18 Murray St.
(between Broadway & Church St.)
New York, NY 10007
 
Taj Tribeca, which originally opened last year under the name Indian Express, is located on the edge of the Financial District—an area that doesn't produce high dining expectations.

Though the eatery could probably get by serving generically spiced, crowd-pleasing curries, owner Shekhar Gowda (Earthen Oven) and chef Alexander Xalxo (Tamarind, Earthen Oven) insist on delivering thoughtfully crafted Pan-Indian dishes.

On a recent evening, diners were enjoying the graceful service and elegant space, tastefully decorated with carved-wood–framed mirrors and an unobtrusive water wall.

From the start, the atten¬tion to authentic spicing is apparent. Two spongy crab cakes exhibited a mild and pleasant fishiness that was matched by a peppery heat, while tomato soup featured fruity liquid inflected with fennel seeds and cooling cilantro.

An entree of three lamb chops, reasonably priced at $19.95, was cooked through in the tandoor, but the garlic-and-ginger-marinated meat remained exceptionally tender and completely enjoyable.

The Goan shrimp curry's oconut-tomato sauce had a pungent funk that was so intriguing, we were compelled to inquire about it, prompting the staff to bring us unsolicited samples of tirphal and kokum, two rare spices, to take home.

Even desserts transcended the usual syrupy confections: A chunky carrot pudding’s vegetal element balanced the sugar, and tangy-sweet strained yogurt was flavored with saffron, cardamom and fresh apple. Don't just pass through this crossroads—it’s worth stopping for a bite.