23 Reasons to Sample Mehtani Restaurant Group

Mehtani Restaurant GroupDo you grab a chance to dine on Indian cuisine and tumble into its unique mix of spices and textures whenever you can? Do you love Asian food that’s several steps beyond standard takeout fare? Do you enjoy settling into a quiet table with subtle but lush décor catching your eye from every angle? Do you like a wildly lovely cocktail served in a bar so dark and mysterious that the bartender shines a miniature light into your glass to demonstrate the color of your libation before delivering it into your eager hands?

If your answers to the above are yes, yes, yes, and take me there now, you’ll certainly enjoy the array of options offered by the Mehtani Restaurant Group. With properties in Morristown and Edison, there is much to explore. Here are 23 reasons to consider doing so:

1. Mehndi, housed in Morristown’s Headquarters Plaza, serves authentic Punjabi and Mughalai dishes that range from classic tandooris and biryanis to modern creations like Paneer ke Sholay, which combines homemade Indian cottage cheese (baked rather than fried) celery, carrot, and cabbage stuffing.

2. Six varieties of naan include rosemary naan, a chili-inflected paneer naan, and a deliciously seed-packed masala naan. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.

3. The restaurant is gorgeous, balancing spaciousness with an intimate feel. Admire the traditional elements paired with modern textures, and gaze up to enjoy the 23 cream-colored Murano glass chandeliers that give the room its warm feel.

4. A henna tattoo artist offers complimentary temporary adornment to patrons every Friday and Saturday throughout dinner.

Girls showing off their tattoos provided by an on-site artist at Mehndi.
Henna tattoos provided by an on-site artist at Mehndi. Photo (c) Igor Alovert, 2013

5. Mehndi offers a lunch buffet that lets you sample a range of delicious dishes.

6. Ming II, also in Headquarters Plaza, offers “reinvented” pan-Asian cuisine, drawing from Chinese, Malaysian, Thai, and other Eastern influences. Curry, garlic, chili, hoisin, ginger, sesame, coconut, and soy are everywhere on the menu of small plates, soups, salads, entrees, and noodle dishes.

7. The menu combines classic dishes like Pad Thai, MaPo Tofu, and Chinese Fried Shrimp with inventive new ones like Steamed Whole Fish with Ginger, Sliced Lamb Massaman, and Eggplant, Potato, and Beans with Red Curry.

8. Stepping inside this restaurant is like sliding into a smooth wooden cave. Soothingly quiet and gently lit, it’s a modern twist on the typical crowd-filled Chinese restaurant.

9. A daily lunch special at Ming II is geared toward the office lunch-break crowd, offering an appetizer, entrée, and accompaniment served without delay for $15.

10. Between Mehndi and Ming II, and servicing each, is SM23 Bar & Lounge. If you haven’t been to SM23 before, stop now and check out the photos on their site.

11. The head bartender is brilliant. Knowledgeable, engaging, and talented. Peruse the cocktail menu and enjoy something truly different – but ask for an explanation first. Listening to the enthusiastic description is half the fun.

12. Need privacy for a tête-à-tête? SM23 is the answer. It’s like the physical embodiment of a secret.

13. The menu here offers small plates from Mehndi and Ming II so you can make an evening of it if you don’t care to give up your shadowy hideaway.

14. Cocktail selections change with the seasons, but signature drinks made with all fresh ingredients include Grilled Pineapple & Cracked Pepper Martini, SM23Bellini; Pink Grapefruit Mojito made with Ten Cane rum, and Mint & Ginger (Farmer’s gin, fresh mint, ginger beer, lime juice, simple syrup). An extensive wine list, draft beer, sake, and spirits are also available.

15. Parking is validated for the Headquarters Plaza lot when visiting any of the three venues here.
Mehndi photo036044

16. The Mehtani Group’s presence in Edison is equally impressive, having served as the starting point in New Jersey for the family-owned venture. Moghul, serving classic Northern Indian cuisine, opened on Oak Tree Road in 1991 as a spin-off from its namesake location in NYC.

17. Ming, offering Far Eastern/Asian fusion, both inspired its Morristown counterpart and yielded its outstanding chef, Michael Chu.

18. A completely different atmosphere than Ming II, Ming is open, bright, and visually enticing with antique kimonos mounted as artwork.

19. Moghul’s menu of traditional Indian food requires multiple visits to try it all. Slow-cooked meats, marvelous spices, beautifully crafted rice dishes, fresh breads, and fragrant tea. Go ahead, try to stop eating.

20. Mirage is the company’s private banquet hall that can host weddings, birthdays, corporate events, and more, with dinner seating for 450 or cocktails for up to 750 guests in its 7,000-square-foot ballroom. It features a marble dance floor, projectors, drop-down screens, and wi-fi access. Catering from any of the Mehtani Group’s restaurants is available, and outside catering is allowed if preferred.

21. Sneh Mehtani, the trailblazing founder of this regional empire, was named Restaurateur of the Year in 2013 by the New Jersey Restaurant Association. She is the first Asian to win the award.

22. Mrs. Mehtani, in partnership with her husband, Satish Mehtani, has shared the success of the family business by supporting Jersey Battered Women’s Service; Manavi, the Women’s Rehabilitation Group; and the International Mission of Mercy, founded by Mr. Mehtani.

23. Shaun Mehtani, trained since childhood by his parents’ example, conceptualized and brought to life the entire Morristown project at age 23. Today, he is managing director of the group and promises a refined, eclectic, and delicious experience at any of the Mehtani locations. He is a very gracious host and will gladly recount the company’s history, the menu’s highlights, the allure of henna tattoos, or any details you wish to inquire of him. Be sure to ask after his lucky number while you’re at it.

Morristown 8 Headquarters Plaza, 3 Speedwell Avenue, Morristown, NJ 07960

Mehndi, Ming II, SM23: 973.871.2323 (central reservation system)

Edison 1655 Oak Tree Road, Edison, NJ 08820

· Moghul: 732.549.5050

· Ming: 732.549.5051

· Mirage: 732.947.3000

Deanna Quinones is the Jersey Bites Regional Editor for Morris County. A freelance writer, blogger, and unrepentant chocolate addict, Deanna spent 20 years in the San Francisco Bay Area where life was good and the burritos even better. She recently returned to the Garden State and now resides in Morristown, where she and her Texas-born/Jersey-raised/California-found husband are raising two wild and wonderful kids. An experienced book marketer, award-winning greeting card writer, and entertainment writing dabbler, Deanna can be reached at deannaq@optimum.net. (photo credit Pete Genovese/The Star-Ledger)