A slice of Indian goodness in HCM City

March 31, 2024 - 10:44
A small and cosy Indian restaurant with friendly staff and tasty, reasonably priced dishes.
Little India is a small Indian restaurant in a small street in HCM City’s Bình Thạnh District. VNS Photo Việt Dũng

By Việt Dũng

I was wandering in the smallish neighbourhood around Phạm Viết Chánh Street in Bình Thạnh District with my wife, looking at all the fun bars and restaurants, when we came across a small Indian restaurant, aptly named Little India.

While we have had our fair share of Western, Thai, Japanese and Chinese foods, Indian cuisine is not something we have a lot of experience in, just like many other Vietnamese, though there are many Indian restaurants around HCM City.

Still, always intrigued by unfamiliar things, we decided to pay this restaurant a visit.

When we entered the building, we were greeted by an Indian man, who I later found out was the owner of the restaurant.

He politely sat us down at a table and gave us a menu, definitely a positive first impression.

The menu was not elaborate unlike at some bigger, fancier restaurants we have been to.

Our inexperience meant we had to secretly Google the names of some of the dishes, but with the helpful guidance of the owner, we managed to order our dinner.

The restaurant was fairly small, set in a small building on bustling Phạm Viết Chánh Street. We enjoyed the intimate atmosphere and the dishes on the other tables that we managed to sneak a peek at, which indeed looked very promising.

Corn crispy croquettes are really a treat. Photo courtesy of Little India

Our first dish was corn crispy croquette, and after the first bite we both realised we were going to love the place.

As a diehard lover of good old crunchy fried snacks, I found the crunchy outer layer with the soft, savoury potato filling absolutely delightful.

It went perfectly with the two dipping sauces that came along, mint chutney and tamarind chutney, which again the owner helpfully explained to us.

Their flavourful sourness helped make the fried, starchy snack feel not too fatty, which my wife, who does not share my love for fried stuff, happily pointed out.

The appealing grilled malai chicken tikka and creamy paneer butter masala. Photo courtesy of Little India

​Our next dish was malai chicken tikka, which is made by marinating the meat in ground spices and barbecued in a tandoor pot.

The meat was tender and seasoned very well, and its slightly charred appearance made the dish all the more appetising. They paired excellently with the fresh green leaves and slightly sour onion rings.

It was a dish well made.

What was extraordinary for us however was the final dish in our order: a bowl of creamy paneer butter masala (curry with paneer, a kind of soft Indian cottage cheese), along with butter naan, the popular bread, which is also made in a tandoor pot at 480 degrees Celsius.

Right from the first look we could tell we were going to like this dish, with its delicious-looking red colour, white cream on the surface and a garnish of green herbs.

The paneer was soft and creamy, and, together with the thick, creamy masala that had just the right level of spice, made the dish simply irresistible for us.

I enjoyed the masala with the naan, but my wife kept picking out the paneer and eating the sauce by itself.

We quickly wolfed down the sauce, both finding the dish our favourite of the day.

All three dishes were in fact very tasty and filling, and I was also extremely impressed with the attentiveness of the owner, who enthusiastically guided us through the menu and introduced us to dishes that we did not know about.

As we ate, I noticed him waiting tables, dashing across to customers and showering on them the same friendly attention he did on us.

The dishes were reasonably priced: the samosa was VNĐ75,000, the malai chicken tikka was VNĐ135,000 and the paneer butter masala was VNĐ115,000. The butter naan set us back VNĐ40,000.

The restaurant has seemingly ignited my wife’s interest in Indian food since she plans to visit the place again with her friends, and so do I.

Surrounding the restaurant are a number of fun places to visit: lively bars and restaurants and even a hair salon and spa for my wife!

Walking around the neighbourhood is also a fun way to hang out with friends, especially during weekends when the place is packed with locals and expats.

If you find yourself in this area, be sure to check out Little India for some tasty Indian dishes. VNS

Little India

Address: 92 Phạm Viết Chánh Street, Ward 19, Bình Thạnh District, HCM City

Tel: 0325 414 080

Opening hours: 10.00am to 2pm and 5pm to 10pm. Closed on Mondays

Comment: A small and cosy Indian restaurant with friendly staff and tasty, reasonably priced dishes.