Monday, May 4, 2009

The Pongal @ Billerica, MA

Hubby and I enjoy Indian food, so we’re always game to try new Indian restaurants especially when they offer a buffet spread. Although it’s hard to judge the restaurant and their food by their buffet spread, we like it as it gives us less headache from trying to choose an entree or two of the menu. Plus, it’s always fun to be able to sample everything and take more of something you like better.Pongal-2Over the weekend, the usual suspects; Seyda, Rob and us ventured for some Indian cuisine at The Pongal in Billerica, MA. The place was said to be pretty good. We were one of the first few customers at noon, the dining hall looked very decent, and they seem to have a good buffet variety of Indian cuisine on chaffing dishes.

The place soon began to fill up with Indian families coming in for Sunday lunch. I guess the place must be pretty good and authentic if it’s patrons are mostly Indians.

We enjoyed some Mango Lassi, which is sort like a Mango Yogurt Drink, perhaps slightly thicker. Their Mango Lassi tasted pretty good, not too sour (just nice for my liking) and had a very familiar taste. I suspect it’s probably not home made and they probably got their Mango Lassi from the same distributors like where the other Indian restaurants got theirs. =)

Hubby and I noticed that the buffet variety was more of a South Indian cuisine, with one or two Indo-Chinese and Northern Indian cuisines. There were Naan, Poori (I like!), Vada (I like!), Paneer Tikka Masala, Fish Curry, Goat Curry, Tandoori Chicken, Biryani Rice and lots more to name a few. I was very glad to see some freshly made Masala Dosa (Tosai) place on the table for us. Yay! This is one of my favorite (South) Indian crepe. And the dosa was yummy, not overly sour and crispy!


The Fish Curry was good, seasoned perfectly and had enough heat. I sampled a sautéed mysterious vegetable dish which was good. But we could not figure out what it was…. it tasted and looked like tiny green chilies but I felt did not have the texture of chilies. I also tried some Chili Chicken which was cubes of chicken marinated in chili perhaps, and deep fried…it looked dry but it’s actually pretty moist. 

My first disappointment was the Paneer Tikka Masala, it was quite bland…definitely lack of spices and SALT! I’m ashamed to say that I can even make better tasting ones. The Tikka Masala was sadly the worst one I’ve ever had. Maybe it’s because they specialize in Southern Indian cuisine? The Vada and the Poori was good, it had been a while since I had them. The Vada though could use a wee more spices. =P.

The Chicken Biryani looked unappetizing as the rice looked mushy, but we decided to give it a try. First thing I tasted was heat, a little too much for me to handle that I had hubby finish my portion. The chef again seem to forgot SALT in this dish, only to add it at the last minute and did not do a good job to incorporate the salt. I had spoonful or tasteless spicy rice, and my next spoonful was saltier…… Hubby too did not like the Chicken Biryani Rice.

The Tandoori Chicken they had did not look like the ones I had before (with red seasoning on the outside). The taste was also mediocre, lacked seasoning (again!) and was missing the smoky charred flavor; not what I expect from a Tandoori Chicken. I could give them the benefit of the doubt that this is THEIR VERSION of Tandoori Chicken?

I have to give them credit for the good service (removing out empty plates and refilling water very timely) from the wait staff, while we were dining and before we paid the bill. We soon realized that we “over-stayed” at the restaurant when the wait staff kindly CHASED us out from our table! We were enjoying each other’s company, chatting and exchanging our weekly gossips updates, when a wait staff came and said something like this, “If you’re done, can you please leave as we have many patrons waiting for tables”… Although, he was quite polite…we were all taken aback and shocked. Never have we been asked to vacate a table to matter how busy the place was =P…. I guess, we were just too engrossed in our conversations that we neglected to see the amount of people waiting at the entrance for a table. Sorry, our bad!

Did I mention that the price was a little much for Indian buffet @ $13.95 per person for lunch? Other places charges about $10.95 or $11.95 for lunch buffets. We may or may not return to the place. However, I believe we should give the place a second chance, maybe the chef was just having a bad day and forgot SALT! =p..


Lilia said...

reading this makes me salivate!

Anonymous said...

Try Ritu ki Rasoi a couple of miles down the street in Burlington. They dont serve non-vegetarian but their offerings are truly authentic tasting not loaded with either color or artificial flavorings. Also, their lunch buffet is only $9.95 on the weekdays. I am not a Indian food critic by any stretch of the imagination, but know good food when I taste it.


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