was just in pongal recently.. especially with all the tables filled up and all that i have heard about it.
i got the bhel puri (snack appetizer) and then the Indian thali.. which has a bit of everything..
i was not happy with the bhel puri at all.. couldnt get any more bland than that... no spice.. no lemon juice.. no taste.. all the street food dishes of india have that lip smacking taste to it.. considering the price i would have expected better bhel puri
the thali was alright.. i also got puri with it.. which were huge in size!
overall i think i will continue at chennai garden instead..
i give pongal a big plus on the decor.. but when it comes to the culinary taste.. it just doesnt hit it right for me! i would rather head somewhere with great food and ok atmosphere than the other way around (unless ofcourse u are taking a date to pongal)... dont order the bhel
Pongal (Lex btw 27/28) is my overall favorite.
Chennai Garden (27th btw Lex/Park) is your best bet for buffet lunch or for dosas.
Roomali (28th btw Lex/3rd) is fun for quick-service wraps. Nice and spicy.
For the really cheap steam-table fare, my favorite is New Niamat Kada (Lex btw 28/29), followed closely by Haandi (Lex btw 27/28). Both have combo platters for around $6, including fresh naan baked on the premises. Haandi always has more options, but I find the food a bit more consistent at New Niamat Kada.
I just revisited Curry Leaf this afternoon for lunch, and was underwhelmed by the lunch special. My saag paneer had a grand total of 2 tiny cubes of cheese in it. The best thing I tasted was the tandoori platter - they managed to keep the chicken nice and moist.
Vatan is a bit more expensive than all the other places mentioned. It's fun, in that you get to sit on the floor with your shoes off, and they give you an assortment of small plates, with unlimited refills of the ones you like.
Wow. Is this post from a long time ago. Well, in case people are still discussing this: my votes, in descending order of preference:
Saravanaas - 81 Lexington Ave on NE corner of 26th St
Pongal - 110 Lexington Ave btwn 26th & 27th
Chennai Garden - 129 E. 27th btwn Park & Lex (tie)
Madras Mahal - 104 Lexington Ave btwn 27th & 28th