2013-04-24 / Restaurant of the Week

5 Star Diner and 5 Star Banquet

The 5 Star Diner hides in plain sight, on 43rd Avenue and 21st Street in Long Island City. Don’t let the name confuse you. The 5 Star Diner has resided here for 68 years, just down the street from the East River with sweeping views of Midtown Manhattan. However, this is no traditional diner.

The 5 Star Diner is a casual restaurant serving outstanding Indian and Punjabi dishes at reasonable prices. The unassuming façade reveals a renovated, retro-chic diner look, complete with booths and stools at the counter with cool tile accents and soft lighting. The biggest surprise is just next door, where an impressive banquet hall is available for weddings, corporate functions, fundraisers, or other special occasions with accommodations for up to 600 people. The Gazette is proud to feature this banquet hall in this special bridal edition. Owner, Mr. Binder, and the full-service catering staff can customize your gala to meet every desire and budget. It’s important to note that 5 Star Banquet Hall can provide any type of cuisine you desire and is not limited to Indian cuisine. You can even rent the facility alone and bring in your own caterer. The plentiful parking and fantastic views of Manhattan will wow your guests. Call Mr. Binder at 5 Star Banquet to plan your special occasion in this easy-to-reach location. The E, F, and 7 trains are all close by.

The restaurant is open seven days a week for a buffet lunch at just $9.99 and dinner, served until 5 a.m. to accommodate all the late shift workers in the area and taxi drivers who come for the tasty Indian dishes made with fresh ingredients. It’s important to note that while all Indian food is flavorful, it isn’t all “hot and spicy”. All dishes here at 5 Star can be adjusted to our liking, but you’ll find that most dishes are mild, yet flavorful!

My friend and I started with an ice cold Indian beer or you may order a refreshing mango lassi, a traditional Indian drink made with cool yogurt and fruit. Appetizers include samosas, which are triangular shaped flaky pastries filled with savory potatoes, peas and mild spices. The accompanying tamarind sauce and chili sauce make for flavorful dipping ($2.50). The chef brought us a platter of delicately fried vegetables called mixed “pakora” that included potato, cauliflower, onions, spinach and chili. These batter dipped vegetables are light and crispy and perfect for sharing ($6.99). A bowl of homemade chicken soup, tomato soup or manchow soup will hit the spot, or enjoy a crunchy salad.

Next we were served perhaps the most tender tandoori chicken we had ever tasted. After marinating in yogurt, herbs and spices the chicken is then cooked in a clay tandoori oven, rendering it exceedingly tender, juicy and flavorful, without being spicy. Chicken tikka is prepared in a similar fashion while chicken tikka masala gets topped with a creamy sauce of coconut milk, red pepper and tomato ($10.99). Chicken seekh kababs are ground chicken mixed with fresh ginger, herbs and spices then cooked in the tandoor. Lamb chops and even fish are imparted with rich flavor from the tandoori oven.

Biryani rice dishes are satisfying and delicious, prepared with your choice of tender chunks of chicken, lamb, or traditional goat meat and savory rice for a traditional dish that is one of my favorites. The portions here are generous so lunch the next day was also a treat!

There are nearly a dozen vegetarian dishes such as “aloo gobhi” prepared with potatoes and cauliflower in spicy sauce. “Dal makhani” is a stew of black lentils cooked slowly for 12 hours with mild spices that is best eaten over a generous helping of fluffy basmati rice that accompanies this dish. “Sag paneer” uses spinach as its main ingredient, cooked with cubes of mild cheese. “Malai kofta” are gently fried vegetable balls cooked in mild sauce.

In Indian cuisine, bread is ordered separately, and comes in a number of tasty varieties. Naan bread is traditional, unleavened bread, somewhat like pita bread. Roti is a whole wheat variety of naan, while poori is a light, puffy, deep-fried bread. We loved the light and fluffy garlic naan and used it to soak up all the savory sauces on our plates.

Sweeten your palate with creamy Indian rice pudding, homemade cheese balls in sweetened milk or ice cream. The service is very pleasant and they are so helpful and kind, so please ask them any questions you may have. If you’re planning a wedding or any banquet of grand proportions, the 5 Star Banquet Hall is simply ideal. Please visit their Web site for more details.

Come for a fantastic Indian lunch buffet for just $9.99, served from 11am to 4pm, or dinner served until tomorrow morning!

13-05 43rd Ave., Long Island City, NY
Restaurant: 718.784.7444
For Catering: 718.784.8484

www.fivestardiner.com / www.fivestarbanquet.com

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