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The best Tikka Masala in the Bay Area?

roster Feb 8, 2010 10:02 AM

Right now, My favorite is:

Indus Village
1920 San Pablo Ave
Berkeley, CA 94702
(510) 549-5999

Meat is juicy, not dry, has a wood fire smoke note to it.
Sauce is rich, nutty without too much tomato or cream.

Who beats Indus?

  1. e
    ellenjean12 Feb 9, 2010 07:36 PM

    For a San Francisco restaurant, my vote is for Mehfil (http://mehfilindian.com) (600 Folsom). Amazing TM. The sag aloo and bengan bharta are great too. not greasy, very fresh tasting. the best naan too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ellenjean12
      Paul H Feb 10, 2010 04:47 PM

      Another vote for Mehfil. They do excellent renditions of the classics and are reasonably priced.

      Mehfil Indian Cuisine
      600 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

    2. a
      abstractpoet Feb 9, 2010 05:47 PM

      For what it's worth, the Lamb Tikka Masala at Indus is also excellent. I haven't tried the chicken.

      1. m
        ML8000 Feb 9, 2010 04:16 PM

        I'm not a huge Indian food buff but that might be related to eating some sub-par stuff when I was younger. That said, I like Indus quite a bit. Never had the tikka masala but everything I've had there was very, very good, very clean flavors, well prepared and not heavy or the often muddled stuff. The price however is the kicker...you can eat very well there for under $10 p/person. The combos are a deal.

        1. DiveFan Feb 9, 2010 03:07 PM

          IIRC Monsoon Masala in Pleasant Hill makes a very good CTM. In fact, everything I've tried there has amazing spicing.

          To the OP, I hope that you go back for the beef, lamb and goat dishes at Indus Village. Too many IndoPak restos stick to, frankly, boring chicken dishes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: DiveFan
            roster Feb 10, 2010 07:07 AM

            I really like th goat dish I have had there. I usually get the regular menu goat curry, rather than the special. When I asked the server did not recommend the special, said it was soupy. What we had off the menu was excellent.

          2. Robert Lauriston Feb 9, 2010 12:18 PM

            Indus's is one of my two favorites. The other is Naan 'n' Chutney's.

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

            Naan N' Chutney - CLOSED
            474 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

            1 Reply
            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              roster Feb 9, 2010 02:50 PM

              I show Naan N' Chutney (SOMA) as closed. Can anyone confirm?

            2. a
              arlenemae Feb 9, 2010 12:02 PM

              I've never been to Indus, but I've always liked Shalimar in Fremont.

              1 Reply
              1. re: arlenemae
                vday Feb 9, 2010 12:12 PM

                Have had the tikka masala at Shalimar twice in the last few weeks and it is very good. They brought me extra sauce when they saw I had finished the dish but still had basmati rice left:-) The sauce is fragrant/ spicy and delicious though a bit oily. The chicken is nicely smokey, and just a tad dry, but the sauce compensates for that well. The standout here is the freshness of the spices - they must do a very large volume of business - - the flavors are great. Order at the counter for lunch (at dinner they took the order at the table).

              2. j
                jsaimd Feb 9, 2010 06:46 AM

                Do you consider butter chicken in the same category? If so Amber India (Mountain View) is the only one I find worth eating. It is the one dish there that really stands out I think.

                11 Replies
                1. re: jsaimd
                  Steve Green Feb 9, 2010 07:24 AM

                  I'm with you on that. I've tried butter chicken in dozens of restaurants, and none have come close to Amber's.

                  1. re: Steve Green
                    vulber Feb 9, 2010 07:36 AM


                    1. re: vulber
                      mikeh Feb 9, 2010 08:37 AM


                      1. re: mikeh
                        vulber Feb 9, 2010 09:31 AM

                        for the record, butter chicken is actually called chicken makhani, and i dont' believe it contains tomatoes.....

                        1. re: vulber
                          jsaimd Feb 9, 2010 12:00 PM

                          Yes it contains tomatoes and is called butter chicken


                          1. re: vulber
                            a_and_w Feb 10, 2010 09:50 AM

                            Most chicken makhani I've had has tomatoes (though they may just be cheating by reusing the tikka masala sauce). I think the difference is the type of meat (dark meat tandori chicken in makhani, vs. white meat chicken tikka in chicken tikka masala).

