The Pongal, 786 Boston Road, Billerica MA 01821
Vegetarian Options: Vegetarian Friendly
Pongal is a new Indian restaurant that recently opened up in Billerica MA, on March 10th 2008 in the same location as the former Masalaa Restaurant. Pongal has other locations in Bangalore India and this is their first restaurant in the US. I went to Pongal this weekend to check out the new restaurant with my parents. As soon as I entered I was surprised to see that the ambiance was much more upscale than Masalaa and the place was filled with customers, very different than the former restaurant. The restaurant has an elegant feel to it with red and gold tapestries on the walls and classical music playing in the background. The noise level is loud but the restaurant is kid friendly as they do provide highchairs. Overall I enjoyed the ambiance but the tables were too close together and the paper placed on top of the tablecloth was informal.
I have to commend the restaurant for its menu as they have a large selection of South Indian, North Indian and Indo-Chinese dishes. Indian Chinese, like the name suggests, is a fusion of Indian and Chinese food and I have yet to find a restaurant that offers a large selection of Indian Chinese entrees in the Boston area. For an appetizer we ordered the Hariyali Paneer Tika, a homemade cottage cheese dish that is baked in a clay oven and comes with different dipping sauces. I really enjoyed the Hariyali Paneer Tika and have not seen this offered at many Indian restaurants. I also tried the papri chaat, a potato dish made with Indian wafers, and I thought this dish was just okay as it had more potatoes and very few papri/wafer pieces. I enjoyed the sweet corn vegetable soup as well as the Tangy eggplant and the Vegetable Hakka noodles. We opted for the Mango Kulfi as they ran out of the Pistachio Kulfi. The presentation of the Mango Kulfi, was good but the taste was okay, as it had too many ice crystals and less cream. In addition to dinner, Pongal is open for a lunch buffet every day of the week.
Pongal was well staffed and the servers were very attentive to your needs. Overall I enjoyed myself at Pongal and with their wide selection of vegetarian offerings I will surely be back for seconds.