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Upscale indian restaurants to host a party - Peninsula or South Bay

I am looking to host a suprise birthday party for my husband and wanted to see if there are upscale Indian restaurants to do so? I will be footing the bill for the party, so nothing extravagant, but I want something decent. Comparable to Sakoon (Castro, Mountain View) or Arka (Sunnyvale). Nothing in the city, since there will be kids involved and I don't want parents to go through the hassle of parking and what not.

Prefer Peninsula (San Mateo, Palo Alto, Mountain View) or South Bay. Would consider Fremont also.


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  1. Is there a reason you prefer to not use Sakoon?

    In Palo Alto/Mountain View: Amber India or Passage to India stick out in my mind. Passage to India has a back room. Not sure if Amber India does.

    In Newark/Fremont, Bombay Garden has a sizable area for parties.

    1. Amber India in Mountain View or Turmeric in Sunnyvale are both nice, upscale, and have good food.

      1. Agree on Amber India & Turmeric recs; however, I too am curious as to the elimination of Sakoon.

        ETA: there's also Amber Santana Row. Forgot to mention that Turmeric holds their private parties upstairs so you'll be completely separated from rest of restaurant which is a plus.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ceekskat

          Hey ceekskat, I have a question for you regarding something you posted in another thread. Is it possible to send private messages here?

          1. re: General_Tso

            Sorry, we don't have a built in PM system. If it's something food related, please ask the question publicly so everyone can benefit from the answer. If it's not food related, you can leave an email address (use a web-based throw-away email if you don't want to reveal your main address) and ask him to contact you.

            1. re: General_Tso

              If it's related to that topic, I'm happy to answer on that thread.

              1. re: ceekskat

                It's about something different entirely. Several months back you mentioned that you picked up a 4 quart wide Staub on sale at Williams Sonoma. I just wanted to ask your opinions on it, how useful you think it is, etc. Is it big enough for an average sized beef roast?

          2. The Menu - Artisan Food of India is a new upscale Indian place in Mountain View with plenty of room for private parties (www.themenuindia.com). It's in the same space that Southern Spice and Swagat used to have on El Camino west of San Antonio, but it's remodeled and nicer. Passage of India really isn't in the same category food wise as The Menu, Arka, Sakoon, Amber India, Amber Dhara, or Turmeric.


            5 Replies
            1. re: mdg

              How is Passage of India "not in the same category" as Tumeric? They both provide satisfactory Indian buffets with North Indian food with some more interesting dishes thrown in. I haven't sensed some huge gulf in food quality or in specialties between them. In terms of atmosphere, there also doesn't seem to be a big difference.

              1. re: goldangl95

                I am sorry, but PTI and Turmeric are definitely not in the same category. PTI dishes out standard North American Indian buffet fare, while Turmeric serves creative and special regional specialties.
                No comparison at all...

                1. re: bigger_eyes

                  Hm. Perhaps I've been to Turmeric on off days. Besides an occasional interesting fish dish, or interesting veg. dish, I haven't found their selection distinctly more diverse nor the preparations/taste distinctly better - will have to try again.

                  1. re: goldangl95

                    The Chef at Turmeric is truly talented, but the inevitable 'dumbing down' of the food for the generic Sunnyvale Indian crowd does happen, which has disappointed me on occasion.

                    I would suggest a conversation with the chef, and a request for your favorite dishes a day in advance..!!

                    1. re: bigger_eyes

                      There is a particular cauliflower dish I tasted during a private event at the restaurant & at a catered dinner in someone's home & it is one of the best vegetarian dishes, Indian or otherwise, I've ever had. I believe it's dum gobhi (whole baked cauliflower) but don't see it on the online menu (haven't eaten there a la carte).

            2. Hmm . . . well when I read the title, I was planning to suggest Sakoon, but now I'm at a loss!

              2 Replies
              1. re: LabLady

                Turmeric is my favorite Indian place in the Bay Area....only restaurant I've ever been to where the vegetarian items are so good I prefer them over the meat items.

                1. re: Bunson

                  There is a huge amount of wonderful Indian in the Sunnyvale area. If you like Indian vegetarian food, I would recommend trying Chaat Paradise or Madura (note - these places are not "high end indian" for purposes of hosting a party recs).

              2. Thanks, everyone for your input. While Sakoon is definitely a nice place, I prefer someplace with interesting and creative menu items. I liked Arka and have already enquired into their party menu, but am disappointed to know that their party menu is nothing like their standard menu.

                I have to disagree with all those who say Turmeric is a good, and to add, an upscale restaurant. Turmeric has boring, run of the mill dishes, and in no sense of the word, is Turmeric upscale. I like Indian food for the flavor and spices and if a restaurant tries to dumb it down for western taste preferences, there is no point to trying new cuisines.

                I like Amber in Mountain View, have not been to the Santana Row location, will try them soon. I did like their menu, so I will definitely try them out.

                5 Replies
                1. re: sfbunney

                  Turmeric once upon a time was good, creative, and upscale, but I haven't been in quite a while so I'm not up to date. Sorry for the outdated information.

                  If you want more creative dishes, Amber Dhara in Palo Alto and All Spice in San Mateo may be the best bets, but I don't know what their party capabilities are. All Spice probably wouldn't work so well since it's a converted house with lots of smaller rooms. Amber in Santana Row may work too but that's another place I haven't been to in a while. Amber Dhara isn't so much creative as offering different, delicious regional dishes that I've never seen in the Bay Area before.

                  Another possibility would be Madhuban in Sunnyvale - that's the larger location, not the smaller one in San Jose. It too has a nice atmosphere and some more creative dishes.

                  Enjoy - there are lots of good choices out there!


                  1. re: sfbunney

                    I was hesitant to reply with some of the more upscale, fusion places because you didn't want anything "extravagant". We recently dined at Mantra in Palo Alto and enjoyed most everything. Saag paneer, great naan, lamb seekh kabob (love presentation on cinnamon stick) and wonderful quinoa kofta curry. Felt chicken tikka masala tasted more like regular curry than tandoori flavored (didn't have familiar sweet/creamy taste). Dining companions liked it though. Tandoori sea bass seemed a little too fishy for our taste. Service was great.

                    All Spice in San Mateo - haven't been; DH went for business dinner & loved it.

                    Amber Dhara - haven't been to this new outpost of Amber restaurant empire in former Junnoon location in Palo Alto.

                    1. re: ceekskat

                      Mantra, I love it, I hate it. Their menu has simplified unfortunately in the last few years, and they've never had the brightest and boldest spice mixtures. The private room at Junoon would be my top mark for this, but I haven't (either) tried the Amber Dhara incarnation.

                      I've only had a little bit at Arka, and while I love the decor and the belgian beer selection, I don't love the food. The SJ Metro review a few weeks back says what needs saying.

                      Frankly, I don't think there is an indian restaurant that's upscale with great food in the south bay.

                      1. re: bbulkow

                        No one will be loving or hating mantra anymore.

                        They closed.

                    2. re: sfbunney

                      I agree that Turmeric is no longer upscale, but you should definitely talk to the chef if you want the best dishes for your event. Your passion is an essential ingredient to motivate a jaded chef's creativity..

                    3. Thanks again, everyone. I have added Amber Dhara and Mantra to my list. I will send out enquiries soon. It's okay to be extravagant, I guess.... I sadly have to agree with bbulkow - I don't think there are any great, upscale restaurants in South Bay.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: sfbunney

                        I went to Amber Dhara, the food was not as bright and interesting as when it was Junoon, but still good. I honestly don't know where I'd steer you at this point, I especially with kids involved.