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Best Indian Restaurant-Lunch-East Bay

theomordha Jul 30, 2011 05:45 PM

I am looking for a great Indian/Pakistani/Iranian/Afghani lunch place. I have been to Afghaani Kabob in Fremont. Looking for unintimidating great food for lunch that is not a buffet.

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  1. Robert Lauriston RE: theomordha Jul 30, 2011 06:41 PM

    Chaat Bhavan is good.

    Chaat Bhavan
    5355 Mowry Ave, Fremont, CA 94538

    1. m
      mare RE: theomordha Jul 30, 2011 09:10 PM

      Vic's. www.vikschaatcorner.com/ - Cached
      2390 4th St ā€¢ BERKELEY, CA 94710 (Closed on Mondays). Great prices, casual Berkeley scene. Try the dosa's. Vegan. Indian.

      12 Replies
      1. re: mare
        Robert Lauriston RE: mare Jul 31, 2011 10:58 AM

        Vik's is great. It's not vegan or even vegetarian, many of the dishes contain yogurt or butter and the specials are often fish, chicken, or lamb.

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

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          psb RE: Robert Lauriston May 15, 2012 12:12 AM

          Coming up from Fleemont to Berkeley to go to Viks for Chaat or Dosa seems ... crazy.
          I havent been to Dana Bazar in a while but they were always better than Viks. I dont think Chaat Pata was as good as DB, but again, for Chaat, better than Viks. I have eaten a lot of Chaat on ECR between say Santa Clara (Lawrence Expy) and say Hwy 85 in Sunnyvale and I cant think of a place I've stopped in at which was worse than Viks for chaat. (ok, maybe once place ... this Indian bakery chain whose name I have forgotten).

          Viks isnt aweful but they are just phoning it in .... as they clearly can get away with that ... it is a facotry. It's not an issue of cooking talent but quality control ... you get the chaat ingredient in inconsistent ratios etc.

          Is Viks worth the price ... debateble I suppose.
          Is Viks the best? A destination? Worth the overhead? ... OMG, you think so?

          1. re: psb
            goldangl95 RE: psb May 15, 2012 02:03 PM

            I don't think the original poster is coming from Fremont. I would agree that anyone who lives near Fremont or the South Bay, has better options than Vik's.

            However, Vik's is the only legitimate chaat option within a 30 mile radius of Berkeley. And it's good. The best in the Bay Area, perhaps not. But it is perfectly satisfying when one has a chaat craving.

            1. re: goldangl95
              psb RE: goldangl95 May 15, 2012 06:54 PM

              Mr. Goldang95,

              There was one small Indian resto in Berkeley which had terrible chaat [would not visit again ... definitely a case of "it sucked ... and such small portions too"] but other chaat places I've occasionally gone to were indistinguishable from VIKS [not that they tasted the same, but no clear quality winner ... let's say they were all consistent B- to B+] ... for a specific example, the place near U & MLK ... CHAAT CAFE? [it's been a while since I have been there, so maybe they have gone downhill]. The more meaningful distinction between the two when it comes to chaat is longer drive/longer wait vs hard to park.

              Anyone been to both VIKS and say CHAAT HOUSE [around ECR & S. MARY] or LOVLEY SWEET [ECR & WOLFE] and would seriously claim VIK is materially better?

              If we consider Fleemont the East Bay ...
              1. I thought SALANG PASS was pretty good. It's been a while and I recognize people have had mixed experiences there
              2. My trip to DE AFGAN KABOB HOUSE in Freemont [the original? still around?] blew away all the other DAKH outings in SF, Berkeley. Again it's been a while and the venue isnt appropriate for all occasions. Assume is still open.]

              ok tnx,

              1. re: psb
                goldangl95 RE: psb May 15, 2012 07:19 PM

                I have been to Lovely Sweet a few times and Chaat house once. I've been to VIK's a lot. I did not find either distinctly better than Vik's. I'm sure one could debate the finer points, but I would never tell someone who lived in Berkeley, hey - drive 60 miles to eat Lovely Sweet's chaat you'll be blown away compared to VIK's.

