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five star pujabi, yemen cafe


Restaurants & Bars 11

five star pujabi, yemen cafe

jen kalb | Sep 13, 1999 06:50 PM

a note on two very recent meals - had a so-so dinner
at five star punjabi Saturday night - maybe thats a
bad time there, cooks night off or something - To
start out with, we both noted it smelled slightly
unpleasant, mildewy or something else we could not
identify. Excellent samosa chaat and the unpromising
looking litle lettuce and tomatoes came with nice
spicing - we were eager for the saag paneer but would
recommend against it - rubbery unmelted cubes of
paneer in the puree of greens - admittedly, this was
more "authentic" than the typical NY saag with
spinach, since it definitely had the stronger tasting
greens like broccoli raab that punjabis favor - but
the puree was brownish rather than green green, with
even some desiccated tannish bits,and lacked
freshness, leading me to think that maybe even dried
greens were used. At any rate, it was not a good
choice for us. The butter chicken (our first
experience) was better, the sauce was unctuous indeed,
but I couldn't shake the feeling that it reminded me,
in flavor and texture, of some rubbery creamy seafood
dish experienced long ago, and the spicing was not
particularly interesting. The naan was a real
disappointment bisquik (baking powder) naan not yeast
raised - it seems to be becoming the standard in these
cheaper indian places. Not terrible but not proper
naan - I would recommend going for one of the non-
raised breads like paratha instead. Chutney not worth
eating - fake coriander chutney, ground onions died
green and a pedestrian tamarind - maybe from a mix.
There is clearly someone in this kitchen who can cook,
the samosa chaat proved that, but the overall quality
level was disappointing. Id rather spend a couple
dollars more for fresh coriander, fresh greens, etc.

A more pleasing experience was lunch today at Yemen
Cafe on Atlantic Avenue (jury duty!) - an extremely
tasty lamb broth (offered gratis) and lamb gelaba
(spiced, sauteed lamb) with rice, very nicely cooked
and seasoned (needed salt). The yemeni guys in there
were eating big hunks of roast lamb on the bone with
stewed vegetables, plates of romaine leaves and huge
naans (2+ feet across). Maybe they were bisquik naans
too, whatever, I will give it a try next time, but
watching the guys eat with their hands and obviously
with pleasure was a pleasure in itself.

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