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best authentic indian food in the bay area?

I am an indian and a foodie and one of the things most anticiapted things about me recent move to the Bay Area is eating excellent authentic indian food, and with luck, better than I can make at home!!

Am off to a good start with hole-in-the-wall ruled by paratha-nazi (a-la soup nazi):

Rajjot Sweet and Snacks

1234 S Wolfe Rd
Sunnyvale, CA 94086

(408) 730-5510

Awesome parathas (stuffed whole-wheat tortilla-like bread) - the radish/mooli and methi/fenugreek were very very good, the aloo/potato and gobhi/cauliflower were a little underseasoned.

Any other suggestions?

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  1. Vic's in Berkeley.

    2390 4th St. Get off at University, head toward the hills, turn right at 6th... right on Channing.

    Chaat. Yum.

    Lots of South Bay license plates on Saturday afternoons...

    1 Reply
    1. re: hobanny

      Vik's is fine. But for chaat, Chat Patta Corner in Fremont is superior.

      -----
      Chat Patta Corner
      34751 Ardenwood Blvd, Fremont, CA 94555

      Dana Bazar
      5113 Mowry Ave, Fremont, CA 94538

    2. I'm a big fan of Ajanta in Berkeley. Lachu does regional dishes and rotates the menu so there are always new things to try. The tandoor portobello mushrooms are excellent

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      Ajanta Restaurant
      1888 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

      1. Let us know what you discover, foopenn, favorably and otherwise.

        1. Also in Berkeley, Priya doesn't seem to tailor their cooking to Western tastes as much as others. There are many dishes that I haven't seen anywhere else, and their spicing is assertive and complex.

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          Priya Indian Cuisine
          2072 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

          1. You're getting a lot of east bay responses, but I've eaten at Vik's and Ajanta, and starting closer to home will give lots of great food without the 40 minute drive. The level of indian in Sunnyvale is generally superior, and I welcome another contributor in this area - I look forward to your posts, and will give Rajjot a try. There are some longer posts on the issue, pointing out Madura and SV and such.

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            Ajanta Restaurant
            1888 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

            1 Reply
            1. re: bbulkow

              I agree. I eat in the east bay but find that when I do eat in the south bay the food is much better. Ajanta was too me very "saucy" and not as piquant as some of the places I've tried in Fremont area.

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              Ajanta Restaurant
              1888 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

            2. There's tons of great Indian food in Silicon Valley. A few of the options are:

              1) Taste Buds in Sunnyvale - delicious, soulful, homey food in a small storefront, with great seasonal gongura specials.

              2) Hyderabad House in Palo Alto. Nobody does achari dishes better. Other dishes are consistently good as well.

              3) Sakoon in Mountain View. This has been the high-end leader in the past couple of years - the first to do Modern Indian in a way that has full Indian flavors as well as creativity (pace Junoon, Mantra, etc.). It's in the middle of a chef change so we'll see what the new chef does with the menu over the coming weeks.

              4) Amber in Mountain View, San Jose, and San Francisco - the more traditional higher-end standard has responded well to increased competition over the years and - in Mountain View at least - is cooking better than ever.

              5) Spicy Leaves in Los Altos. Good overall with particular attention to the Sri Lankan specialties on the menu.

              6) Madura in Sunnyvale. Tops for Tamil Nadu vegetarian cuisine.

              7) Madras Cafe in Sunnyvale. Best dosas in town.

              8) Chaat Paradise in Mountain View. Another fine vegetarian option.

              And that's just the short list. Have fun and let us know more about your discoveries!