                Now Lovely Sweet's sweet selection .....that's another story

                1. re: psb
                  Melanie Wong RE: psb May 15, 2012 07:27 PM

                  I have been to Chaat Paradise, three locations of Lovely Sweets, as well as Chatpatta (and Dana Bazar before the name change), a couple of Chaat Cafes and Chaat Bhavan. Vik's is very much overhyped compared to those. Of that group, it only beats out Chaat Cafe, perhaps, and not across the board. After my disappointing experiences at Vik's, I recall being advised that I should order meated dishes and not chaat there. But I've not been back, and probably won't as long as my chaat-loving friends who live in Berkeley, Oakland, and Alameda continue to make the drive to Fremont rather than eat at Vik's.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                    goldangl95 RE: Melanie Wong May 15, 2012 07:39 PM

                    This is interesting and very different from my experience. I just ate at Chaat Bhavan a few weeks ago, I literally eat at Chaat Paradise a few times a month, and again while perhaps slightly fresher/more complex chutneys,....I really couldn't taste the chaat as being several steps up. Indeed, my family decided neither place was worth the drive.

                    Now outside chaat, things become a totally different story (dosa, thali meals, vegetarian curries), but for Pani Puri etc. I haven't seen the differences ...

                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                      psb RE: Melanie Wong May 15, 2012 08:26 PM

                      Is CHAAT BHAVAN different from CHAAT HOUSE? If so, Melanie, give CH a shot ... my "Bay Area Reference Chaat" is DAHI PAPRI CHAAT at CHAAT HOUSE.

                      n.b. I very rarely get PANI PURI because I am so motified by the thought of paying 50-75cents per puri ... instead of 5-10cents? ... so I cant judge that one ... and that is for sure one where quality differences matter

                2. re: psb
                  Robert Lauriston RE: psb May 15, 2012 06:43 PM

                  I was agreeing that Vik's is good, not particularly suggesting it to someone coming from Fremont.

                  There may be better places closer to Fremont, though I haven't found them. I went to Tirupathi Bhimas on the promise that it was better than Vik's and didn't find it very different.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    Melanie Wong RE: Robert Lauriston May 15, 2012 07:17 PM

                    It was shocking when you first posted it a few years ago, and still evokes a gasp from me every time you repeat that Tirupathi Bhimas was no better than Vik's or Udupi Palace.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                      goldangl95 RE: Robert Lauriston May 15, 2012 07:20 PM

                      Tirupathi Bhimas is a South Indian place, and so, has a lot more diversity of S. Indian dishes than Vik's, for Chaat I can imagine they're not much better.

                      1. re: goldangl95
                        Robert Lauriston RE: goldangl95 May 16, 2012 09:11 AM

                        I rarely order chaat anywhere. Here's my report on Tirupathi Bhimas:


                        I'd have gone back plenty since then if it weren't an hour away.

              2. m
                ML8000 RE: theomordha Jul 30, 2011 10:50 PM

                I'd say Indus Village for Pakistani/Indian. The chef has a light touch. The tandoori catfish and lamb chops are excellent...but most of the menu is.

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

                1 Reply
                1. re: ML8000
                  rccola RE: ML8000 May 14, 2012 11:33 AM

                  second. tandoori lamb chops are an incredible bargain and achaar chicken is delicious.

                2. h
                  HungryDonkey RE: theomordha Aug 1, 2011 12:03 PM

                  I'd throw Ajanta into the hat. The menu changes monthly (quarterly?), it's not a buffet, and I think it's some of the more innovative Indian food in the East Bay.

