Okay, I’ll talk about the food at Panna II Garden in a second, but what’s really a priority right now is discussing the CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. Yeah, you heard me. This Indian restaurant is famous for its multitude of lights.
I normally don’t include pictures of the restaurants themselves, but I couldn’t resist this time. It’s a huge part of the experience, and maybe that photo will give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
As you can see, there are lights EVERYWHERE. There are rows and rows hanging across the ceiling and all along the walls. Because the restaurant is so tiny and narrow (that picture shows basically all of it), the effect of all the lights is even more dramatic. It really feels like you’re walking into a subway car where a Christmas tree exploded. The seating is tight and cramped, and it took me a while to realize that the ceiling is actually much higher than where the lights are, but I guess they thought it would make it more fun to make people feel completely enclosed in lights. I definitely had to duck a little when making my way to my table.
When you go to Panna II, make sure you’re entering the right restaurant. There are a couple other Indian restaurants located right by it, next door and a level below, and they’ve decked out their places in lights as well. But beware! They are impostors! Workers from the other places will try to coax and steer you into their establishments but don’t be deterred. Panna II has its name clearly marked outside its entrance, and it’s the one at the top right. I found it pretty hilarious that while all the other people were shouting at me and pointing to their doors to get me to go there, the guy for Panna II quietly and calmly opened the door as if he knew exactly where I was going. I guess you don’t have to beg for customers when you’re the real thing!
Every table gets some papadum and chutney to snack on. My friend and I ordered the vegetarian samosas to start, and I got the chicken makhani as my main dish. Chicken makhani is chicken cooked with butter, cream, almond, and spices. Butter and cream. Yum. The food was delicious, Indian comfort food, made even better because of the cheap prices. Most of the main dishes are $7 to $9, and if you choose a vegetarian main dish they’re even cheaper (between $6 and $7).
Another bonus…everyone gets a complimentary scoop of mango ice cream after the meal. Sweet! They also do dinner specials where you get an appetizer, soup, paratha, condiments, an entree, and dessert for $10.95. Not bad at all. And it’s BYOB.
One last note…whenever it’s someone’s birthday at the restaurant, they put on a little light show complete with darkening the whole restaurant, fun music, and of course, flashing lights. When I went, I got to experience three birthday celebrations. And I thought a place covered in lights couldn’t get any more fun! Panna II’s tagline is “Where Chili Pepper Lights Meets Christmas Lights” and they definitely live up to that.
Vegetarian samosas, garlic naan, chicken makhani
93 1st Ave #2
New York, NY 10003