San Leandro Bites: Indian Grill

Our closest Indian restaurant is usually a good bet.

For many years, really the first decade and a half of our life here, San Leandro was an Indian food desert. We had the best Indian grocery store ever – Santos Spice Market -, and yet somehow we didn’t have even a single Indian restaurant. That started changing when Bella Italia (now closed) started serving Indian food, in addition to Italian fare, but their heart really wasn’t in it and it wasn’t that great. Fortunately, in the last decade several actual Indian restaurants have opened both in San Leandro and nearby localities, and most of them have been quite good.

I’m really surprised I haven’t reviewed Indian Grill before, as we’ve been satisfied costumers ever since it opened at the old Ploughman’s space back in 2019. The food, if at the time slightly more expensive than its competitors, was consistently among the best Indian-American food I’ve experienced. We visited the restaurant itself a couple of times before the pandemic, and I’ve been there a couple times since – it’s done a good job of looking classy in a coffeeshop space -, but mostly we get take out from there.

Last week, it was just Mike and I so we only got a couple of dishes, and the results were unfortunately mixed.

I had the Lamb Korma ($19), and it was as delicious as ever. Their korma is not particularly sweet or nutty, but it has a fairly deep, complex flavor – albeit milder than the tikka masala sauce -, that I enjoy. The lamb was tender and not particularly fatty. I enjoyed it very much.

Mike, meanwhile, ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala in butter chicken sauce ($17) and this was a dud.

Chicken tikka masala, at least in local restaurants, refers to usually boneless chicken, cut in large bite-size pieces, that is seasoned with tikka spices and grilled or cooked in a tandoori oven. It’s then immersed in a curry/masala sauce, invented in England, that is reminiscent of the curry from butter chicken. The chicken in butter chicken, on the other hand, is usually shredded or cut into small pieces and is cooked in the sauce. This is meant to be a combination of both dishes: grilled chicken tikka served in a butter chicken sauce.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t very good. I don’t know if the sauce was off that day, or the recipe doesn’t quite work, but the sauce had an off flavor, while lacking depth. The rich tongue feel was there, but not the flavor. We both agreed we didn’t like it. Indian Grill has one of the best tikka masala sauces out there – with a very intense, bright flavor – so we’ll continue ordering that in the future.

Rice is not included in the meals, and it’s an extra $5, which seems excessive. Still, when eaten with rice, there is enough food on each other fort two meals. I usually prefer to eat it with naan ($3 each), which are good, but not remarkable.

Food is usually ready on time and is still hot by the time it arrives – and my husband usually walks to get it.

Indian Grill
1600 Washington Ave
San Leandro, CA

W 10:00 am - 9:30 pm

Th-Tu 10:00 am - 3:00 pm, 4:30 pm - 9:30 pm

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