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Platano or Jayakarta in downtown Berkeley?

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I'm looking for a vegetarian-friendly restaurant in downtown Berkeley for Saturday night. We want something less expensive (and more casual) than Revival or Five. We like La Note, but are ready for something new. Has anyone tried Platano or Jayakarta? Or any other recommendations? Thanks.

I just had another idea -- has anyone been to Cha-Ya lately? I haven't been since the expansion. If we get there at 6:15 on a Saturday night, what will the wait be? It used to be crazy.

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Jayakarta Restaurant
2026 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

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  1. Jayakarta is great though I don't know how vegetarian-friendly it is.

    Same goes for Ahn Hong (Vietnamese), I've had lots of nice vegetables in the meat and fish dishes.

    Udupi (Indian) is vegetarian. I love the thali, the sag paneer, and the chile uttapham.

    Beta Lounge is vegetarian-friendly and the food is good. Saturn is vegetarian, haven't been there yet myself.

    The one time I tried it, Platano had great pupusas but the worst excuse for curtido I've hever had, so I haven't been back.

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    Jayakarta Restaurant
    2026 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

    Udupi Palace
    1901 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

    Anh Hong
    2067 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

    Beta Lounge
    2129 Durant Ave, Berkeley, CA

    Saturn Cafe
    2175 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

    6 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      sadly, udupi just isn't as good as it used to be. i used to go regularly, but now the spicing has become more ho-hum. and they rely a lot more on potatoes than before. by contrast, the udupi in the Mission is really superb.

      1. re: escargot3

        Yes, I was not impressed by Udupi the one time I went a couple years ago. Everything seemed bland.

        1. re: escargot3

          The Udupi Place chain veers wildly from one location to another. Unfortunately for the N. East bay area the Berkeley location is the worst.

          1. re: chefj

            the berserkley Udupi skates by because there was little competition in dhosai-uttapam- based S.Indian veg. places north of Fremont or S.Mateo until Dosa opened a couple of years ago, except for weekends at Vik's (no veg. thali at Vik's, though, is there?). of the numerous places in the genre we've tried, the berserkley Udupi has the blandest, least interesting food.

            1. re: moto

              VIk's has masala dosa every day now. Not downtown, though.

              1. re: moto

                Apparently they heard you and decided to change. ;-)
                http://sf.eater.com/archives/2011/10/...

        2. we found the food more varied and interesting at Jayakarta, compared to Platano [not sure what might be vegetarian there other than pupusas and salads], and they offer vegetarian or vegan options on several of their dishes (with the assumption that doufu or tempeh are acceptable substitutions for the poultry or meat). you might need to confirm that the courses' ingredients do not include the seasoning they sometimes have like fermented fish sauce or shrimp paste.

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          Jayakarta Restaurant
          2026 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

          1 Reply
          1. re: moto

            Did you try Jayakarta's vegetarian versions? I'm worried that the food depends pretty heavily on fish sauce and terasi and the food might be pretty bland if you left them out. No such worry with Udupi or Cha-Ya.

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            Jayakarta Restaurant
            2026 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

          2. You might look at Slow which is in DT Berkeley, small menu but veggie options, organic, casual, not pricey...mom and pop place.

            1. Jayakarta is good, interesting and cheap. Make sure they know that you want vegetarian, many Indonesian vegetable dishes have trasi( fermented shrimp paste) or fish sauce, it can be omitted as long as they know.

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              Jayakarta Restaurant
              2026 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

              2 Replies
              1. re: chefj

                Will food taste good without it, though?? I like Jayakarta, but I'd be a little leery of eating there as a vegetarian.

                I haven't been to Cha-ya since expansion either, but the last time I saw it (post-expansion), there wasn't a line.

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                Jayakarta Restaurant
                2026 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                1. re: eethan

                  Yes, I do think that it will still be good. Most S.E. Asian cuisines have a good amount of experience cooking vegetarian you just need to be specific as to your restrictions.

              2. Thanks for all the suggestions. Jayakarta was closed by chance that night, so we couldn't try that. And we walked past Slow -- the menu looked awesome but it was a bit *too* casual (no proper tables inside, just a counter) for a once-in-a-blue-moon date night! So, we ended up at Cha-Ya. It was SO delicious. Our favorite dish was the tempura sushi (Cha Ya Roll) and it was incredibly light, not greasy at all. Only the potsickers were a bit bland. There was no wait for a table. And it was so nice to have a menu my husband and I could both eat from (I'm lactose-intolerant, he's veggie) and share. (We didn't try the desserts -- went to Naia instead.)

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                Jayakarta Restaurant
                2026 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                3 Replies
                1. re: jessinEC

                  Slow has tables in the patio outside in back but I don't know if they are used at night and there aren't many nights this time of year that are nice enough.
                  http://www.berkeleyside.com/wp-conten...

                  1. re: jessinEC

                    I also agree that Slow is too casual for a date night (and too casual for the dinner prices IMHO!).

                    In the future, you might want to try out Green Papaya. It is all vegetarian Thai. It is very casual and pretty inexpensive, but bright and the food is good. You could order nearly anything on the menu if you're lactose intolerant, and everything if you're veggie.

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                    Green Papaya
                    2016 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                    1. re: milklady

                      thanks for the recommendation!