              Michael

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              Madras Cafe
              1177 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

              Hyderabad House
              448 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

              Chaat Paradise
              165 E El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

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

              Taste Buds
              673 Grape Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

              Spicy Leaves Indian Cuisine
              4546 El Camino Real #A5, Los Altos, CA

              Sakoon
              357 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

              Madura Indian Cuisine
              1635 Hollenbeck Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

              11 Replies
              1. re: mdg

                I love Vik's, but I've eaten at a few of the others mentioned and they're great too. If you can't make it out though, might I recommend a great ready-made brand I eat all the time on the go - Tasty Bite. I buy mine at Whole Foods and it serves as a quick, delicious Indian meal when I don't have time to go out to eat. Otherwise, I'm also a fan of Priya and Ajanta as well. Bon appetit!

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                Ajanta Restaurant
                1888 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                1. re: mdg

                  1) I have never been wowed by Hydrabad House, but haven't focused on the achari. Not sure it's worth a drive if you're further south.

                  2) my favorite vindaloo is Darbar in PA. Given the focus on chaat and dosas and south indian, a deep rich vindaloo is sometimes welcome.

                  3) Turmeric's (SV downtown) lunch buffet deserves a mention - never been for dinner.

                  1. re: mdg

                    Who is the new chef at Sakoon? I went on Father's Day and the food was excellent but the old menu was still in effect.(Service however was another story...)

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                    Sakoon
                    357 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                    1. re: IanW

                      I read that it's Alexander Paul Xalxo, formerly of Tamarind and Earthen Oven in New York, and that it would be a few weeks until the new menu was in place. Service at Sakoon has alas never been as good as the food or decor.

                      Michael

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                      Sakoon
                      357 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                      1. re: mdg

                        I picked up a copy of Sakoon's new menu. Evident changes are at least a partial shift toward more recognizable or classic dishes and less fusion-esque, though the menu remains diverse and interesting. I've had some of the best, probably the best, Bay Area Indian food in 30 years there. (Note: Sakoon, like most Indian restaurants hereabouts, offers a lunch buffet and Sakoon's is more lavish and varied than any others in the neighborhood; still it's a lunch buffet and does not show the range, creativity, or freshness of the cooked-to-order dishes so if you want to know Sakoon, order from the menu, preferably for dinner.) Sakoon continues to offer a bar menu too, with the two premium draft beers very inexpensive during "Happy Hour" around 5-7PM.

                        The greatest Bay Area concentration of immigrants from India by far is in the South Bay and lower Peninsula (after 50, yes 50, years of technically-skilled immigrants and their descendants settling there, especially from India, China, and Iran) so that is where to look for Bay Area Indian restaurants.

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                        Sakoon
                        357 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                    2. re: mdg

                      I'll second Taste Buds! Everything I've tried from there has been tasty and fresh. Their dishes also aren't as unindated with cream as I've tried at other Indian restaurants (could it be because they're more Pakistani?) Their lunch buffet is $7.95, and IMO food-wise is on par with some of the more expensive ones. Just no ambiance.

                      A few months ago I would have highly recommended Turmeric in Sunnyvale for their lunch buffet. They've had some unusual dishes like steamed mustard leaves and taro curry, but it seems to have become pretty standard as of late.

                      I also recommend Mynt in San Jose (off Saratoga.) I've heard others say it's whitewashed, but I've personally found the food to be high-quality and innovative. It's not too expensive either for what you get.

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                      Taste Buds
                      673 Grape Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                      The Mynt
                      5210 Prospect Road, San Jose, CA

                      1. re: mdg

                        HelP-
                        we visit family in PA, from socal, and are big indian/pakistani fans. we picked Hyderabad off the street, years ago, and have always been thrilled (we plan our flights, like most things, around eating ) BUT last visit were very Disappointed. was this a fluke?

                        here we are silicone valley adjacent- THERE HAS TO BE a better place. please come out from hiding. a family member's regular cabbie recommended Scheherazade (not an encouraging name) We a'int looking for no stinkin table cloths

                        1. re: gore_mutt

                          I've found Hyderabad House's achari dishes to be as mind-blowingly great as ever. But if you want to try other places, there are certainly lots of options. A lot of places here like Hyderabad House focus on more southern-style cooking. If you want a more Pakistani style, no-frills self-service place, then Shalimar or Shah in Sunnyvale would be good choices. Taste Buds in Sunnyvale is another great option, but it's a small storefront compared to the larger places.

