Tag Archives: Indian

San Leandro Bites: Shef

The tastiest ready-to-heat meal service I’ve found so far.

If you are on Facebook, chances are that you’ve seen ads for Shef*. It’s a ready-to-heat meal delivery system, where the catch that the meals are individually made by home cooks in their own homes, rather than in large industrial facilities. That can have both pros and cons, but it’s quickly become my favorite of the ready-to-heat meal services (I’ve also tried CookUnity, Thistle and Freshly) .

Shef works similarly than other meal kit services, though it has a much clunkier website. In order to use it, you need to enter your zip code and then create an account. You will choose your delivery date and how many meals you want to get, as well as how many servings each meal should be. You will then get a list of chefs – including a small photo, first name and surname initial – and a list of the dishes they offer. You then select which dishes you want to get. You are then prompted for side dishes and finally for your credit card information. You will get e-mails and texts the day your order will be delivered mentioning the time period (something like 3 hours) where the meals will arrive. So far, all of mine have arrived within the promised time.

Shefs are local to you, and what they offer will thus depend on where you live. I’ll be reviewing the dishes served by my local shefs, but obviously they will be different for you if you don’t live in San Leandro or nearby. Shef has made a particular effort to recruit immigrant cooks – and originally, immigrant women cooks, thus the name -, and they have been particularly successful with Indian and other Asian cooks. If you love Indian and/or Asian cuisine, Shef is definitely the service for you. If you don’t, this is your opportunity to learn to love it. There are a few other cuisines represented, though not many (so far, at least).

One of the things I love about Shef is that the food is delivered in reusable cold bags with frozen water bottles instead of freezer packs. As far as I can tell, the bottles are sealed so you can drink them. But it also means no waste. Dishes do come in plastic containers (the same type used for take out food), though one of my shefs uses compostable containers (but plastic lids). Of all the services I’ve used, I’d say this is the greenest one.

The HUGE disadvantage of Shef, is just how clunky their website is, and how difficult to use. As I mentioned, you have to sign up to even be able to see the menu. Once you choose a plan, there is no way to change it. You basically have to cancel it, and then re-subscribe. This is true even if one week you want to order side dishes, and the next week you don’t. If you order then once, you are stuck ordering them again unless you cancel and resubscribe. Fortunately, subscribing and unsubscribing is easy.

Another disadvantage of Shef is that because the dishes are cooked in a home kitchen and cooled in a home refrigerator, they really need to be seen as leftovers – so you should eat them within a couple of days of getting them. I have frozen two in their containers so far, and they defrosted in the fridge quite well, and were pretty good when heated.

There is no way to review individual dishes – you are prompted to review your whole order, and then the scores apply to each dish in that order! That makes absolute no sense – just don’t rely on the scores as they mean nothing.

I haven’t had to contact customer service yet, but I’ve read it’s pretty clunky as well. I will report more when I try it.

So far, I’ve gotten the following dishes. The checkmarks are to remind me which to order again (blue ones to get for Mike)

AMERICAN

Shef Stacy L.’s Crispy Southern Fried Chicken

Shef screwed up for me this week and sent me two dishes I didn’t order instead of two I did. One of these was what I presume is Shef Stacy L.’s Crispy Southern Fried Chicken. It came with mashed potatoes and corn.

The dish didn’t work for me. I found the chicken was nice and crispy but the piece of chicken I ate had a disconcerting sour taste. I’m not sure if it’d gone bad (I didn’t have intestinal problems later, so I’m going to guess it didn’t), or if it’s something in the ingredients. In any case, I wouldn’t want to eat it again. My husband had the other piece and didn’t find it sour.

I was hoping that the mashed potatoes would be the saving grace, but they were impossibly salty. My husband agreed. The corn was just corn. I would definitely not order this again, as you can get better fried chicken at the supermarket for less.

Shef Stacy L.’s Fried Bbq Chicken Plate

This dish I actually ordered. I was intrigued by the idea of both frying and bbq’ing chicken. As it turned out, the extra step of frying was unnecessary. The chicken was moist, so there is that, and it had a nice flavor – but nothing to write home about. It was just a little bit spicy. It came with overly salted mash potatoes and corn. I don’t think we’d order it again.


