Every year around the holidays, I go to New York City to meet my friend Rose for lunch and a little Christmas shopping. For the past few years, we have chosen different Indian restaurants for our holiday lunch, but after Monday, Pongal Restaurant is our new favorite.
I love Indian cuisine and enjoy reading Indian cookbook author Rinku Bhattacharya’s website CookinginWestchester.com. Her new book The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles is on my Christmas wish-list. When she posted photos of her recent dining experience at Pongal Restaurant, a vegetarian kosher Indian restaurant on Lexington Avenue, I made a mental note to check it out with Rose.
We were the first and only customers at noon, but by the time we left around 1:30pm, Pongal was packed. The menu at Pongal features 16 different kinds of dosas, an Indian crispy crepe. They also offer a selection of Thalis, which are incredibly yummy and fun to eat. A Thali usually comes with 6-10 tiny serving bowls of different dishes served on a large tin platter with Indian bread.
We both ordered mulligatawny soup to start and shared a masala dosa, a crepe filled with buttery potatoes and onions. Rose claimed the masala dosa was the best Indian dish she ever tasted! I'd have to say it was the best I've tasted outside of India. The Thali arrived as we were taking our last bites of the dosal. Rose had the Gujarathi Lunch Thali (eggplant dish, dahl, rice, poori, raita), and I had the Mumbai Lunch Thali (chapati, dahl, 2 rice dishes, chickpea dish, raita). We didn't have room for dessert, so I had chai, which was good though I wish they served it sweet like they do in India. The bill was $51, which I think was a good deal considering we had 3 appetizers, 2 entrees, wine, mango lassi, chai, coffee, and bursting bellies upon leaving.
The service was very efficient. The food came out quickly, but they didn't rush us at all. I would definitely recommend Pongal Restaurant if you are looking for a really good South Indian cuisine on the Lower East Side. Pongal Restaurant, 110 Lexington Avenue (between 27th & 28th Streets) New York, NY