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Jun 19, 2007 11:49 AM

Vindaloo at Punjab Palace vs. India Quality

So I had a slightly, but only slightly, disappointing first experience at Punjab Palace today. I ordered the Vindaloo, a favorite of mine at IQ where they can really make it painful (which I like).

The waiter warned me that i was very spicy, but as usual I said "make it as spicy as possible." However, while the vindaloo was delicious, it just did not pack the fire that it usually does at IQ. Also, a bit more distressing, my basmati rice seemed undercooked. Still, I can tell from the taste of the vindaloo that this will be a restaurant with the same attention to quality as, well, India Quality.

I briefly chatted with the owner afterwards. I told him that I thuoght the vindaloo at IQ was spicier, which is how I liked it. He apologized more than necessary...I wasn't complaining, just chatting...and he told me that the green chiles he uses can be rather variable in their heat. I can understand that. I asked about the liquor license and he seemed to think it might be a little while before they can get one.

Still I think this great for the neighborhood. The no liquor is a bit of a bummer for dining in, but for takeout I cant see ever picking Rangoli over this place. I can't wait to go back and try the madras and the korma.

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  1. I'm a fan of India Quality and Punjab Palace as well. I order everything "as spicy as possible" also (that's actually a line I use). I can't say I've noticed any big differences between the two restaurants in terms of spiciness or quality.

    Another restaurant to try near Punjab Palace is Salt & Grain. My experience with Salt & Grain is, unfortunately, that they simply don't prepare very spicy dishes. You could easily be disappointed because the food lacks that oomph. However, the cooking is unique, refined, and worth a try.

    I don't think I will ever try Rangoli because I've been to the sister restaurant Tanjore several times and I think it's good but not great.

    6 Replies
    1. re: aventinus

      FWIW, I don't think that Punjabi dishes are as naturally spicy as say, some of the Tamil ones, for example. I find the spice levels for the Punjabi dishes at S&G OK and I would expect a lot more heat if I was eating at a place serving Tamil (or Goan) food. Of course it's also a matter of personal taste.

      1. re: limster

        I've eaten a huge amount of Indian food, but nonetheless my knowledge of Indian food breaks down (semantically, not geographically) into "North Indian" (the typical stuff) and "South Indian" (the dhosas, chaat, and uttapam). Sort of like being able to distinguish between red and white wines I guess.

      2. re: aventinus

        Quick correction: it's Grain and Salt, not Salt and Grain.

        I like Punjab Palace a lot too, but I've never understood the concepts that Indian has to be hot to be good, or that all Indian food is hot. It always reminds me of a sketch in the British comedy series Goodness Gracious Me where a group of rowdy South Asians order dinner in an English restaurant: "Just bring me the blandest thing on the menu, yeah? As flavorless as you can make it!"

        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

          It certainly doesn't have to be. But Vindaloo is a spicy dish.

          1. re: tamerlanenj

            Yes, of course. I was referring more to Aventinus' rather unnecessary caveat that the dishes at Grain and Salt tend not to be spicy. They aren't spicy because with a few exceptions, G&S doesn't focus on spicy dishes!

        2. re: aventinus

          My line whenever ordering vindaloo at IQ never varies: "Tell the chef to kill me."