BURMESE

Shef Thazin H.’s Burmese Style Lamb Curry With Potatoes

This was a fairly generic meat and potatoes stew. I wouldn’t call it a “curry” per se, in the sense of the spices and flavor profile that the word “curry” usually alludes to. However, according to my notes from when I cooked this dish myself years ago, this is precisely what it’s supposed to taste like: homey. As someone who likes meat and potato stews, I was pretty happy with it. The portion was generous.

Shef Theint E. Basil’s Lemongrass Chicken

This dish was OK. I enjoyed eating it, though I don’t see myself craving it. I think it might be better at a different time of year when basil is brighter/fresher – as it had a slightly bitter taste. It could have used a tad more sweetness, but the spiciness level was good, medium-mild, I’d say. It was an adequate portion. I might order this again.

CHINESE

Shef Mak M.’s Taiwanese Braised Pork Rice Bowl

This was really a very simple dish, just ground (or maybe chopped) pork on a bed of white rice, but boy, was it delicious. The pork had been braised in a delicious sauce (though none of it was in the dish), and it had a very intense, well balanced flavor. I couldn’t really distinguish any of the flavors (soy? five spice?), but it was just good. The flavor was intense enough that it married very well with the plain rice. I’d order this again.

Shef Victor S.’s Chinese Cured Pork Belly And Sausage With Jasmine Rice

This dish was OK. Half of the tray was cabbage, which is not my thing. The sausage and pork belly were fine, not exciting, and there was something crunchy, brown and weird that neither I nor the dog liked. I wouldn’t order it again.

ETHIOPIAN/ERITREAN

Shef Frehiwot K.’s Meat Combo ✔✔

This plate of food was absolutely delicious. It didn’t taste that much like the Ethiopian food I’ve had at restaurants or cooked myself, perhaps because I asked for “mild” (and yes, everything was mild) – but it was very, very good and addictive. So much so that I had it again the next week.

Shef Frehiwot K.’s Beef Stew (kay Sega Wot) ✔✔

After getting the combo twice, I decided to go for the kay sega wot by itself. It was delicious, but spicier than the meat combo. I actually think I prefer it mixed in with the chicken. This one did remind me far more to the Ethiopian food you get at restaurants. Still, it was sooo good.


EUROPEAN

Shef Izabela P.’s Beef Stew (Polish Goulash)

This beef stew tasted exactly what you expect beef stew to taste. It was meaty and rich and very homey. The meat was a little chalky, but I have the same results when I make stew, so I’m not going to blame the cook for this. The portion was fine, though it could have used a couple more pieces of meat. There was a lot of sauce, so get some rice to soak it up. I’d order this again.

Shef D C.’s Pollo Al Ajillo – Spanish Garlic Chicken ✔✔

This was a delicious, homey dish. It consisted of three drumsticks, deliciously garlicy, in what I think was a sauce that was thickened with flour, giving it a smooth texture. Not that there is much of a sauce, but whatever remains from it. I ordered it again and enjoyed it just as much.

Shef D C.’s Beef Osso Buco

Another winner from Shef D C. The osso buco meat was extremely tender and the dish was very flavorful. It was, perhaps, too intense, but I had frozen it previously and was heating it up from a semi-frozen stage and overheated it a bit. The sauce really needs a starch to absorb it, so plan on eating this with something.

Shef D C.’s Irish Guinness Beef Stew

This was a good, basic beef stew. Not as good as a tomato based stew, but that’s not the chef’s fault. The meat was tender but a little chalky (typical for beef stews). I’d order it again.

INDIAN

Shef Geetwani R.’s Butter Chicken

Our second attempt at butter chicken was more successful than the first. This was a spicy dish, what one would normally call “medium” at a restaurant. Mike ate it and liked it, though he didn’t think it was restaurant quality but he’d have it again.

Shef Sukhdeep K.’s Butter Chicken ✔

Our third Shef butter chicken is, so far, the winner. While the sauce was on the thin side and the dish could have used a little more chicken, it was very tasty – almost restaurant quality. It was mildly spiced. You definitely need rice to eat this with. Most importantly, my daughter liked it and would want it again.

Shef Vanita Yadav M.’s Andhra Chicken Curry (Kodi Kura)

I gave this curry the old college try, but after a few bites, I just had to abandon it. It was way, way too spicy for me. In a restaurant, it would probably be described as somewhere between medium and hot. This is a pity, because the curry was very good. The chicken was so moist and tender that I actually thought it was lamb, and there were lots of it. I tend to prefer sweeter curries, this definitely was not that, but the flavor was complex and developed. It did not taste of curry powder, garam masala or anything of the sort. In all, a very successful dish even if I couldn’t eat it.

