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Tastebuds Set Aflame At New Chilli And Curry

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 with a desire to try out a new career as well.

“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 he’s actually owned his own establishment.

“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 had had 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.”

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