These are troubled times for Shiva Natarajan, numero uno Indian restaurateur on the U.S. East Coast and Bollywood actor.
The New York City Health Department has come down heavily on Shiva’s Dhaba Indian restaurant citing mice, vermin, sewage, garbage, pesticide, prohibited chemical and a host of other unpalatable issues at this restaurant on Lexington Avenue in Murray Hill area of Manhattan.
Yes, Dhaba failed the February 10, 2009 NYC Health Department inspection.
Besides Dhaba, another Indian restaurant Shiva is associated with in the NYC area – Tadka – is also facing serious, serious sanitation problems.
Whining and More Whining
After our recent restaurant review on Dhaba, we got an earful from Shiva.
In our review, we made no secret of the fact that the food and service at Dhaba (Shiva’s newest Indian restaurant in New York City) were crappy and crappier respectively.
You know what. Shiva got agitated and whined and whined and whined over the phone.
Because we made a reference to Shiva’s Bollywood connections and his name in the headline, the fella suggested to us that our review took an ‘unprofessional approach’ and implied that it was a ‘personal attack’ on him.
Folks, by his association with Bollywood, Shiva is a celebrity. So, what’s wrong in putting his name in the headline.
Citing a lot of appreciation from the American press and dropping names like the New York Times, Shiva boasted:
Today in New York City if you see the variety of food that I have got and the acclaim that I have got from the American press…you should be proud of what I’ve done.
Really, Shiva? So, we should be proud of your mice, vermin, sewage, garbage and other sanitation problems at Dhaba?
Shiva, remember all these problems were uncovered by the NYC Health Department after our conversation last month.
Evidence of Mice in Food and/or Non-Food Areas
Dhaba located on Lexington Ave in Murray Hill area of Manhattan is not vermin proof and there is evidence of mice or live mice in the facility’s food and/or non-food areas, says the New York City Dept of Health following its inspection of this restaurant on February 10, 2009.
The NYC Health Dept. also found plumbing not properly installed or maintained, sewage disposal system in disrepair, pesticide use not in accordance with label or applicable laws, prohibited chemical used/stored and use of open bait station at Dhaba.
Guys, we don’t know about you. But such serious sanitation issues in a restaurant make us nervous.
Dhaba received a total of 48 violation points, a significant deterioration over the 20 Violation Points in the previous inspection of September 28, 2008.
To pass the NYC Health Dept. inspection, a restaurant must receive 27 violation points or less. By receiving 48 violation points, Dhaba failed the NYC Health Dept. inspection of February 10, 2009.
Sanitary Violations observed at Dhaba during the February 10, 2009 inspection:
1.) Other general violation.
2.) Non-food contact surface improperly constructed. Unacceptable material used. Non-food contact surface or equipment improperly maintained.
3.) Lighting inadequate. Bulb not shielded or shatterproof.
4.) Plumbing not properly installed or maintained; anti-siphonage or backflow prevention device not provided where required; equipment or floor not properly drained; sewage disposal system in disrepair or not functioning properly.
5.) Food contact surface not properly maintained.
6.) Pesticide use not in accordance with label or applicable laws. Prohibited chemical used/stored. Open bait station used.
7.) Garbage receptacles not provided or inadequate. Garbage storage area not properly constructed or maintained; grinder or compactor dirty.
8.) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to vermin exist.
9.) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
10.) Cold food held above 41°F (smoked fish above 38°F) except during necessary preparation.
The NYC Dept of Health said a Notice of Violation was not issued as a result of this inspection and that the violation point total received by Dhaba is above the average violation point total of 16 for all NYC restaurants on their most recent inspection.
But Dhaba requires Compliance Inspection according to NYC Health Dept’s February 10, 2009 inspection report.
No, We don’t Believe You
We did not speak to Shiva Natarajan after the latest NYC Health Department inspection report came out but when we spoke to him in February, he blamed the sanitation issues generally on the older buildings and garbage collection policies of New York City (he complained about lack of garbage pickup on Sunday in NYC).
This is what Shiva told us over the phone before the recent inspection:
No owner wants to have a problem in terms of health and other issues or even with the food….We’re trying hard. Believe me.
Well, if the February 10, 2009 NYC Health Dept. inspection report for Dhaba is anything to go by it doesn’t look you have tried hard enough, Shiva. No, we do not believe you either. Read your Dhaba inspection report again, Shiva.
