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NoMad Neighbors: Anita Jaisinghani and Ajna Jai of Pondicheri

pondicheri new york to open in nomad

In addition to Grammy-winning entertainment, the upcoming NoMad Alliance benefit, This is NoMad, will feature incredible samplings of food from the neighborhood. One of the featured restaurants is the James Beard-endorsed Pondicheri, helmed by owner and Chef Anita Jaisinghani.

Chef Anita Jaisinghani works with her daughter Ajna Jai at Pondicheri’s NoMad location, with Ajna serving as General Manager of the eatery. It turns out that Ajna is incredibly talented in many areas including cooking and bartending as well as acting and writing! She has appeared as an actress on CBS and Showtime and has also published an article about her famous mother in Bon Appétit.

We sat down with both mother and daughter to hear why the restaurant is participating in the NoMad Alliance benefit and learn about their favorite spots in the neighborhood:

Why are you excited to be involved in the NoMad benefit?

Chef Anita Jaisinghani: Since my daughter Ajna started attending Stella Adler school of acting a few years ago, I have been coming to NYC and enjoyed watching this area evolve into a genuine neighborhood. We were excited to be a part of it and look forward to seeing it continue to grow over the years.

Ajna Jai: When I started school at Stella Adler there was nowhere to eat or have coffee around NoMad, and now, there are so many options! It’s such a great part of town, so I’m excited to be involved with the NoMad benefit. 

Why did you choose NoMad for your business?

Ajna: It appears to provide a healthy future for businesses. There is so much satisfaction in being a part of an upcoming neighborhood and being able to contribute to its rise. 

How does being in NoMad influence your business?

Ajna: Being part of an upcoming neighborhood is as exciting as it is tough. It’s exciting to be part of this new area but it has been tough because people assume there are no restaurants on this block. So, we are doing everything we can to let them know we are here!  

anja jai pondicheri

When family and friends are visiting, where do you make sure to take them in NoMad?

Chef Anita: Eataly of course! The first time I went there, I had to be dragged out four hours later. I dream of a day when we will have an Indian version of Eataly—imagine the colors and aromas! It would be a feast for the senses. 

Ajna: Eataly, the Ace Lobby, Madison Square Park, ilili—because I think it’s the best Lebanese food in town—and Rizzoli, because I’m so glad we have a bookstore in the area. 

What is the best spot in the neighborhood to go on a date?

Ajna: Nomad Bar is unbelievable. It has great drinks and service. If I can’t find a seat, I’ve been going next door to Ulvio which has a sweet little bar with great drinks and lovely staff.  

What’s your go-to spot for morning coffee?

Ajna: Definitely Birch or Stumptown.

Favorite art installation or corner for people watching at Madison Square Park?

Chef  Anita: I loved the elephant installation in the park (Martin Puryear’s Big Bling) and the benches are perfect to sit on and decompress.

Ajna: I love sitting in the middle of the park and being surrounded by all the trees. It’s such a great get-away from the restaurant when I have a break in the afternoon.  

Do you have a favorite block in the neighborhood?

Ajna: Ours! 27th Street, between 5th & Broadway.

What’s the most under-the-radar spot in NoMad?

Ajna: I would have to say Bombay Sandwich – it’s a great little restaurant that serves awesome Indian food and a great cardamom coffee. 

Meet these interesting neighbors and more at the benefit on October 2nd at the Gansevoort Park Hotel.  We look forward to seeing you there to celebrate how far the neighborhood has come and lay the groundwork for an even brighter future.  Get your ticket for This Is NoMad today!

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