When looking for tasty, consistent, no-frills Indian, Punjabi is waiting just a short bike ride away in the great, windswept land of human detritus - the Pham Ngu Lao. Punjabi is located at 40/4 Bui Vien in a well-worn alley dotted with budget hotels, cafes, and blackmarket-book sellers . Although the dishes lack some of the fire that northern Indian cuisine is often synonymous with, this modest locale is reasonably priced, decidedly simple, and repeatedly fulfilling.
Although Gavin and I usually go there for an expeditious lunch while running errands in the area, a couple of sturdy, wooden tables open up in front of the restaurant at night, providing excellent people watching opportunities. There is no better soup for the jaded soul than gawking at frazzled backpackers adjusting poorly to the frenetic Saigon streets.
Our recommendations? Start with the capable vegetable samosas and some crispy papadums dipped in chili sauce. For your main feed, share a few dishes at the table and rejoice in lively conversation. Our favorite dishes are standard Indian fare - butter chicken, verdant palak paneer, hearty dal fry, and creamy malai kofta. To accompany the rich sauces, order freshly-baked nan bread (plain or garlic) or go for my personal favorite, whole-wheat Tandorri roti.