Annam Brahma – 63.4 to 63.6 decibels

Photo credit: Jeanine Botta

Photo credit: Jeanine Botta

By Jeanine Botta

I discovered Annam Brahma years ago while walking through Queens, searching for a cold drink on a hot day.  I’ve returned dozens of times since, alone, with family, and with friends, and I’ve ordered food for large and small parties from the catering menu.  Others find the restaurant through reviews or word of mouth or in vegetarian restaurant guides.  One of four restaurants in Queens run by students of the late Sri Chinmoy, an artist, poet, and spiritual teacher who encouraged vegetarian diet, meditation, and fitness, Annam Brahma attracts diners from all over the world.

On a recent visit, I placed an order of soup, salad, and appetizers for a party of eight from the catering menu and also ordered a small meal. My meal began with a cup of ginger and honey tea selected from a drink menu, followed by a cup of dal, a savory lentil soup that is very popular.  I also ordered a samosa, a potato filled pastry, and bhajiia, a lightly spiced fritter, both served with chutney.

Annam Brahma serves vegetarian and vegan Indian cuisine, but it also features vegetarian Chinese, Italian, and American options on certain days.  The restaurant has long featured an international smorgasbord on Sundays, but at the time of this writing the website states that the Sunday smorgasbord is not available. The menu includes Indian breads, desserts, coffees and teas, as well as omelettes, sandwiches, and a delicious selection of vegetarian burgers.

Annam Brahma is quiet enough to lose oneself in a book in a cozy corner or to chat with companions easily without straining to hear or be heard. There is subtle instrumental music playing in the background, but it is never loud or distracting. The dining room is decorated with Sri Chinmoy’s paintings and other artwork (greeting cards featuring Chinmoy’s art, displayed along one wall, are available for purchase). The space is soothing and visually appealing, open and airy with a distinct rustic charm.

To reach Annam Brahma by subway, take the Jamaica-bound F train to Parsons Boulevard, walk up the hill along the two-lane boulevard, turn right on 85th Avenue, and walk five blocks to 164th Street.  Alternatively, you can take the 65 bus from the Parsons Boulevard F train station, but it might be worth skipping the wait for a bus and walking.  If traveling by car, Annam Brahma is four blocks east of the Grand Central Parkway, and street parking is available. The surrounding Jamaica Hills neighborhood is safe, friendly, and walkable.

Annam Brahma is cash only.

HOURS

Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Wednesday: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (near 85th Avenue), Jamaica, Queens, NY 11432

WEBSITE

Annam Brahma

Homestead Gourmet Shop — 71.2 decibels

Photo credit: Jeanine Botta

By Jeanine Botta

Online reviewers recommend the Homestead Gourmet Shop in Kew Gardens for its delicious homemade salads, authentic Polish and German specialty foods, highly praised apple, cherry, and cheese strudel, its friendly staff, and its charm. Regular customers and first time visitors enjoy the delicatessen’s authentic eastern European ambience, which will transport you to another place and time. But the Homestead has another authentic dimension, and that is its acoustic quality. You’ll hear sale interactions, conversations, and laughter, but that’s all you hear–there is no music or television playing in the background.

The acoustic dimension of a space is often ignored, but it takes a lot of work to create authentic soundscapes that reflect historical periods in theatrical productions. Soundscape researchers who focus on the aural environments of historic places propose that understanding the soundscape of a historic site has the potential to add a new layer of knowledge about the site’s past. In a space like the Homestead, its uncluttered soundscape may sound much as it did a century ago, when the space’s first occupant was a grocery store and delicatessen.

Photo credit: Jeanine Botta

The Homestead has counter service, and most customers take out their purchases, but there are two tables that each seat four. The closest subway station is Union Turnpike, where the E and F trains stop, and the Homestead is a ten-minute walk. You can also reach Kew Gardens by Long Island Railroad from Penn Station or from Jamaica.

The Homestead Gourmet Shop alone is worth the trip to Kew Gardens, but the village itself is absolutely charming. A few blocks away, Forest Park features several walking paths, and Kew Gardens Cinemas is right up the block, a five-screen multiplex featuring first run independent films and a lobby with its original Art Deco style preserved.

HOURS

Monday  Closed

Tuesday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

LOCATION

81-45 Lefferts Boulevard (at the corner of Cuthbert Road), Kew Gardens, Queens, NY 11415

WEBSITE

No website

Annam Brahma – 63.4 to 63.6 decibels

Photo credit: Jeanine Botta

By Jeanine Botta

I discovered Annam Brahma years ago while walking through Queens, searching for a cold drink on a hot day.  I’ve returned dozens of times since, alone, with family, and with friends, and I’ve ordered food for large and small parties from the catering menu.  Others find the restaurant through reviews or word of mouth or in vegetarian restaurant guides.  One of four restaurants in Queens run by students of the late Sri Chinmoy, an artist, poet, and spiritual teacher who encouraged vegetarian diet, meditation, and fitness, Annam Brahma attracts diners from all over the world.

On a recent visit, I placed an order of soup, salad, and appetizers for a party of eight from the catering menu and also ordered a small meal. My meal began with a cup of ginger and honey tea selected from a drink menu, followed by a cup of dal, a savory lentil soup that is very popular.  I also ordered a samosa, a potato filled pastry, and bhajiia, a lightly spiced fritter, both served with chutney.

Annam Brahma serves vegetarian and vegan Indian cuisine, but it also features vegetarian Chinese, Italian, and American options on certain days.  The restaurant has long featured an international smorgasbord on Sundays, but at the time of this writing the website states that the Sunday smorgasbord is not available. The menu includes Indian breads, desserts, coffees and teas, as well as omelettes, sandwiches, and a delicious selection of vegetarian burgers.

Annam Brahma is quiet enough to lose oneself in a book in a cozy corner or to chat with companions easily without straining to hear or be heard. There is subtle instrumental music playing in the background, but it is never loud or distracting. The dining room is decorated with Sri Chinmoy’s paintings and other artwork (greeting cards featuring Chinmoy’s art, displayed along one wall, are available for purchase). The space is soothing and visually appealing, open and airy with a distinct rustic charm.

To reach Annam Brahma by subway, take the Jamaica-bound F train to Parsons Boulevard, walk up the hill along the two-lane boulevard, turn right on 85th Avenue, and walk five blocks to 164th Street.  Alternatively, you can take the 65 bus from the Parsons Boulevard F train station, but it might be worth skipping the wait for a bus and walking.  If traveling by car, Annam Brahma is four blocks east of the Grand Central Parkway, and street parking is available. The surrounding Jamaica Hills neighborhood is safe, friendly, and walkable.

Annam Brahma is cash only.

HOURS

Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Wednesday: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (near 85th Avenue), Jamaica, Queens, NY 11432

WEBSITE

Annam Brahma