC restaurants, rats are fairly common. Please click here for the KFC/Taco Bell story.

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