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Berkeley/Oakland Indian restaurants

Janet Goff Aug 26, 2004 12:00 AM

"Priya", "Naan n Curry" and "Breads of India" are the only names I have of Indian restaurants in the Berkeley area; from reading the posts I know there are many, many, many more. We aren't vegetarians, we aren't interested in linen tableclothes, etc. and we like tasty, well prepared chow. What are your recs? Favorite dishes? All help greatly appreciated.

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  1. r
    Robert Lauriston RE: Janet Goff Aug 26, 2004 12:07 AM

    Udupi Palace (vegetarian). Try the thali dinner.

    Vik's (lunch only).

    1. a
      Andrew RE: Janet Goff Aug 26, 2004 12:55 AM

      Vik's near Fourth Street off University in Berkeley. Lunch only but GOOD. Chaat (tapas). In a garage but expanded. Not a tablecloth in sight! Try the big puffy thing (#9?). The lamb thing is god too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Andrew
        Andrew RE: Andrew Aug 26, 2004 12:57 AM

        I'm not normally religious. I mean it's GOOD : )

      2. a
        Adam Paul RE: Janet Goff Aug 26, 2004 01:53 AM

        I second the recommendation for Vik's (lunch only) - they're excellent.

        Vik's Chaat Corner
        726 Allston Wy.
        Berkeley, CA


        1. n
          nja RE: Janet Goff Aug 26, 2004 11:35 AM

          One of my favorite places. Don't let the white tableclothes dissuade you.

          Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          15 Replies
          1. re: nja
            Robert Lauriston RE: nja Aug 26, 2004 12:11 PM

            We tried Ajanta once. Nothing was better than mediocre, and the waiter let us order two almost identical dishes.

            Khana Peena, directly across the street, is good, but has the informal Solano Avenue surcharge added to the bill.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              Alexandra RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 26, 2004 12:30 PM

              I think you should try Ajanta again, Robert. We went five years ago and found it overly spicy (where it overwhelmed any delicate flavors that should have been there) and just not that enjoyable. When we went back about a year-and-a-half ago we had a totally different experience, and now we go once a month or so. I really like their monthly regional specials - much more interesting than other Indian restaurants in the area. The ingredients are high quality, it's not overly greasy, and it's more inventive than any other place in the area (like Breads of India used to be).

              I've posted a thread from a few weeks ago that has more recommendations.

              Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

              1. re: Alexandra
                nja RE: Alexandra Aug 26, 2004 01:12 PM

                Robert does raise a good point though. The 15 entrees listed on Ajanta's menu always read very distinctly different. You may find, for example, lamb in a sauce of yogurt, cashews, & a variety of spices, and else where chicken in a sauce of onion, garlic, sunflower seeds, & a different variety of spices, but when they arrive at the table they both look like meat in a blended brownish sauce. While the flavors are all subtely different, I could see how it would be a bit monotonous. Or at least, more monotonous that you expect given the descriptions on the menu.

                To avoid that possibility, I recommend going with the prix fixe (which gives you about 10 other side dishes beyond the entree), for the entrees a mix of curries and tandooris, and if all else fails, ask for Roger (who usually serves as host) for recommendations.

                As for mediocrity: I've had a few mediocre dishes for sure (the report I linked notes some), but those have been a minority.


                1. re: nja
                  amyd RE: nja Aug 26, 2004 01:31 PM

                  I, too, am a fan of Ajanta. I've tried several Berkeley Indian restaurants, and this is my favorite (although the service leaves a bit to be desired). The quality of ingredients is high, the cooking is strong, and the menu changes often (monthly specials). Read the owner's monthly newsletter--it clearly shows his commitment to his food, restaurant, and customers and presents a unique voice that makes me feel good about dining at Ajanta.

                2. re: Alexandra
                  Robert Lauriston RE: Alexandra Aug 26, 2004 01:36 PM

                  It wasn't just the food, I found Ajanta's atmosphere depressing, partly due to bad lighting. Between the difficult parking and all the great Indian places I'd have to drive past to get there, I have no motive to give it another chance.

                  I didn't think much of Breads of India either. The food was very good but not better than other places with lower prices and no line.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    Marc Wallace RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 26, 2004 04:19 PM

                    I agree with Robert completely. Ajanta was dim (even for me, and I hate the sun), crowded, and impossible to park near. I had expected to really enjoy the food, but the three dishes we split were variable, from meh to just pretty good.

                    Breads of India... their dishes are usually quite good. What gets me is that their breads do *not* seem spectacular, nor well paired with the dishes.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      Prabhakar Ragde RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 27, 2004 01:15 AM

                      I have to back Robert up on this. Both Ajanta and Breads of India were good once upon a time. Their prose is still good (read their descriptions and you get hungry), but the food... well, I would say that both got complacent, but that is too easy an explanation. I don't know what the cause is, but they're no longer worthwhile. Indian in the East Bay, beyond Vik's (amazingly still good, despite their expansion from a counter at the back of a grocery store), is problematic for me. --PR

                      1. re: Prabhakar Ragde
                        Robert Lauriston RE: Prabhakar Ragde Aug 27, 2004 12:35 PM

                        You don't like Udupi Palace?

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston
                          Prabhakar Ragde RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 27, 2004 01:57 PM

                          I've only eaten at Udipi Palace once, and was quite disappointed. Here's a link to what I said about it in January 2003. I mean to try it again at some point. --PR

                          Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                          1. re: Prabhakar Ragde
                            Robert Lauriston RE: Prabhakar Ragde Aug 27, 2004 03:11 PM

                            Bland dal's not usual for Udupi, though of course compared with the rasam ...

                            Too bad Athithi didn't last.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                              Prabhakar Ragde RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 27, 2004 07:43 PM

                              I was expecting rasam or sambar, and didn't get them. My lasting impression was a general sense that everyone connected with the place had preferred that no one show up for lunch that day, and was annoyed that we all did.

                              I never made it to Athithi. --PR

                              1. re: Prabhakar Ragde
                                Robert Lauriston RE: Prabhakar Ragde Aug 27, 2004 08:46 PM

                                Lunch thali, I dunno. I always get uttapham.

                                I've had thali dinner I don't know how many times at Udupi, and it always has highly spiced dal and very spicy rasam.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                  Prabhakar Ragde RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 27, 2004 11:28 PM

                                  Uttapam's more of a breakfast food, but I guess they're not open for breakfast. Okay, I'll give them another try. --PR

                                  1. re: Prabhakar Ragde
                                    Robert Lauriston RE: Prabhakar Ragde Aug 28, 2004 11:16 AM

                                    They were open for breakfast for a while, but I guess they didn't get much business. Not that I'd eat a chile and onion uttapam in the morning anyway!

                3. re: nja
                  Melanie Wong RE: nja Aug 28, 2004 01:51 AM

                  I'll vote for Ajanta too. The lamb boti kabobs were just about the best piece of tandoori lamb we've had in our myriad of curry dives. I loved the pork vindaloo - finally a distinctive vinegary snap with high notes and bass note complexity and not a muddled mess that tastes like a generic curry.

                4. t
                  tedm RE: Janet Goff Aug 28, 2004 01:17 PM

                  Kabana on University.

                  The restaurant is Pakistani, but has all the things you see on a typical Indian menu.

                  Their tandoori items are excellent, especially the tandoori fish. Chicken is cooked perfectly, as is the fish; very tender (and spicy).

                  Samosas are rally good too; second best I've had in the EB (after Vik's).

                  Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

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