Yesterday after emerging from Solana Mall northwest of Chaoyang Park, my friend pointed out the Punjabi Indian Restaurant on Lucky Street, telling me he'd been there and it had been good.
And as it was just after 6pm we decided to give it a try.
It's a quaint place, with some over-blossomed silk roses as decoration, and wooden tables with sheets of glass on top and you can look at small rectangular boxes of various beans and spices. The Indian music is loud, while the waitresses are dressed in colourful outfits and on the whole are very helpful and attentive.
There's an all-you-can-eat buffet for just under 80 RMB including drinks, but we decided to order from the menu instead.
It's pretty extensive one that offers many variations so you have to read through the whole menu carefully before making the order.
For starters, the vegetarian samosas come in twos, filled mostly with potato with a spicy kick. However, it was terribly deep-fried with a thick crust that required extremely strong incisors to cut through the deep-fried dough.
Nevertheless, other dishes we ordered were very good. Mutton Tikka is fresh lamb seasoned with ground spices like cumin and paprika, skewered and roasted in a clay oven. This wasn't too spicy and had a fantastic flavour that could be further enhanced with a variety of sauces, some spicier, others not.
My other favourite was the Baingan Bharta, mashed eggplant cooked with tomatoes and onions as well as a variety of spices. It wasn't too spicy and the cornucopia of ingredients created a taste that was practically addictive.
Dum Aloo Kashmiri are roasted potatoes stuffed with nuts and raisins which is later cooked in a gravy made with Kashmiri spices. This dish was a bit weak, with not much taste in terms of texture from the nuts and raisins (that I didn't taste), but got the thumbs up from my dining companion.
To sweep up all the sauces we also ordered Paneer Naan, which is naan bread stuffed with cottage cheese; I didn't taste the cottage cheese, but it was lightly seasoned with spices like paprika and bits of coriander.
We also had a plain dosa, a large crispy pancake made of rice and lentil flour. Apparently it's an art to making dosas, and so far I have yet to come across one in Beijing that's as large, thin and crispy as one I tried in Hong Kong. This dosa was a tad oily, but still thin and on the whole quite crispy. Again, it was great for mopping up sauces on the plate.
To wash it all down we had two glasses of lassis, a sweet yoghurt drink.
In the end we barely finished it all, with some lamb left over and the bill came to 254 RMB ($37.15), which was probably a bit pricey, but the quality of the food was better than some other Indian restaurants I've tried in Beijing.
Punjabi Indian Restaurant
1-30 Lucky Street
Chaoyang Gongyuan Xilu