I’ve made a few visits to new-to-me restaurants the last two weeks. They’ve all been good and worth sharing. Panjabi Dhaba is the best Indian food I’ve had in Columbia. They have a lunch buffet but I went for dinner and sat at the bar and ordered from their large menu. The service is really friendly and helpful. I ordered a large Indian beer, a nice crisp lager. An onion chutney was served with the crisp sesame seed laced naan that was offered once I ordered my food.
I started with samosa chaat, a chopped up samosa topped with chickeas, peas, cauliflower, and potatoes. Really hearty and crunchy and filling.
My entree was lamb vindaloo; it had many large chunks of slightly tough lamb in a moderately hot and velvety pepper based sauce. The sauce was a little bland for my tastes, but I’m not sure if that’s intended. Bread, rice, and raita accompanied the large meal. I had plenty to take home.
Next up, Tea in West Columbia. I’m not sure how I missed this restaurant, which has been open since May and serves what I believe to be the only banh mi in Columbia. The restaurant, so named for their large selection of loose leaf teas, has many varieties of banh mi and a few sides, such as the well packed shrimp spring rolls.
The “adventurer” banh mi is chock full of all the usual suspects – roast pork, pate, head cheese, cilantro, daikon, carrot, and cucumber. The bread was crusty, though overall a bit harder than I prefer, and it was a much wider French loaf than the baguette to which I’m accustomed. It made it slightly difficult to eat and the firm crust actually cut the corn of my mouth. Banh mi hazard I guess.
Lambs Bread has been on my radar for a while as it’s the only vegan restaurant in Columbia, but they are only open for lunch so it has taken me a while to get there. It’s a small, odd place, with traditional African decor, a hint of incense in the air, and apparently, little to not heating offered on a cold day.
My shivering quickly subsided when the large plate of steaming collards, rice, curried potatoes, and “ribs” hit my table. It was all really delicious and satisfying, especially the potatoes and the ribs. The collards weren’t the best quality and a more deft preparation could balance the bitterness, but that’s just being picky. The sauce on the ribs was sticky sweet and good, and I enjoyed mixing it up with bites of the potato and rice.
I don’t know why they call the protein ribs, really, I don’t get the whole “pretend” vegetarian food. Call it BBQ sauced soy or something more accurate. During the lunch with David Tanis earlier this week, Tofurky came up, to which he commented, “It’s an insult to tofu and an insult to the turkey”.