                          Amber and Sakoon have tablecloths, but they also have consistently excellent food in a pleasant atmosphere. Peacock in Mountain View is in between; table service but no tablecloths.

                          Plus all the great vegetarian places mentioned earlier in this thread, but it sounds like you want a place that serves meat as well.

                          Enjoy!

                          Michael

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

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

                          Taste Buds
                          673 Grape Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                          Shah
                          962 W. El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                          Shalimar
                          1146 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                          Sakoon
                          357 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

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

                          1. re: mdg

                            Just had fabulous no-frills inexpensive dinner last Friday night at Shalimar in Fremont.

                            1. re: vday

                              thank you everyone (above and below) for all your kind suggestions.

                              actually made it to Shalimar in Freemont (which was what the relative's cabbie recommended.) my brother, clearly not a "foodie," was pretty amused that we drove all that way for lunch- and then ended up in a branch of the same restaurant near his office (Shalimar)

                              in any case- it was fine- although i would not say more than that, and not imho the equivalent of Hyderbad House (except for that last trip to H.H.) better than many, not a place i would have to rush back to (or plan by flight schedule around as we used to w/HH) unique way of doing garlic naan. still going to be looking next trip to the area, and will try some of the others from this thread.

                              although certainly if i was in the area, Shalimar would be a fine place for lunch.

                              1. re: gore_mutt

                                I had the same experience with Shalimar Sunnyvale. OK but not worth a trip. Sunnyvale excels at south indian, imho.

                      2. This is an interesting thread, I love Indian food! Thank you for all the suggestions!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: foodchica

                          I am a big fan of Ajanta. It’s truly a great restaurant. The menu changes once a month, I believe, with new main courses from different parts of India added and older ones discontinued. The nice thing about that is that every meal at Ajanta ends up being very different. And these are not generic curries. Every dish uses very different and very complex spice mixtures. I have had dishes at Ajanta that are very unique and completely unlike anything I have tried at other Indian restaurants. The Tandori scallop appetizer is a must try.

                          -----
                          Ajanta Restaurant
                          1888 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                          1. re: Ridge

                            I really love Cafe Lotus in Fairfax on Sir Francis Drake Blvd. It is more Northern Indian. Their chicken makhni is fine.

                            -----
                            Cafe Lotus
                            1912 SIR Francis Drake Blvd, Fairfax, CA 94930

                        2. I enjoy Anokha in Novato, Very fresh and lots of vegetarian options.

                          http://www.anokharestaurant.com/

                          1. Lived in India for some time and cook it a lot at home. Having lived Berkeley, SF and South Bay, I say South bay is way ahead in terms of Indian

                            Northern: Amber, also Shalimar on El Camino in Sunnyvale, And Rangoli on Union in West San Jose. Turmerik is not bad but its been awhile since I visited.

                            Southern; lots now centered in Sunnyvale; Srvana Bhavan On Mary in sunnyvale, Madura also not bad. Humble but very authentic, Swatdi Tiffin on Lawrence in Sunnyvale. Within 2-3 blocks of Swatdi are several other southern places. Mynt definitely not bad, Goa influenced. Komala vilas in Sunnyvale a good place for tiffin meal.

                            -----
                            The Mynt
                            5210 Prospect Road, San Jose, CA

                            1. SF indian ---
                              I drove past Ruchi, 474 3rd street, just about under the freeway. Unassuming place.
                              Ran across Mehfil when researching Ruchi, also SOMA.
                              Chaat Cafe I know.

                              Anyone been to Ruchi or Mehfil?

                              -----
                              Ruchi
                              474 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: bbulkow

                                Tried Mehfil last week - very impressed. Their lunch take-out special is an absolute bargain. Also the only Indian place I've been to so far in the Bay Area that offers a Zafrani Lassi (which was excellent).

