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Real Biryani in the Bay Area

  • osho Oct 13, 2008 01:18 PM

I am looking for real Biryani here in the Bay Area.

Not referring to hastily thrown together rice and chicken with generic masala.

Any pointers ?

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  1. Kabab and Curry's in Santa Clara
    Peacock Indian cafe in San Jose
    Tastebuds in Sunnyvale ( this is more Andhra style , so spicier). Try pairing it with the eggplant masala ( it is a combo made by the gods)
    Annapoorna in San Mateo

    I am not sure about places in SFO ( I never eat Indian food when I go there :)

    8 Replies
    1. re: vaparna

      Thanks for the recs vaparna.

      I will certainly try and make the long trek down South.

      Isn't Annapoorna a vegetarian place ? Real biryani should be made with lamb, goat or chicken - worst case ;-)

      What else do you recommed at Tastebuds ? I have been meaning to make a trip down there for a long time now.

      1. re: vaparna

        DH found out from a friend today that Peacock Cuisine has opened up a new branch in Santa Clara (& Fremont). This is quite a bit closer to me than the original location; looking forward to trying it soon. Any other standouts besides biriyani?

        http://www.peacockrestaurants.com/pea...

        1. re: ceekskat

          Thanks for the reminder about this place - I plan to try it out soon. I see they have Apollo Fish on the menu; I really miss that dish since Marigold morphed into Hyderabad House and they took it off the menu.

          Michael

          -----
          Peacock Indian Cuisine
          2798 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA

          1. re: ceekskat

            Tried Peacock today and found it to be OK, not great, both for the chicken biryani and the Apollo fish. Both had good basic flavors but not the complexity of flavor of the best renditions.

            In the Apollo fish, for instance, the marinade and coating were pretty simplistic, with heat added via jalapeno slices. At Marigold, the heat was in the marinade, which was much more complexly spiced than here.

            If it's in your neighborhood it's a good alternative to the Korean places. But the biryani is not at the level of places like Zafran, Hyderabad House, or Athidhi. I'm looking forward to trying Sakoon's biryani soon, complete with a crust - it looked great at other tables on our last visit there.

            Michael

            1. re: mdg

              I saw your posting too late to warn you. I wasn't impressed with much of Peacock's food except the eggplant, which was outstanding.

              1. re: mdg

                That was fast! A little bummed about the review but thanks for taking one for the hounds.

                1. re: mdg

                  Peacock has opened a new location in Mountain View - the site that used to be Mei Long, and then a succesion of short-lived, mediocre-to-awful Indian restaurants. I tried it and this meal was more successful than my one meal at the Santa Clara location. The chicken chettinad was quite tasty, and the chapati was very nice. It might be worth trying out the biryani next.

                  There's a lot of competition in this neighborhood from Madras Cafe, Taste Buds, Shalimar, Shah, and Saravana Bhavan. But Peacock's menu has dishes that don't overlap with those menus (more in parallel with the menus at Annapoorna or Athidhi, several miles away in Sunnyvale). It's still a problem location with parking hassles, but we'll see how they do. It was doing pretty well for early on a weeknight when I was there.

                  Michael

                  -----
                  Peacock Indian Cuisine
                  867 E El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

                  1. re: mdg

                    The chicken biryani at Peacock's new Mountain View location is indeed better than what I recall tasting at their Santa Clara location. This is a nice addition to the neighborhood, despite all the other fine Indian places nearby.

                    Michael

            2. Have you ever tried the biryani at Larkin Street Deli? It's really good--don't know if it fits the criteria of "real."

              3 Replies
              1. re: Atomica

                As a matter of fact I have tried it at LED, and its very good, but its not the style of aromatic layered saffron infused basmati rice with meat cooked on the bone in the rice that I am looking for.

                The likes of which I have eaten in the UK and India.

                1. re: osho

                  I have recently restarted my Biryani journey, so a quick update is in order.

                  I think the biryani at Burmese Kitchen in SF easily trumps Hyderabad House in Palo Alto.