                  Ajanta Restaurant
                  1888 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: HungryDonkey
                    escargot3 RE: HungryDonkey Aug 15, 2011 12:37 PM


                    1. re: escargot3
                      psb RE: escargot3 May 15, 2012 12:19 AM

                      I agree Ajanta has had some "innovative" dishes. However innovative isnt always good, esp if you cant get a refund and your waiter essentially acknowledges you were served a failed experiment. I cont remember exact details but some time back I heard either the ingredient list for it was either a dessert or entree and i asked "does that actually work" and the waiter pretty much said it was going to be coming back. On an earlier occasion I tried some 'innovation' which sounded curious to me, but I assume the chef knew he was doing ... but was a kinda sucky I thought.

                      I think they are ok on some classics. I suppose it just turns into whether it's worth the extra $ over cheaper places. I'm not saying you dont get anything for the extra $ ... in the way of 'white table cloth factor', ingredients etc, but not always what I'm looking for with a quick indian lunch/dinner.

                      1. re: psb
                        bbulkow RE: psb May 17, 2012 12:20 AM

                        Ajanta is a peculiar place, to my taste. I find the spices there muted, and the concept of a choice of three dishes you've never heard of offputting. The "classics" are on the menu more as a placeholder or in case of a party member really not liking the specials - like ordering the fish at house of prime rib.

                        I've only been there a half dozen times in more than a decade despite having friends nearby and living very nearby for about 3 years. I almost always wanted quicker, bolder, cheaper - which is not that hard to find.

                        Some folks are big fans, and I've had some nice dinners there.

                  2. j
                    JimKlein RE: theomordha Aug 2, 2011 12:30 PM

                    As long as ambiance is not a priority I would say Kabana on University at San Pablo in Berkeley. My father-in-law introduced me to this restaurant 15 years ago and little has changed since my first visit. Nice curries and naan, wonderful tandoori fish.

                    Kabana Restaurant
                    1106 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: JimKlein
                      zippo RE: JimKlein May 13, 2012 12:10 PM

                      some photos and vid from Kabana a few days ago (hope the link works this time)

                      lamb curry in the lunch special with rice for $6.99 and the tandoori catfish, $10.99, one of my favorite dishes of all time.

                      some of the photos are a little out of focus and there's a short gap in the audio at the 2:00 mark that I think that I can fix. The vid gives a good sense of the fragrant smoke for the still cooking catfish and, if you squint, you see some of the juices still bubbling on the iron skillet.


                      1. re: zippo
                        arktos RE: zippo May 13, 2012 12:57 PM

                        Cool vid. .. thanks!

                      2. re: JimKlein
                        rccola RE: JimKlein May 14, 2012 11:35 AM

                        just wish it was cleaner.

                      3. chefj RE: theomordha Aug 2, 2011 06:10 PM

                        It would help if you narrowed the area and the cuisine.
                        Here are a couple of threads that should help in your culling:
                        Most of the better places are Fremont and South from there.
                        Most of the places mentioned are OK but I have to disagree with "best". Excluding Chaat Bhavan (I have not been) and Ajanta which is one of the best in the Berkly/Oakland area.

                        Ajanta Restaurant
                        1888 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707

                        Chaat Bhavan
                        5355 Mowry Ave, Fremont, CA 94538

                        1. s
                          sonataca RE: theomordha Aug 14, 2011 03:22 AM

                          Shalimar at Fremont was and will always be my favorite Indian-Pakistani restaurant! Their prices are not overly expensive like the rest and the food is absolutely delicious! Lunch times start at 11.

                          Go ahead and enjoy some tasty naan and tandoori chicken!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sonataca
                            Robert Lauriston RE: sonataca Aug 14, 2011 11:05 AM

                            I ate at that Shalimar when I had jury duty. Great option if you're nearby, but I found the menu, quality, and prices are similar to most other Pakistani places.

                            3325 Walnut Ave, Fremont, CA 94538

                          2. c
                            chocolatetartguy RE: theomordha May 15, 2012 06:53 PM

                            On the few times when I crave Indian, I go to Priya in Berkeley and enjoy their lunch buffet. My favorite cousin's wife says thats were all the Indian cabbies go.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: chocolatetartguy
                              bbulkow RE: chocolatetartguy May 17, 2012 12:20 AM

                              Priya is underrated. Price performance is very high.