                                Also the only Indian place I know that changes their menu daily.

                              2. Any chance anyone can weigh in on more East Bay --specifically, Oakland -- options again? I want to get takeout for visiting friends tonight, don't want to wade through Berkeley traffic home and don't want to bother with Khana Peena.

                                Or is this a lost cause, given the better options elsewhere in the bay Area?

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: bgbc

                                  I like Flavors of India a lot, the location on College Ave (technically in Berkeley, not Oakland, but just by half a block). It's generally my Indian of choice when I don't want to drive deeper into Berkeley.

                                  1. re: JasmineG

                                    ditto.
                                    Flavors of India is a fab resto. Dishes are nicely spiced.

                                    And Ajanta on solano is perfecto.

                                    -----
                                    Ajanta Restaurant
                                    1888 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                                    1. re: escargot3

                                      Thanks -- we got Flavors of India from the College location and it was very solid. They forgot the rice... though that could have been a fuzzy cell phone snafu. Lamb saag and Madras were tender; would definitely get these again. Chicken tikka kabob a bit dry. I prefer baingan bharta less chunky and with less tomato but this version had a nice tangy kick. Naan was soft and a good alternative to rice; paratha was the most disappointing -- hard and chewy and rather greasy and not at all flaky.

                                      1. re: bgbc

                                        Glad you got the lamb saag, I think they do great things with lamb, I love that dish there. The naan is also great there. I like their lamb and veg dishes the best.

                                        1. re: JasmineG

                                          I love their lamb vindaloo and chicken curry. Their chicken tikka masala is very dry and bland. Also, if you ask it for very spicy, they will definitely make it spicy. We do take out here all the time and its nice to have a reliable Indian spot so close to home.

                                  2. re: bgbc

                                    It's been a while since my meal at Breads of India. Is it still good? It is also across the border into Berkeley but I think here are less traffic problems in that area.

                                    -----
                                    Breads of India
                                    2448 Sacramento St, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                    1. re: wolfe

                                      I first started going to Bread of India the first week it opened and went regularly for a while. They had this third generation chef there; he was awesome too. So imagine my surprise when I went back a while ago. The food seemed to have lost its luster. I think that opening chef left. Too bad, it used to be really good.

                                      I drive by and the lines aren't what they used to be...but maybe it's the economy.

                                      1. re: achefsbest

                                        A lot of other places have opened since, including two other branches of Breads of India.

                                        My favorite for northern / Pakistani food is Indus Village, though more often I go to House of Curries because they're open late.

                                        -----
                                        House of Curries
                                        2984 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

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

                                  3. Anyone try Viva Goa?

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                                    Viva Goa
                                    2420 Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94123

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. had lunch at Kabana in West Berkeley on University Ave near San Pablo a few days ago. The kari pakori special was $6 (vegetable fritter in spicy yogurt sauce) and nicely done. Another special of theirs that I look for is the bindi masala (okra in spices). The tandoori catfish is a bargain at $9 and better than other versions that I've had.

                                      A notice on a front window said that they are opening Kabana #2 soon at 1025 University Ave which is nearby. That space is larger and has been the home of Bosphorus (Turkish) and various Indian restaurants in the last few years. I wonder if it means that they will expand their menu.

                                      -----
                                      Kabana Restaurant
                                      1106 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                                      1. Udupi Palace is exceptional. They have locations in SF, Sunnyvale and Berkeley. I tried the saag and my cousins had the dosas. We all loved everything. If you haven't tried it, GO! Supremely flavorful and authentic.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: gastronautJ

                                          Udupi in SF is creating really nuanced flavors in their spicing. Unfortunately, the one in Berkeley has lost its appeal.

                                        2. There's nothing as authentic as food cooked at home.
                                          check out http://www.rotivan.com

                                          among brick-and-mortar restaurants, chaat house on el camino and mary comes pretty close to being authentic north-west Indian.