Why You Should Dine At GupShup: NYC’s Hippest Indian Restaurant

According to a 2017 survey, it would take 22.7 years to eat at every restaurant in New York City.

After living here for so many years, that comes as no surprise. I am often torn whenever I have family or friends visiting on where to take them to dine. The options are quite literally endless. What makes deciding where to chow down even more difficult is, in New York, you can find cuisine at the level of authenticity that you’d find at night markets in Bangkok, late night eateries in Taipei, trattorias in Rome, patisseries in Paris, and in GupShup’s case, from the heart of Mumbai.

GupShup
Street view. FACEBOOK GupShup
GupShup
Restaurant interior. FACEBOOK GupShup

I finally made it to this hip eatery situated conveniently in Manhattan’s Union Square. Union Square is a popular area in New York City. It’s the sever between Manhattan’s business-savvy corporate Midtown/Flatiron District and hip dive-bar and cheap-eats filled Lower East Side/East Village. In Union Square, you can find restaurants of all sorts, but most come with a price tag. Since it is such a popular neighborhood, including: home to NYU and The New School; it is difficult to navigate the area without it leaving a dent on your wallet. For this reason, I don’t spend much time in Union Square, but for a stop at GupShup? It was well worth it.

The menu at GupShup has numerous enticing options: how to choose? Indian cuisine typically does not veer too far off track from traditional, but GupShup has found a way to incorporate modern takes on classic dishes: paneer cheese rolls, Amritsari soft-shell crab, and the innovative butter chicken wings.

Amritsari Soft-Shell Crab at GupShup. Photo: Manish Gosalia
Amritsari Soft-Shell Crab at GupShup. Photo: Manish Gosalia
Butter Chicken and Garlic Naan at GupShup. Photo: Manish Gosalia
Butter Chicken and Garlic Naan at GupShup. Photo: Manish Gosalia

The meal started with finely crafted cocktails that incorporated traditional Indian flavors such as Chai Masala, turmeric, and black cardamom. Masala Chai’s history shows it can be created in several different forms, but GupShup gives it a whole new meaning by mixing it into a warm welcoming martini.

Once settling in after a few sips of the inspiring drinks this eatery has to offer, GupShup takes you on a culinary tour around the Indian peninsula. Crabs thrive in cold water, so, based on India’s sweltering climate, it’s an unusual surprise to see crab on a Bombay menu. The most common crab in India, however, is khadi cha kekda, or mud crab. GupShup takes a lesser known ingredient and gives it a spin with a soft-shell crab version, deep fried, tossed in masala powder and speckled with flecks of coconut, quickly transporting you to the coastline of the Indian ocean.

Butter Chicken at GupShup. Photo: Manish Gosalia
Butter Chicken at GupShup. Photo: Manish Gosalia
Chole Tikki at GupShup. Photo: Manish Gosalia
Chole Tikki at GupShup. Photo: Manish Gosalia

GupShup’s owner, Jimmy Rizvi, had recommended the Himalayan Morels, stating that the dish is one of the more popular items, especially amongst vegan and gluten-free diners. Similarly to crab, mushrooms are not the first ingredient that comes to mind when thinking about Indian cuisine. India, however, is a large country covering several different types of landscape. And in the mountainous Himalayan region of the country, the luxurious morel mushroom can be found. Locally called guchchi, these mushrooms can only be foraged after snowfall, and with a laced honeycomb texture, are extremely fragile, making them even harder to maintain. They are known as one of the most expensive mushrooms in the world. Meaty in flavor and spongelike in texture, these shrooms are full of health benefits. The way GupShup prepared the Himalayan Morels was similar to Baingan Bharta, a classic Southern Indian eggplant dish with a tomato-onion-herb base.

Head Chef Zahir Khan, an immigrant from India who recently made his way to the Big Apple, made it clear that the butter chicken dish is one of the most popular, and that the restaurant goes through 400 pounds of chicken a week. Butter chicken is arguably Indian cuisine’s most popular dish amongst Westerners and can be found at nearly any Indian restaurant around the globe. It originated at the restaurant Moti Mahal in Delhi back in the 1950s. The alleged story is that Chef Kundan Lal Gujral was trying to prevent food waste, which led him to stewing down tomatoes, butter, cream, and chicken, and served it with rice. The dish became wildly popular and “the rest is history.” Although, there is also speculation that the dish was created for British colonizers, and Britain has gone so far as to claim butter chicken a national dish of the UK. Either way, the Butter Chicken at GupShup is a step above the rest, encompassing its traditional bright yellow turmeric-tinted hue, but with a nice surprise kick of spice. Most importantly, it is a dish Head Chef Zahir Khan seems the proudest of.

GupShup
Décor. FACEBOOK GupShup

For dessert, we ordered the Deconstructed Cassata. Cassata is a pink and green fruit cake with marzipan originating in Palermo, Sicily. Both India and Ohio in the U.S. have claimed variations. In India, cassata differs from the Sicilian version by referring to a layered ice cream cake, usually using strawberry, pistachio, and vanilla ice creams. At GupShup, however, they’ve taken the innovation of cassata to a whole new level. The dish consisted of Guava, Pistachio, and Cardamom Ice creams, with candied pecans and crunchy rose petals. If you ever want to feel fancy, order this dish and munch on some roses while sipping a masala chai martini. I promise it doesn’t get much fancier than that, even if you did eat most of your saucy foods with your hands!

Aside from the delicious food, GupShup has photo-worthy spots all over. The walls have beautiful paintings and designs from local artists, such as: Karishma Naran and Sonny Sundancer. The Dabbawala wall next to the staircase is creatively covered in Tiffin stainless steel lunch boxes, the traditional lunchbox given to children in India. In front of the restaurant, you will find lanterns, and a flower arrangement to fulfill all of your Instagram-worthy photo dreams.

Deconstructed Cassata at GupShup. Photo: Manish Gosalia
Deconstructed Cassata at GupShup. Photo: Manish Gosalia

GupShup serves as a friendly reminder that I don’t need to travel far to feel like I’m somewhere exciting and new. Food is one of the quickest ways to be transported out of your everyday routines, and dining with good friends can feel like an adventure, even if you’re only ten minutes away from your apartment in your own home city.

Kaitlyn has lived in New York City for 12 years.

Kaitlyn Rosati

Contributor

Originally from New York, Kaitlyn was a musician/bartender before she left it all behind to embark on a solo round-the-world backpacking trip. She is passionate about preserving the environment, learning about gender equality throughout the world, eating anything that’s placed in front of her, saying hi to every animal she meets, and jumping off of cliffs into pretty blue waters.

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