Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Purnima Bangladeshi Cuisine - Buford Hwy - Chamblee Georgia

You can find Purnima Bangladeshi Cuisine at 4646 Buford Highway, Chamblee, GA 30341 due east of Peachtree Dekalb Airport in a small strip-mall along Buford Hwy that also features Pho 24. Parking is in the lot out front but be forewarned that at busy times it's very limited - the parking lot can also be difficult to navigate out of if there isn't any parking available.

I was quite excited to try Purnima after viewing some of the raving reviews from some of my friends on Yelp. The first time I was meeting my wife there and she did not get a good impression - I'm not exactly sure what happened but I think she didn't feel very welcome there - combine that with the folding tables under the tablecloths and she became uneasy feeling the place was a bit sketchy, so we went elsewhere.  Maybe it was a cultural reaction? I don't know. Still wanting to try it I came by myself for a late lunch one weekend when she was out of town.

The exterior facade has "Purnima Bangladeshi Restaurant" on a back-lit sign with a glass front - the place is fairly small but there are a few chairs right outside the door in case there's a wait for seating. The interior is painted a dark red with banquets and tables covered in dark red tablecloths. There's a mix of Ikea lighting and traditional chandeliers (probably from the previous tenant) as well as some southeastern-Asian accents, with a small flat-panel TV on the back wall.

The menu is four pages and features many of the same items that you would find in an Indian restaurant with a few standouts. There are additional meat options that you're more likely to see in a Pakistani restaurant, along with dishes more Nepalese. If all this sounds like "Indian" - think of this as an Indian restaurant that also serves meat - Bangladesh is mostly Muslim so culturally they don't carry the restrictions on beef. I've had some experience eating Bangladeshi food at the nearby and venerable Panahar to the south at Northeast Plaza.

I notice that Purnima is the Indo-Nepalese word for "Full Moon" so add that to your cultural reference. I decided that for my first visit I would try one of my favorite dishes, the chicken Vindaloo - this is a dish traditionally made by marinating meet (chicken, lamb or goat) in palm vinegar, sugar, ginger, red chilies and fresh spices overnight. The vinegar gives it a bit of twang, ups the impact of the chilies and breaks down the connective tissues int he meat, making it more tender. I've found the dish is made differently everywhere you go so I'm always looking for a good version - it's sort of my measuring stick. The dish came with an order of rice and I asked if they made chili or bullet naan - this is one of those things that you don't often see on the menu and if you like spicy food you're definitely missing out. It's basically break baked with green chilies and quite spicy.

The food came to the table in just a few minutes and the smells were divine. The Vindaloo was quite good, probably in my top 10 - I did ask for it "hot" and it delivered. Nicely piquant with quite strong southern (Indian) flavors. The naan, which seems typical of the Nepalese and Bangladeshi restaurants I've visited, was thin in the center and spongy/bready towards the edges. It's a bit different experience from your typical Indian naan - this one was full of chopped green chilies and wonderful. Overall the food was quite good and I would recommend Purnima to anyone wanting to experience "Indian-like" (in a good way) food.

For the service, I felt that everyone was a bit distracted and that I was ignored a bit - I guess I expect that some because I was by myself. It did make me think of my wife's earlier experience - the owner/manager spent the whole time on the phone, interrupting himself to take my order with the phone cupped in one hand. A bit weird - but still due to the food I still rate this 4/5 stars.

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
Purnima Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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