grubstreet.com – Adam Platt
In many Indian restaurants around the city, chefs tend to be ghostly, anonymous figures who rarely poke their heads out of the kitchen door. But at his boisterous new Alphabet City establishment, Babu Ji, Jessi Singh, who comes to the East Village via Melbourne and Punjab, is a constant presence in his dining room, grinning, circulating among the tables, cheerfully suggesting dishes in his soft Aussie twang. As designed by Singh’s wife (and co-owner), Jennifer, the room exudes a sense of conviviality too. The walls are decorated with big photos of assorted babujis (“honored father” or respected elder in Hindi) sporting eccentric handlebar mustaches and vividly colored sequined coats. A stuffed peacock sits above the beer-and-wine cooler, and when I asked for a beer to go with my curry, the waiter instructed me in a cheerful voice to go to the cooler and choose it myself.