                  The one at Hyderabad House was dry, overcooked, just a total disappointment compared to two years ago. Raita was watery and had no spice, it was almost like buttermilk. Ugh !

                  The version at Burmese Kitchen was moist, the spicing was just perfect, and the grains of rice were distinct and not gummy. The accompanying kachumber - onion, cucumber, greens and green chile - was simple but did the trick.

                  The quest continues. My current top favourite is the one at Amber India.

                  -----
                  Hyderabad House
                  448 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                  Amber India
                  Mission and Fourth, San Francisco, CA

                  1. re: osho

                    Try Tabla Taste, Foster City. Last one I had there was high on flavor, maybe a touch dry. If you haven't been there before, take your GPS.

              2. Hyderabad House in Palo Alto - I had the chicken and thought it was delicious - Melanie's report of the goat version was that it was tasty but the meat was tough.

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/459965

                1. I've had biriyani at Kabab & Curry's, Hyderabad House, Taste Buds (S.Indian homestyle), Athidi (buffet), Amber (Santana Row), Shalimar, & maybe Shan (memory fails me).

                  Hyderabad House's chicken b. is good but standout is Kabab and Curry's. Biriyani is available Fri-Sun with only chicken or goat offered and only at dinner I believe (call first). Both the chicken & goat are flavorful & incredibly moist but I felt there was more meat in the chicken version than the goat (could have been just that night).

                  I don't know where you live but we think it is worth the 30 min. trek down the Peninsula:-)

                  http://www.kababandcurrys.com/

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: ceekskat

                    I live in the city(SF), and have eaten the lamb biryani at K&C, but have not been impressed. Their lamb chops and seekh kababs are outstanding, though.

                    I really want to give Hyderabad House a shot as well, since it has had more than a few favourable mentions on this board.

                    1. re: osho

                      The lamb biryani at K&C varies quite a bit: I've had both outstanding and poor versions there. It's served only on Wed/Fri/Sun, alternating w/ chicken biryani, I think. (I never order chicken anything anywhere, so can't really say.)

                    2. re: ceekskat

                      It's wedding season and thus, I have been eating a heck of a lot of biryani lately - although catered - and just wanted to stop by and put in a plug for Shan's goat biryani. It was ordered light on the ghee and had been cooked with a green herb (I believe mint) and was deliciously spiced with wonderfully tender meat. People were also absolutely raving about the raita of all things...

                    3. Come south to the El Camino Biryani in Santa Clara county. So many great biryanis in different styles, including:

                      - Hyderabad House in Palo Alto
                      - Mirchi Indian Cafe in Mountain View
                      - Taste Buds in Sunnyvale
                      - Athidhi in Sunnyvale
                      - Zafran in Santa Clara

                      This isn't even counting all the fine biryanis available at the vegetarian places in the area - I too like some chicken, goat, or lamb in my biryanis.

                      Many of these tend to be more Andhra/Hyderabad style, but Zafran is a Pakistani style that is also excellent.

                      Michael

                      -----
                      Hyderabad House
                      448 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                      Taste Buds
                      673 Grape Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                      Athidhi
                      727 South Wolfe Road, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                      Zafran Restaurant
                      1855 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA

                      Mirchi Indian Cafe
                      867 E El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: mdg

                        I was talking to some Indian colleagues yesterday, and they mentioned this place called Hyderabad Biryani House in Fremont ! They were raving about it, just want to check if any 'hounds have been there and what your impressions may be.

                        1. re: osho

                          Hi Osho, if you are going to head down to Fremont/Newark, don't bother with Spice Hut. I had the mutton kacchi biryani and although it tasted pretty good and they were quite generous with the meat, there was so much ghee that about halfway through eating the rice was congealing onto my fingers and I gave up eating it. Pretty gross.

                          1. re: osho

                            Haven't heard of it, thanks for the tip. Abysmal decor aside, yelp reviews do look promising. Please do report back if you try it and keep in mind you didn't agree with the Indian 'hounds regarding K&C. LOL.

                            "The likes of which I have eaten in the UK and India."...my sister just moved to the Chicago 'burbs & am looking forward to exploring Devon Ave. on future visits!

