The restaurant is an Indian joint, located in the East Village, that is famous for its blinking, obnoxious Christmas tree lights adorning the ceiling of the building. Additionally, the restaurant is known for it’s owners, who stand outside of the stairs waving flyers in your face and shouting discounts to coerce you into eating with them. Sounds temping, right? Probably not, but like my trip to Rolf’s German Restaurant, Panna II is a place you go once, grab something quick to eat (and say it’s your birthday so you get the light + song celebration) and tell all your friends you have been there.
The interesting aspect of Panna II is that it is located on the upper, top right corner of what is 3 separate restaurants in the exact same location, with the exact same blinking-light business model. The curry competition next door is, Milon, which is under completely different ownership but offers the same dining experience of “eating Indian food in cramped quarters inside a Christmas tree.”
As if the next-door competition is not entertaining enough, the ground floor of the building is occupied by a third Indian restaurant, of course with the same flashing lights and chili peppers, called Royal Bangladesh. These Curry Row eateries may look identical to a passerby – many East Village locals believe it to be a hoax and that all the restaurants share one kitchen – but the owners swear the rivalry is real, and has been for 20 years.
The origin of the conflict stems from a dispute over authenticity. Both Panna II and Milon recognize that Milon was there first, Milon was established in 1982 and Panna II in 1988, but the question of innovation has become the basis for their rivalry, passed down through the generations. To simplify, the battle surrounding the conflict is: who came up with the idea for the lights? The conflict also explains why there are always people hustling you outside, trying to get you to their restaurant…as the proceeds benefit different owners!
“Where Chili Pepper Lights Meet Christmas Tree Lights.”
93 1st Ave NY, NY 10003
Open 7 days a week, 12 Noon to 12 Midnight