Sky Full of Bacon

I suddenly had a craving for Indian food, and not for Khan BBQ, which was the last Indian Indo-Pakistani place I went to… maybe the last two or three Indian South Asian places I went to. So my friend Wyatt and I went to Udupi Palace for first-rate vegetarian, fresh and brightly flavored. (They don’t have a buffet, so it helps to go with someone else so you can order at least two or three things. Not having a buffet is, otherwise, a benefit— things taste fresher and brighter.)

Two days later I still had a craving for Indian food food prepared in a style indigenous to or at least reflective of the Asian subcontinent, and had no one in tow to help me order, so I decided to fall back on a buffet. There’s a newish one… maybe… at 2525 W. Devon.

I say maybe because although the name is new— Punjabi Dhaba— the same location has been Sher-A-Punjab and Moti Mahal. And since the website says they’ve been serving for 15 years… well, they may be new, but you know that old joke about how all the moussaka in Greektown or won ton soup in Chinatown is cooked in one underground kitchen and trucked/piped/whatever to the various restaurants? It starts to look like less of a joke when the same restaurant has borne half the names you see on Devon, dishing up a more or less identical buffet of saag paneer and curry made from leftover tandoori chicken each time.

And that’s how things tasted— like something they’d made and I’d tasted too many times before. The dishes were okay— it was a cold day, they hit the spot, they assuaged my craving a little more— but the colors that had been bright at Udupi Palace were stewed to a muted pastel by comparison. LTHForum poster Zim, who is Indian (and deserves eternal thanks for being the one who kicked off the community’s exploration of Khan BBQ), once advanced the theory that you should only eat at an Indian buffet in its first six months, that’s when they’re likely to have new offerings you haven’t seen a million times and to be trying hardest to make flavors sparkle. Punjabi Dhaba, alas, manages the neat trick of being a new restaurant… whose first six months appear to have been many years ago.

Punjabi Dhaba
2525 W.Devon Avenue
Chicago, IL 60659
(773) 262 – 2080

Udupi Palace
2543W,Devon Avenue
Chicago,IL 60618

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