Sunday, January 25, 2009

Nala Pak

Friday night I said to PiC that I wanted to go out to eat, but I wanted to definitely go out to eat somewhere that is not in my immediate neighborhood. To be honest, I'm a little tired of my neighborhood at the moment, and was wanting something... Well if not quite different, then just not here. I also wanted booze, and I wanted to do anything but think about work.

His suggestion was that we drive up to Columbia Heights and try out Nala Pak, one of the vegetarian Indian restaurants in town. Perfect, says I, and we toodle on up Central to the restaurant. And what do you know, there's a Large Liquor Store right next to it. :)

Sit down, look around, and at the menu, and there were three huge wins: 1) There were South Indian dishes on the menu, 2) there were large Indian families in the restaurant, and 3) they had sparkling wine by the glass.

I order my standby, a palak paneer, and a glass of said sparkling wine. PiC goes for the dosai that's stuffed with cauliflower. And I soooooo pegged what he was going to get because he'd never had dosai and it wasn't stuffed with potatoes. :)

OMG the palak paneer was incredible. Creamy, yet not over processed, and it was Palak AND Paneer. As in they took up about equal halves of the dish. So often palak paneer ends up being a green puree with a few lonely cheese cubes tossed in. Not only that, but the paneer was so clearly Fresh. Oh, I wish this place were not so far from my apartment. I'd be eating here weekly in no time.

Also, I had Joy when seeing the bottle of sparkling wine Pop in back. I knew my wine was coming. It was kinda pedestrian, but I'm not going to complain too much about that when it was only $5/glass or so. It was lovely enough and it was fizzy and I was satisfied.

The dosai was like this ginormous crepe made with lentils instead of wheat flour. Very thin, but I swear it was 18 inches across or something like that, and filed with curry. He was as happy with his dosai as I was with my palak paneer.

And an interesting conversation ensued. We talked about how I seem to get a limited number of dishes, but I go to a wide variety of restaurants. I just have the things that I like in those cuisines. Where as he is a more adventurous type, trying that which he hasn't seen on a menu anywhere else.

What we came to realize though through our conversation is that we have very different ways of "testing" a restaurant. He will judge a place by what he's never had before. Is it unique and interesting and well balanced. I, on the other hand, prefer to judge a place on my favorite dishes. For instance, I can compare this palak paneer to that one and judge them on their subtle differences in character. Thing is, so far we have hardly *ever* gone to the same restaurant twice. And so I haven't had the "okay, I've tested this, and I know they won't make me sick, now let's try something completely different" sort of experience that much with him.

Yet. :)

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