                            1. re: ceekskat

                              Apparently the quality of biryani does vary at K&C.

                              OT: Do not miss Sabri Nihari on Devon Ave on the Jinnah side. Intensely flavourful nihari, biryani and haleem.

                          2. re: mdg

                            We visited Hyderabad House this past Friday, and I've got to say the biryani was pretty good. It is not the biryani - infused with flavour that Jiyo refers to below. An absolute pleasure to dig in at the end of a brutal work week :-)

                            However, it has the requisite spices - typical Andhra style.

                            Also liked the chicken vindaloo and chicken reshmi kababs here. In fact, I highly recommend the reshmi kabab.

                            Methinks I'll eat at all these places and start a Biryani thread a la Sushi Monster.

                            Thanks for all your recommendations !

                          3. Not sure if either will grade high on the "Real" test, but the version at Vik's Chaat in Berkeley (might be made on weekends only?) is delicious and rather spicy, and at Burma Superstar there is a chicken and rice casserole, with chicken on the bone, and shrimp too, that is very tastey.

                            -----
                            Vik's Chaat House
                            2390 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710

                            Burma Superstar
                            1345 Park Street, Alameda, CA

                            1. I just tried both Zafran and Kabob and Curry which are both in San Jose area and listed here. I wanted to throw in my two cents and tell you that Zafran's biryani is excellent. Heavily spiced and full of goat-ie goodness, this was rich and had complex flavours and spices that I had never even tasted before. I had the goat which was on the bone, but tender and fallin' right off.

                              Kabob and Curry was very bland in comparison. The rice was half white and half orange, as though they did not even bother to mix the spices in consistently. It was barely spiced at all with a couple peices of very chewy lamb and at the bottom a few sauteed onions. My guess is that the biryani here is for people who have never had a real one, but if you go accross the street to Zafran's I think you will find an authentic one.

                              Please if you try it, let me know your opinion.

                              Thanks.

                              -Christiaan.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: sekelmaan

                                I have had the exact same experience at K&C. Hence my post above.

                                I will certainly try Zafran and report back.

                                Cheers

                                1. re: sekelmaan

                                  Read your other post & do plan to visit Zafran. Odd, I have *never* come across biriyani as you describe at K&C. It has always been turmeric infused yellow with bits of fresh mint providing for a flavorful biriyani. My one complaint was that the goat version did not have enough meat vs. the chicken. Thanks again for your report.

                                  1. re: ceekskat

                                    In the fremont area: http://www.dumbiryani.us/

                                  2. re: sekelmaan

                                    I just tried the goat biryani at Zafran last night, and it was a big disappointment: the goat pieces were really tough and chewy, and there were HUGE lumps of potatoes in the rice! I've never encountered that before. The rice was pretty flavorful, but no better than K&C at its best, nor Hydrabad House in Palo Alto. But Zafran's mixed tandoori grill was pretty good, as well as the Chicken Tikka.

                                    1. re: Claudette

                                      Potatoes are pretty common in the Bengali versions I've had.

                                  3. I wasn't a big biryani fan until I had the lamb version at Cupertino Bakery. Their lamb biryani is flavorful, and the meat is juicy, tender, and plentiful. The DH and I couldn't get enough of it. The chicken version is good too, but I'm partial to lamb meat. The restaurant only serves one type of biryani each day, and the selection of the day depends on the day of the week. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday they have chicken. Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday they have lamb. There is also a daily lunch buffet (including weekends) but I don't know if the biryani is available as a buffet item.

                                    The restaurant itself is a little odd. Half of the business seems to be cooked food (with emphasis on dosas etc), the other half is bakery desserts and cakes, both Indian and western style.

                                    -----
                                    Cupertino Bakery
                                    10251 S De Anza Blvd, Cupertino, CA

                                    1. Biryanis sold in the bay area are all "assembled" biryanis, so the rice has not infused but coated flavors.
                                      OTOH yakhni biryanis are the bomb

                                      http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/...
                                      enjoy
                                      fun starts @ 4:35 mark

                                      1. Real Biryani is like asking for Real BBQ. There are just so many variants.

                                        To me Real Biryani is rice par cooked, the meat and spices with gravy cooked separately. Multiple layers of rice (drizzled with saffron infused milk) and meat gravy then finished in an Oven (or Dum).

