I had visited The Punjab once before many years ago but I was back again as the destination for my cousin’s birthday for dinner. Coming from the bright sunlight, we walked in to a very dark restaurant that is presented smartly. It takes a little time to adjust to the dim lights at first, but on reflection, the downlights present a nice ambience and makes it the ideal setting for an intimate dinner for 2 or a quiet meal with friends. The place was packed and there was a steady stream of people picking up take away orders so the place is obviously popular amongst the locals. After a reasonable wait, we were presented with our entrees. We started with 3 lots of the platter for 2 which contained 5 offerings of 2 pieces each. The platter contained:
- Tandoori tiger prawns – not a huge amount of flavour but nice
- Fish Amritsari – nice and crunchy, really like this but it contained a bone
- Punjabi Hariyali Tikka – haven’t had anything like this before and was the best out of the lot
- Seekh kebab – pretty good but a bit dry
- Vegetable Samosas – really delicious samosa
- A few sauces – sweet chilli, and a lovely mint chutney that wasn’t runny like some places I’ve gone before and are too minty. This was flavoursome yet controlled.
All up, 10 pieces for $25 which makes it $2.50 a piece, was really good value and a great start to the dinner.
With our mains, we ordered a few different types of breads – garlic naans, paneer kulcha, and Peshawari naan. We shared the breads around so I was fortunate to taste the others. The garlic naan was pretty good but had gone a bit dry by the time I ate it but the bread was light. I had the paneer kulcha which was delicious and the best Indian bread I’ve eaten. Really light, stuffed with paneer which is like ricotta and spiced. The Peshawari naan is quite different as it’s stuffed with spiced fruit and is a bit sweet compared to the savory breads and was tasty too. All up, the breads are the best I’ve eaten so far at an Indian restaurant so a big thumbs up from me.
The mains, on the other hand, were quite disappointing to my mind. We ordered the Saag meat which was cooked with spinach and contained a reasonable serving of tender lamb. This wasn’t too bad but lacked a lot flavour. It seemed the meat was cooked separately and then added to the curry (gravy) but the flavour didn’t penetrate through nor was the curry all that flavoursome. This also was consistent with the other main we ordered, chicken tikka masala. This really lacked flavour too. The chicken was tender and the serving reasonable, but I was really surprised to eat such food like this. Even if the food you eat at an Indian restaurant isn’t that great, it will contain a fair degree of flavour. The unusual thing is with Indian, you can cook it ahead of time and the flavour intensifies with time, in comparison to something like fish and chips which needs to be made then and there. Not sure why the food was lacking flavour. On a lighter note, given it was my cousin’s birthday, they were generous in also bringing out a dessert, kulfi, which is an Indian ice-cream, free of charge which was a nice gesture.
Verdict: I really loved the breads which are the best I’ve eaten at an Indian restaurant, particularly, the paneer kulcha. I could have kept eating only that all night long. The platter for 2 was also excellent but the mains were disappointing and lacked a lot of flavour. Indian food is such that it is cooked in spices to impart flavour, but can be mild, spicy or chilli hot. Our mains were mild but contained little flavour.
Taste: Delicious – breads and platter for 2
Taste: Average – mains
Recommendation: Recommend – definitely recommend trying the breads and the platter for 2, maybe the other menu choices are better, but given there’s a take away option, I’d be getting the breads as a take away and getting my mains from somewhere else.
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