Aslam's Rasoi


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Summary: Fresh tasting Indian food in funky surroundings, wonderful naan, less than stellar main dishes.

It took me two years to make it across the bay to see "Not a Genuine Black Man," a show by local celebrity Brian Copeland about growing up black in all-white San Leandro. Mike had seen it before, and I had always meant to, but getting a babysitter for all the hours needed for a theater visit in San Francisco is not an easy matter. Still, the show was about to close (and go off-Broadway!) so it was now or never.

After the show - which we enjoyed very much - we wanted to get something to eat and Aslam's Rasoi had the advantage of being located very close to the Marsh. The place looked nice, the menu looked good (albeit on the expensive side) and we're always (or almost always) in the mood for Indian - so in we went. In all, we had a positive experience.

Aslam's Rasoi menu includes typical North Indian dishes that you'd find at any restaurant around, plus a few dishes that fuse American and Indian ingredients. They take pride in the freshness of their produce and the high quality of the ingredients was apparent. We started by sharing a goat cheese naan ($5), an Aslam's Rasoi invention, as far as I can tell, and one that worked remarkably well. The naan was soft without being two bready, had a wonderful yet subtle smokey taste and was served hot with a mound of goat cheese in the middle, in addition to its own stuffing. The combination of the bread and goat cheese was delicious, and we both would have liked some more. I had a sweet lassi ($3) and had to keep Mike, who usually hates anything with yoghurt, away from it. The drink was thick and creamy, sweet but not overly so, and with just a hint of tartness. I very much enjoyed it.

Alas, the main dishes did not match the expectations generated by the lassi and naan. We shared a lamb korma ($14) and the chicken madras ($12). We found the korma to be pleasant but extremely mild; it allowed the flavor of the lamb to star, but didn't add much to it. In all, we would not order it again. The madras curry was better, but again not outstanding. It tasted like a fresher version of the jarred "curry" you can buy at Trader Joe's. It was tart, and pretty well-balanced but not in the least "spicy" as the menu suggested. The chicken was nice, served in large chunks, fresh and with little fat. We particularly liked the golden raisins, as they provided a nice sweet contrast to the tartness of the curry.

The restaurant itself is quite nice. The walls are painted with bright colors and cartoonish Indianish figures. The whole look is slightly upscale but welcoming and "fun." The restaurant seems child-friendly; there were several tables with kids, but there weren't changing tables in the bathroom - though they definitely had the space.

Service, by Latino waiters, was very good. They were obviously busy but they attended to us courteously though the restaurant is so loud that it was difficult to hear what they were saying and vice-versa (the noise level wasn't as much as a factor when communicating across the table). There was one gaff when our waiter forgot to bring us the plain naan we'd ordered in the middle of the dinner, but he apologized profusely and brought it when we enquired about it. Our busboy was Eustaquio "Taco." He was extremely efficient, always there when a plate had to be removed or a water glass filled, friendly, unobtrusive and helpful: the perfect bus boy. Ritzier restaurants would be lucky to snatch him up.

In all, we had a pleasant dinner and might return for that incredibly goat cheese naan.

Aslam's Rasoi
1037 Valencia St.
San Francisco, Ca
M-F 5 PM - 10:30 PM
Sa-Su 5 PM - 11 PM