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Apr 28, 2012 11:11 PM

Breads of India- why is this place so empty? [Oakland]

So after trudging out late and reservation-less on a Saturday evening in the East Bay, we went to Chop Bar, took one look at the mobs, and turned back around. But where to go last-minute in downtown that is high quality but won't have a wait and where we can hear ourselves think?

Breads of India in Old Oakland. Done.

As usual, the place was mostly empty- seriously, I think there were 3 tables seated out of 20.

And yet, also as usual over the past several years we've been going to this location, everything was great.

After having more run-of-the-mill protein-in-sauce dishes on previous trips, I finally decided to try the "Coorgi-style" pork roast that I've been eying. And it was moist inside, really nice char outside, and made me happy. My partner got a vegetable dish, and the textures were just right and the flavor was great.

Lots of dishes that you don't see in almost any other Indian restaurants, regional specialties from all over the subcontinent (well, per the menu anyway, but definitely not stuff I see elsewhere), including multiple seafood/fish options. Nice atmosphere- maybe a little cavernous. Prices that are comparable to self-service: $12 for the pork roast and $8(!) for vegetarian items. And a lot of food for that price- two pork chops, dal, rice, and salad.

Which makes me wonder- why is this place so empty on weekend evenings?

I know Indian isn't exactly trendy, but I would much rather eat at BOI than, say, Burma Superstar. It can't be the location alone- we just ate at Cosecha, which is overflowing despite being a so-so value, IMHO. Are they just terrible at promotion? Is the dining room haunted?

I will concede that the service, while friendly, was a bit confused. They brought one dish that was wrong and another I'm not sure if it was right- odd, given that there were so few people there. I've never had this problem there before, though, and I think this was maybe an issue with our particular server rather than an across-the-board problem.

How do they stay in business? Big lunch traffic (I've been once or twice at lunch- busy, but not crazy)? Lots of takeout from people in the neighborhood?

Normally, I would just be grateful and leave it at that. But I worry that they can't actually stay in business at this rate.

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  1. looked at bread's pricing and it seems out of line. a simple comparison probably left most prospective diners feeling the same way. more bang for the buck elsewhere.

    consecha's "so-so value" may seem so compared to taco bell. if you compare consecha to tamarindo antojera, a few blocks away, it's a bargain. people are saving on the tip also.....

    1 Reply
    1. re: shanghaikid

      "Taco Bell"? Haven't been since high school. I'm comparing to Mexican restaurants I've visited from white tablecloth establishments in Oaxaca to trucks in Fruitvale abd antojerias in LA . Food is good quality but flavors are pretty toned down and not especially memorable, portions are small, and the price difference compared to full service is minimal. I think the whole counter service thing makes people feel like they're being frugal when they're saving maybe 5 bucks. Xolo does this concept better, for my money.

    2. I had some good dishes at the original in Berkeley when they were new, but it wasn't as good as Vik's, prices were kind of high, and I could never understand why people lined up.

      1. "how do they stay in business?"
        -on several occassions, saw a mobile food truck parked on clay st. alongside the restaurant. not sure if it's a coincidence or the food is being prepped at breads. the name of the truck was easily recognizable but i can't remember it now.

        2 Replies
        1. The 2 times I have been once a few years ago in Berkeley and once a year or so ago in Oakland ( on a friends insistence) I found the food to be less than mediocre at best.
          I think that the local understanding and standards of Indian food has been getting more sophisticated in the last few years.
          So I think they are empty because they are not very good.
          If they served a great product the quantity and price lose some of their import and people that are looking quality, taste and authenticity would go.

          1 Reply
          1. My experience at BOI is the fresh naan is excellent but the dishes were not. I had the Coorgi pork in the Oakland location and was looking forward to it but it was dry, tough and a bit bland. I think it was over-marinated. The other stuff seemed okay but not great, esp at the prices. They probably do get more business during lunch given the area.

            Agree that the level of sophistication for Indian food has risen especially in the South Bay, Fremont and PA/MV.