Cheap Eats in the East Village of NYC: Punjabi

Punjabi's Alluring Storefront

Punjabi’s Alluring Storefront

If you’ve never been to the scruffy-looking, stand-up restaurant known as Punjabi, it is likely you were scared off by its appearance.

After all, there is a garbage can right outside the door with full bags of garbage piled high. The awning and store window glass look like hell. It would seem that Punjabi, located at 114 East First Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A in New York City’s East Village, would have a menu of health violations.

In fact, after review, no violations are available whatsoever according to the restaurant inspector database at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (Mental hygiene? Clean my brain, please!) website. – OK, agreed. This database is hardly a good source of info when inspectors are shaking down proprietors for bottles of tequila. But, we’ll take the apparent, clean slate as comfort in addition to the constant influx of cabbies.

Once inside a fine selection of food, video and other charms of the Sikh and Punjabi cultures await.

On Friday night, the master of the microwave politely suggested #3 and #6 to EVP. We took him up on it – lentil beans and curried tofu or something like that. It was served with one Roti which, we think, is the thick tortilla that comes with lettuce and slices of cucumber.

Cabbies Congregate at Punjabi

Cabbies Congregate at Punjabi

Surely, the microwave situation in Punjabi can’t be good for anyone’s brain cells.

After you select from the menu, your food is nuked in one of the four microwave ovens that are electrified by a single cord hanging from the ceiling. The crowds of Sikh and Punjabi cabbies don’t seem to mind and tend to make Punjabi, the eatery, a required pitstop during an evening of pavement races.

The Punjabi Menu

The Punjabi Menu

Nuke it, baby, and don’t forget the heavy water!

At $4, the Roti with two veggie sides is tough to beat when measuring price and taste bud pleasure. When gobbling down the spicy curry or lentil, make sure to get yourself a complimentary water from the the water jug with the other taxi drivers.

The Roti helps cool the fires of southern Asia, too. EVP recommends taking a bite of the hot stuff, then a bite of the Roti with the lettuce and cukes wrapped inside, and then a swig of water. Some may want to order rice – do it before they nuke your food so the rice can provide a nice bed for your numerical selections.

The Punjabi Menu

Roti on the left, #3 and #6 on right

After you’ve licked the last curry or lentil delicacy off your plate, take care to pay your bill. The cashier realizes newcomers will fumble and helps you understand what you owe – which is consistently what you had originally thought – or less. And then you’re instructed to leave your used, Styrofoam plate and utensils in the garbage bag outside. See? – the scary garbage bag has a purpose!

Punjabi: delicious, good for you (it’s veggie, after all) and cheap – what more could you ask? Tables and chairs, perhaps? Get over it. You’re going back in the cab as soon as you’re done. Plenty of sitting there.

Need more info? SikhChic drills down on the Punjabi deets.


June 29th, 2008

Entry Filed under: Food


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