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Back to Darbar (SF)

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With more than a week between curry dives, I scratched the South Asian itch last week with a return to Darbar, the site of one of our early outings. Curious about whether I would regard it as highly now having tried so many other places, I’m happy to report that my more jaded palate still likes the food here very much.

This time I got take-out. The wife part of the ownership team was as gracious as ever, confirming desired spice levels with me. I chuckled when I noted the new menu text describing nihari as “osso buco”. I enjoyed a complimentary cup of hot chai offered to me while I waited for my food. Even though not consumed at their peak, all three items, each new to me, were winners.

Chicken rashmi kebab, $2.49 – A sausage-like cylinder of moist and juicy ground chicken stained orange with seasonings and studded with bits of fresh jalapeño, nicely charred on the edges. I bet it’s even better hot out of the tandoor without steaming in its foil wrapper.

Haleem, $5.99 – My fondness for haleem has turned out to be a lonely quest, as other ‘hounds have found the gluey texture too “different” whenever we order it. This one seems like it has more lentils and less barley, so is less mucilaginous and more like a super-thick gravy binding together pulverized meat. Ordered “medium”, the spiciness was bolder than the version at Shalimar and far more complex. Made with chicken as well as beef, this had more meaty depth and lusciousness, almost like molten meat. Reheating the leftovers tonight for dinner, it still rocks.

Roti, $0.99 – Lovely whole wheat flatbread, some blistered crisp spots and a tender interior. And, it actually tasted like whole wheat with a nutty finish. Very good example.

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  1. I have been to Darbar several times since our Chowdown and am really enjoying the selection there. Their food seems to be consistently good, and I just have to be pretty insistent about the spice level to get it as I'd like.

    The other day I got take out and ordered Karahi Chicken and Sarson Ka Saag from Darbar. Then as they were cooking, I ran across to Shalimar and picked up some Chana Masala. (g) A perfect melding of the star dishes at each place.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jen maiser

      Very chowish of you, Jen! I think the sarson ka saag is the most memorable of the things I've tried at Darbar. Glad I happened to order it the first visit, as it made the place stand out for me. Well, I also liked sitting at that outdoor table too for a full survey of Polk St. goings on.

      Oh, and thanks for mentioning the karahi dish for our balti-loving 'hound.

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    2. c
      Caitlin McGrath

      Yahoo lists a Darbar Indian Cuisine in Palo Alto. Anyone know if it's related to Darbar in SF?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

        I asked the owner of SF's Darbar this last fall. They said they're independently owned.

      2. I had a late lunch there the other day. I had the lamb vindaloo, which was very good. Tender lamb in a respectably spicy, smooth, reddish, flavorful sauce. Only problem was that there were a couple of small, very sharp bones, so I had to eat very carefully. The naan was also improved over our chowdown dinner; though not expectional it lacked the raw doughiness that previously marred it. I also tried the samosas, which were also very good. The filling contained very fresh and well spiced peas and potatoes. It had been deep fried in ghee, resulting in a very buttery crust. A very enjoyable meal.

        1. Mel
          Could not find haleem on their menu.
          http://darbarsf.com/index.php
          Apart from Shalimar & Shan (& possible Darbar) which other place offers it?

          2 Replies
          1. re: rdabke

            Cool, didn't know Darbar had a website. Halim was listed in the daily special section on the printed menu along with Nihari, but I don't see it there. Maybe you could call to find out if its in a weekly rotation.

            Noticed haleem on the menu at Deezi in Campbell, curious about a Persian version.

            Chapli kebab greatness at Darbar
            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/339268