Problems at Tadka Too
Tadka, the other NYC Indian restaurant Shiva is involved with but claims that he ‘gave’ to his chef to manage, is also facing mice, vermin, potential food contamination and other serious sanitation issues and failed the NYC Health Dept. inspection on February 6, 2009.
Dhaba Indian Restaurant Previous NYC Inspection Reports:
Date | Violation Points
Bollywood Actor Shiva Natarajan Loses Hygiene War at Dhaba NYC
Dhaba NYC Review – Shiva, Screw Bollywood; Fix Your Crappy Food & Crappier Service
Tadka Fails NYC Health Dept. Inspection; Again
Rats, Mice, Flying Insects Mar Dhaba Restaurant in NYC
I am not sure you have anything to do with these chola/Tadka.. still looks your argument is a correct one. I totally agree that most Indian restaurants don’t care about hygiene.
Another related thing: Why we all forget about Indian grocery stores…stale foods, expired products otherwise erase expiry date etc…Indian grocery’s don’t have expiry date in most of the items. Is the health department anything to do with Indian grocery stores?
1. Most Indian restaurants we’ve been to in North America are really, really dirty. We’ve probably been to over 100 from Canada to the Mexico border. No kidding. Very few have impressed us on either food or service.
2. You write above: Another related thing: Why we all forget about Indian grocery stores…stale foods, expired products otherwise erase expiry date etc…Indian grocery’s don’t have expiry date in most of the items. Is the health department anything to do with Indian grocery stores?
OMG, we agree 10,000%.
Most Indian grocery stores in the U.S. are absolutely disgusting. We’ve been to Indian grocery stores in CA, NJ, NY, DE, PA, MD & VA.
A lot of them stink literally, no itemized bills, expired products, horrible vegetables, min $15 or $20 for credit card purchases, stale snacks in cooler, not to forget the high-price.
Now many of them have started selling lousy Samosas/Masala Vadas and sweets like Jalebis. Occasionally, we get tempted by the Samosa/Vada and later regret it.
Unfortunately, American grocery stores don’t stock Indian stuff (though we’ve lately started seeing Gulab Jamun, Rossogolla tins and heat-n-eat Curry Packets but for the most part American stores are only now discovering Mexican and Chinese grocery products. So, it’ll be a while before they get to Indian stuff).
3. What we recommend:
* Basmati Rice, Coffee Powder/Tea, Eggs, Milk, Olive Oil, Fruits, Bread, Frozen Vegetables – Sam’s Club or Costco (both require about $35 or $40 Annual Membership Fee and ideal for large families)
* Fresh Vegetables – American grocery stores or local Farmer’s Market
* Indian Spices, Wheat flour, Idli Mix, Indian Snacks, Frozen Parathas, Idli, Vada et al, Kulfi/Indian Ice Cream – No choice 🙁 Indian stores
4. As to why the Health Dept. is ignoring the filthy Indian grocery stores, we think there must be some hanky-panky going on there.
good review! i really appreciate your restaurant reviews [unlike your movie reviews 🙂 ]…
about the indian grocery stores – the less said the better…infact, there are atleast a couple of desi restaurants that are ‘welcoming’, but these stores are just terrible…
the other day, i saw a bottle of limca that had an expiry date of 2006 (and i saw this in 2009)!!!
1. Based on our personal experience, most Indian restaurants in the U.S. tend to treat Indian diners badly. They don’t greet us, make us wait, assign a lousy Siberia of a table, render poor service, fail to replenish the items on the buffet table if we are the only ones around…We’ve also heard from waiters that the restaurateurs do not give them the tips…it’s a lengthy litany of woes.
Then there’s the biggest crime of all – Dumbing down the spices to pander to effete American palates.
What we’ve heard on the grapevine is that the restaurateurs believe Indians don’t order booze, order ‘enough’ food or tip well.
2. You write above: about the indian grocery stores – the less said the better…
Not sure if you remember…Back in the go-go days of the dot com boom in the late 90s, there was an online Indian grocery store called namaste.com based in Chicago…for sometime we used to buy our groceries from them…Reasonable prices and they even had free shipping for over $25 or something like that. After the dot com bust, they disappeared and morphed into an ethnic Asian store.