Color, Light and Indian Food at Milon (aka “The Upper Left”)

Mark and I stood, last week, facing the building you see in the blurry picture below:

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We were on 1st Ave. and Mark sang the praises of a meal he’d consumed in this very building a few weeks earlier. “I just can’t remember which restaurant it was,” he said. “The upper left or the lower right?”

Just as he said that a man emerged from the lower right. [Note: You can’t tell by the picture, but there are two restaurants below the restaurants you can see.] The man said “Hello” but it wasn’t clear he was talking to us. Then he did something I’ll never forget. He took a piece of paper, crumpled it up and threw it at Mark. “Come to my restaurant,” he said. “It’s very good.”

In my history of dining I’ve seen many tactics used to lure diners inside: all you can eat shrimp, topless dancers, free hot fudge sundaes. But paper throwing?

“Let’s go to the upper left,” I said and Mark concurred.

Once inside the upper left (restaurant Milon, if we’re going to be proper about it) I began to wonder if on that piece of crumpled paper was airborne LSD: was I tripping or did the room really look like this?

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Picture yourself on a boat on a river with tangerine trees and Indian food…

“Adam? Adam are you ok?”

Mark pulled me out of my trance. A waiter led us to our table and I stared transfixed at the ceiling.

“It’s like a magical electrical Indian wonderland,” I said.

“Isn’t it great?” said Mark.

I snapped another photo:

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And then a waiter asked us if we wanted anything to drink.

“I’ll have a gingerale,” said Mark.

“What the hell,” I said. “I’m not driving–I’ll have one too.”

We studied our menus and the prices astounded me.

“These prices astound me!” I said. “It’s so cheap.”

“I know,” said Mark. “That’s why I love this place.”

We agreed to share coconut samosas because where else can you get coconut samosas? Here they are, once delivered:

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What did they taste like? Well to be honest they tasted like fried dough with shredded coconut shoved inside. But is that bad? Of course that’s not bad. What could be bad with all that color and light?

“These are trippy,” I said.

As for our food, I couldn’t believe how much they gave us for so little money.

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Nan, rice, two chicken dishes (mine had almonds in it, but I can’t remember much else) and then a bowl with weird stuff in it.

“What’s in that?” I asked Mark.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “I’d avoid it.”

The food was decent–I’m not writing home about it (ok, I lied, I just wrote an e-mail: “Dear Mom, I ate Indian food last week and someone threw a piece of paper at my friend”)–but the environment and decor (have I mentioned the decor?) made up for it. And then, as if there could possibly be any more stimulation, the lights started flashing. It was someone’s birthday. Thank goodness I’d discovered the video feature on my camera!

And then, just to gild the lily, they brought us free mango ice cream:

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Eating at a restaurant is about stimulation. Most of us go to stimulate our tastebuds, but few of us go to stimulate our eyes. Restaurant Milon affords you that opportunity, but just be wary of the competing restauranteurs nearby. As Mark and I left, the proprietor of Upper Right literally GLARED at us through the glass door of his restaurant.

“That man hates us,” said Mark.

“I know,” I said.

We scurried down the stairs and leapt past the flying paper from Lower Right. Visual stimulation at dinner has its price.

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