In these anything-goes, high-concept times, I don’t question Vik and Sienam Lulla’s daring to bring Chinese with an Indian flourish to Manhattan. Still, I’m surprised by the splendidly revved-up flavors at I-Chin. Yes, I’m sneezing and I feel peppery heat coming out of my ears. Yet I couldn’t be happier with the fiercely peppered ribbons of stir-fried chicken the waiter just snipped free of its banana-leaf girdle. Other starters—spiced lamb rolls with cilantro-mint chutney and nicely gummy seafood dim sum in chile oil—are good, too. Crisp-fried okra sticks to dip into a coriander-infused puddle are original and instantly addictive. After the incendiary chicken, silky wok-tossed Szechuan lamb seems surprisingly gentle alongside capsicum fried rice. Non-chile-freaks will be grateful. A side of mint chutney one of my pals requested adds an extra nuance. A half-rack of crusty soy-tamarind-glazed lamb, ordered rare, means there are eight small and luscious chops for the four of us to share. That’s a must-have. Pan-seared sea bass in a chile-orange reduction infused with fennel seeds, and the black tiger shrimp in a chile-and-cilantro pesto curry are pleasant, too. A tangerine-painted niche shelters an ecumenical collection of Buddhas: Chinese, Indian, and Female. Simple and effective. Each nation touched by the Chinese-restaurant diaspora adds its own inflection to the cuisine; this is India’s, filtered through the sophistication of a clever duo from Delhi.
247 E. 50th St. nr. Second Ave. 212 223 4959