Punjabi Tadka Arlington
Punjabi Tadka in Arlington opened this week so I decided to give them a try for lunch today.
You get one piece of Papad to munch on while waiting for your food. The Onion Chutney was very good, not as spicy as most places but very tasty.
Went with my old favorite, Chicken Saag and the chicken was tender and moist, I would have liked the spinach a bit more "runny" but it was very flavorful. Ordered it medium and it was on the mild side. Prices are comparable to Punjab up the street but no soup or linen napkins but a portion that could have feed two people. Good value for the money and very pleasant service, but I was also the only customer in the place. The tableware was very sleek and modern.
They also offer a lunch Thali that I can't wait to try, vegetarian $9.95 and meat $10.95 and one more with a Samosa added (I think) for $11.95 and also the same in Tiffin to go version, $7.95 and 8.95 respectively. The full menu looks pretty standard including Dosas. The interior looks pretty much the same, repainted and new carpets.
444 Mass Ave, Arlington 02474
They now serve a 15 course lunch buffet 7 days a week according to the sign outside so I decided to give them a try today. The sign should have read 15 items... Standard Indian buffet items, the salads and condiments looked fresh and the food was surprisingly good and now had actual flavors. Not sure what happened to the normally bland food but this was good and really tasty. I even had to ask if they had a new chef but it's the same one. The best dish was probably the Potatoes and Cabbage dish that had really good flavors. Surprisingly pleasant lunch and the price of $9.95 is in line with everyone else.
It's just over a year since my first posting and I haven't been back for about six months so I decided it was time for another lunch visit. The condiment tray still looks bad but the good news is that, for the first time ever, my Chicken Saag actually had flavor and a bit of heat and was really good. You used to get papadams with the lunch but nothing today. I was the only customer and the service was pretty much absent. I had to ask for the condiments, get their attention behind the bar for water refills and for the bill.
Decided to give them another try since Punjab doesn't serve lunch if there is even a hint of a holiday. Tried the Chicken Saag for lunch and the good thing is that the amount of chicken you get is plenty but unfortunately the food is still very bland. The chicken was tender and moist, so no complains there. There was a sign on the windows for discounts on both takeout and eat in.
I have been alternating on Mondays between these guys and Punjab up the street. Punjabi's non vegetarian lunch menu, apart from the Tali and the Nan sandwiches seems to be either Saag or generic "Curry" as far as choices goes so it was time to try the "Curry".
Chicken Curry from the lunch menu, never got asked what level of spiciness I desired. They did ask last week and I said hot and the Chicken Saag come out without any trace of heat whatsoever, but when I pointed this out they brought out something to spice things up and that helped. The curry itself was very sweet but apart from a taste of tomato, it was really pretty bland. Salt didn't really help but a good amount of the onion chutney helped. Come to think about it, last weeks Chicken Saag was also very bland. On the good side, chicken was plentiful and cooked nicely. Service was very good but since I was the only customer, how could it not be!
Since Punjab in Arlington doesn't serve from the lunch menu on anything resembling a holiday but Punjabi Tadka up the street does, the choice of Indian fare was easy.
Ordered the Aloo Palak and for something that was described as Potatoes cooked with chopped spinach there was a minuscule amount of potatoes in the dish. Four small pieces were all that I found. The dish itself was bland and slightly sweet but a good dollop of the Onion Chutney balanced out the dish nicely.
Decided to see if the served lunch on Holiday and lucky for me they did.
I had seen other pople order this and I couldn't wait to try it. This is the Non-Vegetarian Thali on the lunch menu. Lamb Curry, tender lamb and the portion was big enough for a meal in itself. Tandoori chicken was nicely marinated and really juicy and tender and cooked on the bone. Dal Makhani was really good as well. The Seekh Kabab contained ground lamb, chopped onions and spices and was tasty and moist. Raita was included but left untouched, don't like yogurt in any form. Rice was again perfectly cooked and so was the Naan.
Went back to try a Thali.
This does qualify as a Thali according to Wikipedia even if I prefer the more traditional one with soup, chutney and dessert added. However, this was really good, chickpeas, lentils and spinach with plenty of basmati rice. Everything was piping hot and very flavorful, only complaint was that the naan was undercooked in the middle. Not really a problem since there was plenty of food. Got two pieces of Papad today. This is probably three of my favorite Indian vegetarian dishes so I was happy.
The website is (sort of) up. http://www.punjabitadkaarlington.net/
My wife and I just went there for lunch and really lked it. We shared 2 thali trays, the veg and non veg and got a nice sampling of tandoori chicken, lamb curry, saag paneer, dal, channa masala, basmati rice, and a LOT of naan. The curries had more of a pronounced tomato flavor than I've typically had...very nice. Not a lot of marinade on the tandoori chicken, but hot and moist and nicely flavored. Went to the salt shaker a few times on the lamb but nicely cooked.
Everything tasted really fresh and the service was quick, attentive and quite friendly. The chutneys were really nice though the tamarind was quite sweet. Coriander/mint and onion were really fresh and delicious. Prices seem quite reasonable and the main menu looks really nice. I'm planning to be a regular here, I hope they keep this level of performance and succeed in this seemingly unlucky space.