Restaurants »Panna II Indian Garden

Panna II Indian Garden?/a> is the 6th street Indian spot upstairs on the right. The owner swore up and down that it's the “original” and the first to feature year round Christmas lights. He also dismissed the urban legend that all three restaurants share a kitchen and hinted at a rivalry among them that is reinforced by the aggressive barkers outside, each promising that theirs is a better place, even lying to the friends we were meeting there claiming we were waiting in all of them. While I can't confirm that the one we picked is actually the best among them, having not tried them all I can say we were all very happy with our meals.

Going to one of these places is a wild and requisite NYC experience so long as you are not an epileptic particularly if there's a birthday (there were two during the short time we were there) where the already overwhelming lights begin to flash as the waiter unplugs and plugs back in a frightening mess of wires. Adding to the sensory overload, the place will quickly and without warning fill with savory smells and billowing smoke.

You'll be seated promptly and briskly and it will become clear that as desperate as they were to get you inside, they expect you to get out just as quickly. It's not surprising and not unexpected, so it just becomes part of the experience and besides, a smoke filled room with flashing lights isn't the place you can spend hours relaxing anyways.

The food was actually much better than I had anticipated. My tikka masala was not creamy as I expected but did taste fresh and I walked away miraculously without an upset stomach. The naan was nice and fried tasting, like a slightly sinful version of traditional leven bread. It's not BYOB and if you order a Taj Mahal, a nice Indian brew with a meady honey after taste, be aware that the bottles are huge. The wine is according to my friend nothing to speak of.

It's a fun time, an energetic have to do it once in a while experience. It's like Christmas every day in there and the red light is actually quite flattering as well. Is that why the red light district began using red lights in the first place I wonder.

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Posted on December 22, 2008

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