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Jul 30, 2011 05:45 PM

Best Indian Restaurant-Lunch-East Bay

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. Chaat Bhavan is good.

    Chaat Bhavan
    5355 Mowry Ave, Fremont, CA 94538

    1. Vic's. - Cached
      2390 4th St • BERKELEY, CA 94710 (Closed on Mondays). Great prices, casual Berkeley scene. Try the dosa's. Vegan. Indian.

      12 Replies
      1. re: mare

        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

          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

            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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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. 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

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

                2. 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: escargot3

                      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

                        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.

                  1. 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

                      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.