Shef Amit R.’s Pahadi Chicken Curry

This was a nice curry. I tasted like your regular Indian curry – made from spices, not curry powder. It didn’t have any sweet notes, so given a choice, I’d go for a korma or a tikka masala (or a pasanda!). But as far as regular curries goes, this is a good as you can get in a restaurant. It was very mildly spiced.

Shef Balihar S.’s Tari Wala Chicken

I haven’t had this Punjabi chicken curry before, so I can’t make any comparisons, but it tastes like a pretty generic Indian curry. It’s clearly made with whole spices, rather than garam masala or another such mix, and I appreciated the balance and fresh flavor of the sauce. I’m less fond of the bone-in chicken. It was on the lower side of medium spicy, which meant that it had some heat but I could deal with it. Still, I wouldn’t order it again, simply because I prefer sweeter, creamier curries. But this one is perfectly well made.

Shef Shilpa P.’s Kolhapuri Sukka Chicken

This was a very garam masala forward dish, slightly spicy – in the way garam masala is – but not particularly complex. The chicken was tender but also very bony, so a pain to eat. I’ve made Kolhapuri lamb before, and this dish reminded me of that. Mike liked it, though he wished the chicken was boneless. I’m not huge on garam masala, so I wouldn’t order it again. Mike probably wouldn’t either.

Shef Wayne F.’s Butter Chicken

This plate came in a 16 oz container, which is the container size you get at most local Indian restaurants when you order take out. The dish, however, contained relatively little chicken – it was mostly sauce. The chicken came in large chunks, but was tender enough that it came apart when cut with the fork. Unfortunately, the chicken itself lacked seasoning.

The sauce was just OK – somewhat better than jarred butter chicken sauce or the ones that come in frozen entrees, but not nearly as good as the best butter chicken sauces from our favorite Indian restaurants. It had some disconcerting bitter notes, that I couldn’t quite place, and it was a bit too acidic. It was only slightly spicy, which was to my taste. I wouldn’t order it again, but I didn’t mind eating it.

While I’d say there is only enough chicken for one meal, there is enough sauce for another half-meal if you eat it with rice or naan bread. For the price, I think I’d order it at a restaurant instead.

KOREAN

Shef Aejung S.’ Bulgogi Korean Ribeye Beef With Rice

I was very disappointed on this dish. I love bulgogi. I make bulgogi frequently (at least, when I’m cooking). It’s a pain to cut the meat (though you can buy shaved beef, and this is clearly what Shef Aejung has done), but it’s otherwise not too laborious to make. You let it marinade and can pan fry it as you go – or just cook it all at once, and then reheat it. But the secret, the basis of bulgogi is the marinade – and this marinade just wasn’t there. The beef barely had any flavor. It also had barely any veggies – some shredded carrots but maybe a couple of onion strips. Not that more would have improved things, as either the marinade he used was flavorless or, more likely, they were not marinated for very long. The portion had a fair amount of meat and it came with white rice, but without any sauce, there was little point to it. I wouldn’t order it again and neither should you – just your make your own bulgogi.

LATIN AMERICAN

Shef Joina L.’s Arroz Con Pollo

This was a solid, tasty dish. The Spanish rice could have used a little more seasoning, but I liked the notes of tomato and sausage. The chicken was tasty. The portion was on the small side, so this should be seen as a lunch dish for smaller appetites.

Shef Joina L.’s Roasted Chicken With Cilantro Garlic Crema

This was another very tasty dish. The chicken was moist and nicely seasoned, and the accompanying crema was absolutely delicious. Alas, the portion was also skimpy and not enough to fill you up for dinner. They really need to add an extra chicken piece.

Shef Ruben & Nucha G.’s Mushroom & Gorgonzola Empanadas

As an Argentinian who loves to make empanadas myself, I’m particularly picky about empanadas, so you shouldn’t be surprised about how critical I am of these ones. The main problem was how small the portion was. You only get 2 empanadas, which is fine as a snack, but not enough for lunch, much less dinner. As a child, I used to get 3 empanadas for lunch – you need at least 3 or 4 for an adult, particularly when they have a light filling such as mushrooms and gorgonzola. The filling was actually pretty good, not great, but good enough. The shells, however, needed more salt. They came with a little tub of chimichurri, which was good by itself, but didn’t compliment the flavor of the empanadas. I wouldn’t get them again.