                                        I don't think you get there anywhere in the Bay Area.

                                        I like the following:

                                        Tastebuds for South Indian Home style With boiled egg.
                                        Pakwan in Fremont makes a good lamb biryani with side of Mirch Ka Salan.
                                        Amber Mountain View.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: oarnura

                                          I second Amber India in Mountain View. I've eaten biryani at many South Asian restaurants in the South Bay, from Santa Clara to Palo Alto. And Amber India in Mountain View is the only one that passes the so-called "floor test": if you drop a handful of biryani on a hard floor, no two grains of rice stick to each other. The reigning style in these parts tends toward the gummy.

                                        2. Favorite Indian on A St. in Hayward. Great Biryani.

                                          -----
                                          Favorite Indian Restaurant
                                          24052 Mission Blvd,, Hayward, CA 94544

                                          1. I think this is the third time I've recommended Gulzaar on this board today, but I can't help it. The food is so good!

                                            Here's my take on their chicken tikka... which is better biryani than their actual biryani.

                                            Amazing and Cheap Middle Eastern/Pakistani Food at Gulzaar Halal Restaurant in San Jose: For the Best Biryani Ever Don’t Order the Biryani
                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/593487

                                            -----
                                            Gulzaar
                                            1880 W San Carlos St, San Jose, CA

                                            1. PERSONAL BIRYANI RANKINGS (inspired by Melanie)

                                              1. Amber India
                                              2. Athidhi
                                              3. Burmese Kitchen
                                              4. Kabab and Curry’s
                                              5. Taste Buds
                                              6. Shalimar
                                              7. Lahore Karahi
                                              8. Zafran
                                              9. Spice Hut
                                              10. Hyderabad House
                                              11. Pakwan

                                              -----
                                              Spice Hut
                                              594 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                                              Amber India Restaurant
                                              2290 El Camino Real Suite 9, Mountain View, CA 94040

                                              Lahore Karahi
                                              612 Ofarrell St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                                              Taste Buds
                                              673 Grape Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                                              Athidhi
                                              727 South Wolfe Road, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                                              Amber India
                                              Mission and Fourth, San Francisco, CA

                                              Zafran Restaurant
                                              1855 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: osho

                                                What time of day and what day of the week (if there is one) do you usually go to Athidhi? And, which location? I started doing a mini biryani crawl looking for potential caterers a few months back, went to Athidhi in Fremont on a Monday night and although the spicing was correct, the sum of the parts was pretty abysmal on my visit. Shards of chicken bones all throughout the dish, really skimpy on the portion...

                                                -----
                                                Athidhi
                                                47986 Warm Springs Blvd, Fremont, CA 94539

                                                1. re: osho

                                                  I recently had the beef biryani at Burmese Kitchen, and feel that the other biryanis that I have compare well. 1) chicken biryani at Indus Village in Berkeley. 2) lamb biryani at Biryani House in Berkeley. The Indus Village chicken biryani is milder in overall flavor, I feel turmeric is dominant but there is usually a little chili heat and plenty of onions and herbs. They used to use the little sour plum-like thing as well, but I haven't gotten one in a while. Chicken has always been tender and moist. The biryani house biryani was much stronger flavored and quite spicy, more agressively seasoned like the Burmese Kitchen one. Both are as good to me as my Burmese Kitchen experience. The seasonings in both cases appear to me to have permeated the rice, not irregularly and indifferently coated.

                                                  I'm not a biryani expert but thought I'd through it out there.

                                                  -----
                                                  Indus Village Restaurant
                                                  1920 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                                  Biryani House
                                                  2011 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                                                2. Delicious chicken biryani at Little Yangon.

                                                  -----
                                                  Little Yangon
                                                  6318 Mission St, Daly City, CA 94014