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Tastebuds Tingle In Hicksville

Relocating to a new country can be intimidating enough, but taking on a brand-new occupation once you get there as well? It’s enough to make someone think twice about the whole thing and just stay put.

But not Kumar K. Chhetri, owner of New Chilli and Curry restaurant located at 106 Woodbury Road in Hicksville. Originally from Nepal, where he worked in the antique jewelry trade, Chhetri moved to the United States nearly 20 years ago for a change of scenery as well as a desire to try out a new career.

“I love to eat, I love to cook,” he said. “So I decided to get into that business since I thought it would be nice to do something that I loved for a living.”

Chhetri has been involved in the restaurant business for at least 20 years, he said, noting that he’s worked in Indian, Italian, and many other styles of eateries in the capacity of chef, manager, and (early on) even busboy. However, New Chilli and Curry, which has been open since 2008, marks the first time establishment he's owned.

“I knew it was the right time because I know the business inside and out,” he said. “So, when I had a little bit of money, I thought, why not open a small restaurant, according to my budget? It was a gamble. Whatever I owned for the past 13, 14 years, I put into here. And it’s paid off.”

New Chilli and Curry seats approximately 34 in a comfortable and vibrant setting. Chhetri, who is married and lives in Hicksville (his one son also works at the restaurant), notes that his eatery serves a unique cross-section of Asian and Indian-style dishes that can be seasoned to suit all tastes.

“We have fusion Indian/Chinese food, fusion Thai food, and regular Indian food. Some of our most popular dishes are barbecue chicken, rack of lamb chops...people love it,” he said. “First, I want to know how spicy you can handle it, and if you have any allergies. However you like it, I will make it to order and do my best to satisfy and make the customer happy. And they will definitely come back.”  

Such talk is not simply idle boasting, as we had a chance to sample some of Chhetri’s wares; the Malai Kabab, succulent pieces of chicken marinated with Indian herbs and almonds and served with a cashew nut paste, was a delicate and satisfying treat for the taste buds. The same could be said for the fried shrimp, which was wrapped in coconut powder and tossed with garlic and chili. This dish was an equal mix of spicy and smooth, with a vibrant flavor that had us begging for more.  

Positive public reaction to New Chilli and Curry has Chhetri thinking of the possibility of opening another establishment in the future, however, the harsh economic times have him exercising some caution when it comes to seeing if he can duplicate his first-time out success.

“I’m thinking about it and I’ve looked around a little, but the restaurant field is very tough,” he said. “It’s very expensive. Rent will kill you, especially in the restaurant business. But I’m looking and if it happens, it happens.”

Clearly, Chhetri’s dedication to great food and customer service have worked out wonderfully for him; one only has to visit New Chilli and Curry come dinner time to see that his many repeat customers are only more than happy to do whatever it takes just to get in the door, let alone get a table.

“We’ve very busy, especially at dinner time,” he said. “At dinner time, people wait an hour or even an hour and a half...they just wait. They’ll ask for a small glass of wine, or beer, or whatever they want, but they just wait, because the food is that good.”

News

Many would consider it rude to play with your food. That is unless, you’re participating in the Long Island Potato Festival. The event, which was held in Cutchogue, NY, included a mashed potato sculpting contest which was dominated by Hicksville’s Sarah Tsang, who won first place in the youth division.

Contestants were allowed to use any tools and materials to help bring their creation to life. Sculptures were left on display throughout the day and voted on by festival goers.

Some students returning to school the first day might see a new face on the bus: Hicksville’s new interim superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso.

“Every year on the first day of school I ride one of the buses. To see the face of a kindergartener on that first ride just reminds you of why you’re in the field,” he says.


Sports

Somehow LSA, the Levittown Swimming Association, has always been a part of our Hicksville summers. My family’s introduction to the organization in 1975 began when our two older daughters tried out for the Parkway Swim Team, one of the nine teams that competed through July and most of August.

It was no small task for the younger girl, swimming her first full lap in the deep end of the pool to qualify at age six, but both girls made the team and donned the coveted gray tee shirts as the trees cast their shadows over the pool water at the end of practice.

I’m convinced that the soul and the center of Hicksville is Cantiague Park. And why not? Every weekend it’s a beehive of activity ranging from tennis matches, hand ball games, basketball and baseball games, swimming, hockey and of course ‘the beautiful game’ called soccer. Cantiague has two professional soccer fields that are perfectly manicured and begging to be played on. And they were. This weekend was the finals of the East Meadow Soccer Tournament which is one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the nation, sponsored by the US Soccer Federation. There were 18 boys and girls teams in the finals and a large staff of referees.

Two of the refs were Steven Orozco and Randy Vogt who told me how soccer had been growing and has now become the second most popular participation sport in America with 25 million of us watching this year’s World Cup.  I also met and interviewed Joe Codispoti who along with Tim Bradbury is the head coach of Rockville Centre United, a U16 boys club.  This U16 team has a group of standout players led by  Jack Graziano, AJ Codispoti and Pat Basile who have been playing together for six years.


Calendar

Close Encounters with Benevolent ETs and Ascended Masters

August 29

Adventures in Genealogy

September 4

Greek Festival

September 5-7



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com