Shef Ruben & Nucha G.’s Traditional Beef Empanadas

I had the same issue with these empanadas than the ones above. Two empanadas are just not enough and the shells are not that great. I did like the knife-cut beef, which was nicely flavored. It had that briny undertone of olives and a note of sweetness – though I didn’t see any raisins. I also loved that it didn’t have any hardboiled egg. But I wouldn’t order them again, mostly because they are a poor value.

MEDITERRANEAN / MIDDLE EASTERN

Shef Quynh Sophie E.’s Kafta Potato Stew

This was a very homey dish, just kofta and large chunks of potatoes in a thin tomato based sauce. It was good and very satisfying. Not something you’d have at a restaurant, but that’s the point of Shef – homefood. I’d get it again.


VIETNAMESE

Shef Victoria S.’s Caramelized Spare Ribs

This dish came in several containers, and I didn’t realize that I was supposed to put them together into one until after I had eaten the actual spare ribs and looked at the picture of the dish online. Basically, it comes with a tub of spare ribs, one of sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, another with two hard boiled eggs and a final one of rice (white, not seasoned as in the website photo), and you are supposed to put it together into a plate. Together, they form a substantial plate of food – the ribs alone might be too little for a meal, though they are so rich, that I wouldn’t have been able to eat any more of them.

The ribs were very tender and tasty, but only slightly sweet and they had a tad too much fish sauce. Each bite is mostly bones or tendons which makes it a bit difficult to eat. But the flavor was there. Mike, in particular, really liked them and would want to order them again.

Shef Phuoc V.’s Garlic Honey Glazed Grilled Chicken And Garlic Rice

This was a pretty basic dish, but very homey and tasty. The flavors were not gourmet, but they were pleasant, and garlic rice is addictive. I’d have it again.

WEST AFRICAN

Shef Sarjo B.’s Peanut Butter Stew (Domoda)

Mike liked it. He thought the sauce was very peanut buttery and the meat was tender and moist. He’d have it again. I just tasted the sauce and I felt the one I’d made was better, this one was missing some umami flavor.

I also got the naan and the chapati side dishes. The naan wasn’t very good – it tasted like not-very-fresh white bread. Frozen naan is preferable. The chapati was fine. Chapati is not my favorite kind of flat bread, but at least this one tasted like what you get from restaurants.

Shef Sarjo B.’s Yassa Bone-in Chicken

This dish was absolutely delicious. Yassa is one of my favorite dishes, and I have made it many, many times since I first started cooking over three decades ago – but this one was far better than any of mine. I don’t know what the secret is, though I did think I distinguished some mustard notes, and when I make it again I’ll see about adding some mustard. In any case, I really enjoyed it. There were a few problems, however.

First, as you can see from the photo, the chicken wasn’t cooked through. While chickens today are safer than in the past, there is always the risk of salmonella, and home cooks, as well as professional ones, should make sure the chicken is fully cooked. Second, the portion only came with one chicken drumstick – that was definitely not enough protein for a meal, even a lunch. The cook should add a second drumstick or a thigh. Third, the dish was too spicy for my taste. At an Indian, Thai or BBQ restaurant, this dish would be characterized as “medium spicy” and it’s just at the edge of what I can stand. To eat the onions – and boy, were the onions delicious – I had to add some rice. So when I order it again (and I will, despite these caveats), I’ll have to make sure I either order a side of rice or that one of the other meals comes with some.

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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
(510)-878-2704

W 10:00 am - 9:30 pm

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



Flavor of India – San Lorenzo – Restaurant Review

Delicious!

I have been getting delivery and take out from Flavor of India in San Lorenzo for quite a few years. I discovered them in GrubHub, and it was a the time one of the closest Indian restaurants that delivered in my area. It wasn’t the best restaurant, but it was good enough.

Since then a couple of Indian restaurants opened in San Leandro and we’ve switched to getting take out rather than delivery, so it’d been a couple of years since we last had their food. A couple of nights ago we decided to try it again and I’m so glad we did. The food was absolutely delicious. Apparently, they are under new ownership and the new chef really knows how to cater to American tastes.