                            1. re: a_and_w
                              Melanie Wong Feb 10, 2010 10:06 AM

                              Yes, chicken makhani aka butter chicken has tomatoes. And around here, the main difference is the dark meat vs. white meat you mention. I also usually find that the places that bother to make chicken makhani when CTM is so popular and easy to sell, tend to do a better job on crafting the sauce for the makhani.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong
                                2sjfoodies Feb 10, 2010 02:18 PM

                                Melanie-I always appreciate your input, good info. What is your favorite Indian Food rest. in the South Bay.?

                                1. re: 2sjfoodies
                                  Melanie Wong Feb 10, 2010 02:47 PM

                                  Sorry, I'm not really current on the Indian food scene in the South Bay these days, not having eaten at many of my favorites or the newcomers in the last two years. I've been cooking my own murgh makhani and dal of the week at home. But I will say that I did love the Andrhan food (vegetarian) at Tirupathi Bhimas in Milpitas and ate there more than a dozen times. There are few restaurants of any stripe that I've been to more than a handful of times, so it was clearly a favorite. Hope you'll try it and report back.

                          2. re: mikeh
                            Claudette Feb 9, 2010 12:18 PM

                            fifth. BTW: The butter chicken at Amber India in Mt.V is much better than at Amber in Santana Row.

                            Also, the chicken tikka masala at Kabab N Curry (Santa Clara) is terrific.

                            1. re: Claudette
                              artemis Feb 9, 2010 06:00 PM

                              the SF version is great though.

                    2. twocents Feb 8, 2010 10:35 PM

                      I have not had better than Indus, but I don't go to a lot of other places. That said, recently it has not has been as good as its peaks. I go regularly; I don't know what the deal is exactly, but the quality here varies a lot over time. I assume cooks/management changes. It's never bad, though, it's just that it's sometimes not as good as it has been. The chicken in it isalways good; they do a good job with the tandoor. I think right now it is under spiced relative to its best, and the tomato to cream ratio is a little too low. Actually, everything I have had there for the last month and half is distinctly off-peak,but again still good.

                      House of Curries on Solano is usually okay, too much cream, not enough seasoning. Biryani House on Shattuck was lower down than that, not bland exactly, but dull. Surprising, as I have liked everything else I've tried there, esp. with regards to the agressive seasoning.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: twocents
                        roster Feb 9, 2010 09:43 AM

                        Interesting. I did not know about the variation at Indus. My first time there was a week or two ago. I thought it was head and shoulders above. Maybe I hit a good night because I thought it was fab.

                        House of Curries is decent if you are in the hood.

                        I did not mention Ajanta before. I have not had their Tikka. I think their food may be the best all listed, but the cost is also a bit higher. I am sure that thier tikka would be on a whole other level, but when I go there I like to get the stuff the other places don't have.

                      2. Annie S. Feb 8, 2010 10:17 PM

                        No expert but SF-wise one I've liked a lot has been delivery from Little Delhi in the Tenderloin. On a good night the chicken tastes wonderfully of the tandoor and the sauce is notably complex. Some nights, though, they go overboard with the cream and muck it all up. Also, they don't hold back much with the spicing, which is great in other dishes, but "medium" can be surprisingly spicy and disrupt the balance in tikka masala. Haven't enjoyed their other dishes as much. Decent samosas though.

                        I also remember having really good tikka masala at the Naan-N-Curry on Irving in the Inner Sunset, but haven't been back in awhile.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Annie S.
                          saffrongold Feb 9, 2010 08:15 AM

                          Little Delhi is recently closed, but the chef Kamal has reopened at 9th Ave & Judah at Curry Village. I have not tried tikka masala yet, but what I have had is delicious and fresh. Meats are halal.

                          1. re: saffrongold
                            Annie S. Feb 9, 2010 09:41 AM

                            I don't see any indications online that Little Delhi at 83 Eddy St. is closed - website is up, and it's still up on GrubHub-type sites. A yelper mentions that the chef Kamal sold Little Delhi at Eddy & Jones a couple of years ago. Definitely will have to try Curry Village.

                            1. re: saffrongold
                              vinchar Feb 9, 2010 01:50 PM

                              Little Delhi is NOT closed. I ate goat curry there yesterday.

                              1. re: vinchar
                                saffrongold Feb 9, 2010 02:46 PM

                                I am sorry about the misinformation. I read he shuttered after big rent hike. Apologies.

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