                              1. re: bbulkow
                                chocolatetartguy RE: bbulkow May 17, 2012 01:02 PM

                                I've also found the staff to be very accomodating. Once when I was there the owner? was making some sort of salty yogurt drink for himself that was not on the buffet. When I asked about it, he poured me a glass. It was kind of good. My memory is that Priya is the nicest looking Indian place on San Pablo. Nicer than Kabana or Indus Village.

                                1. re: chocolatetartguy
                                  bbulkow RE: chocolatetartguy May 17, 2012 09:30 PM

                                  Probably a salty lassi (aka a standard lassi). These are often not on the menu, but any place will make them. A good salti lassi has a little bit of strange spice (like cumin) and the salt doesn't overwhelm. I like 'em but don't have a regular supply. Kind of related to Doogh

                                  1. re: bbulkow
                                    chocolatetartguy RE: bbulkow May 18, 2012 12:30 PM

                                    Actually, my memory served me poorly. It's been a while, but I believe it was a spicy yogurt drink, not salty. I enjoyed it whatever it was.

                                    1. re: chocolatetartguy
                                      chefj RE: chocolatetartguy May 18, 2012 04:23 PM

                                      Probably "Buttermilk" Really just thinned Yogurt usually spiced with Green chilli, Ginger, Black Mustard Seed, Cumin and Cilantro. But it can differ from place to place. Salt Lassi sometimes has powder cumin but not chili.

                                  2. re: chocolatetartguy
                                    rccola RE: chocolatetartguy May 18, 2012 07:35 AM

                                    Not only can you get salted lassi in Indo-Pak restaurants, they have a similar drink at the Turkish Kitchen and many, many ME joints. At Jerusalem Organic Kitchen at the top of Solano or Zand's near the bottom, they sell salted yogurt drinks in the refrigerated cases.

                                    1. re: rccola
                                      bbulkow RE: rccola May 18, 2012 08:21 AM

                                      I've always wondered the fine points between Doogh and Salty Lassi, if any. Wikipedia says Lassi usually has spices, but not always. Doogh often has carbonation, Lassi doesn't. But I've had Lassi without spice and doogh without carbonation, so I wonder if there is another discriminating characteristic.

                                      1. re: bbulkow
                                        chefj RE: bbulkow May 18, 2012 04:27 PM

                                        Doogh usually has mint and cucumber like Raita. Salt Lassi just Salt and sometimes a pinch of ground roasted Cumin.

                                2. re: chocolatetartguy
                                  Robert Lauriston RE: chocolatetartguy May 17, 2012 12:06 PM

                                  I'm not a fan of lunch buffets, but Priya's was the best I've had.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                    sydthekyd RE: Robert Lauriston May 18, 2012 06:52 PM

                                    Taj Mahal (on University half a block below San Pablo) started offering a lunch buffet last week. Smaller than Priya's spread but very good quality (if a little salty for me). Today was chicken curry, goat curry, tandoori chicken, saag paneer, rice pol, naan, and a few other dishes. Very nice, family-run and they replenish the serving dishes often.

                                3. Robert Lauriston RE: theomordha May 16, 2012 09:14 AM

                                  Chaat Bhavan's definitely worth checking out if you're in the area or driving by (it's just off 880). Baigan bartha and chana sag were really good. The parathas are good but given the way they hype them I was expecting more.


                                  1. m
                                    Mike C. Miller RE: theomordha May 20, 2012 09:47 AM

                                    No East Bay discussion of Indian food is complete without a mention of Breads of India in Berkeley. I'm very fond of it. Two or three daily specials and a few regular items. As the name implies, they will also have two or three bread specials that run the gamut. Not a wide selection, but the food has always been top notch, at leas the times I've eaten there.


                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Mike C. Miller
                                      Robert Lauriston RE: Mike C. Miller May 20, 2012 11:02 AM

                                      There's a branch in Oakland as well. Recent thread:


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