Fish pakora with sauces

We started with fish pakora ($7). The portion was a good size as a shared appetizer, the fish was flaky and had a very flavorful coating and the accompanying cilantro and sweet/sour sauces were particularly tasty and not too pungent. I enjoyed it very much.

Lamb Korma

I had my usual lamb korma ($14) and this time the sauce had a much more intense, bright flavor than I remember it having. It was the best korma I’ve had for years. The lamb itself was very tender.

We also ordered butter chicken($13) and chicken tikka masala ($14). I didn’t taste the chicken in the former, but the sauces are very similar if not identical. The chicken in the tikka masala was in large cubes and was surprisingly moist – I tend to prefer butter chicken because chicken tikka is often dry. The sauces were, once again, out of this world delicious.

Naan bread ($2) was standard as was the rice. The curries come with rice, so you don’t need to order separately.

It was easy to order on their website (currently through the lokobee app), and the food was ready quickly and hassle free. The prices are lower than at other local Indian restaurants and the portions seem to be about the same size.

Flavor of India now offers outdoor dining in a patio. I haven’t seen it, but it looks very nice in pictures, though set in a parking lot. Still, this seems like a good option for eating out, and I might try it.

Flavor of India
15930 Hesperian Blvd
San Lorenzo, CA
(510) 276-5000


Santos Spices Now Delivers!

I found out today that Santos Spices Market now has delivery and pick up. Santos is an amazing store, with a huge variety of Indian spices as well as legumes, flours, sauces and frozen products. Moreover, they seem to have fixed up the store in the last year and it feels less crowded than before. I definitely like going there in person, though I avoided shopping during the pandemic.

Still, my major problem with Santos is that they have so much stuff that it’s sometimes difficult to find what I want. For example, today I went looking for Kashmiri pepper and I couldn’t find it. It was there, but where? Yes, employees are very helpful and you can ask them, but I hate bothering people. Ordering online will make this much, much easier. Plus I won’t have to remember (or write down) the alternative names for the products I want, as I can just look them up as I go.

I still haven’t used this feature but I will soon!

Sky Valley Tikka Masala Sauce Review

My local Grocery Outlet store is currently currying a variety of Sky Valley bottled sauces. I picked up the Tikka Masala sauce because it’s vegan, and I’m always looking for stuff that my vegan daughter can eat. Unfortunately this was a bust.

The sauce itself wasn’t bad. While I wouldn’t say it tastes like the tikka masala you can get at Indian restaurants, it’s better than anything I could make myself. Indeed, it tastes very much like Trader Joe’s masala sauce. They are both far more acidic and less sweet than your restaurant tikka masala sauce.

The big problem for my vegan daughter was that the sauce was too spicy. She ate it with lots of rice, but still couldn’t get past the spice. Now, she doesn’t like spicy food, so in terms of level of spice I’d say this sauce is “medium” spicy.

The 13.8 oz bottle of Sky Valley tikka masala sauce sells on their website for $5.30, but it was just $2 at Grocery Outlet and it was on sale for just $1.75 at Walmart (regular price $3.65). It’s produced in Danville (so not to far away from where I live) and exported all the way to the UAE!

Review: India Oven / Indian Masala, Las Vegas, NV

We stopped by India Oven / Indian Masala for lunch on a Thursday night in late July, 2017 and enjoyed their lunch buffet.  It was pretty generic as far as Indian lunch buffets go, which is not a bad thing.

The restaurant is a fusion of two different Indian restaurants, Indian Oven and Indian Masala, and it does not seem to have decided upon a name so it’s using both.  Hey, it’s Vegas, why not?  It sits in a small strip mall but the inside is rather nice, it could even pass for elegant if it didn’t have a buffet.

The buffet included a small salad bar, made-to-order naan (choice between plain, butter or garlic), had a couple of appetizers (vegetable pakoras and samosas), soup/daal (if I remember correctly), rice and vegetable rice and four each vegetarian and meat entrees.  It most certainly did not have all the dishes they claim to offer in their website, not even close.   I tried the four meat dishes and was fairly pleased.  The chicken tikka masala had a very nice flavor, slightly spicy, but deep.  I enjoyed it.  The goat and chicken curry both seemed to have the same sauce, it was good but not a favorite.  The chicken tandoori was juicy and very flavorful.  My daughter was less happy with the paneer dish she had, but it wasn’t one she usually eats (there was no paneer tikka masala).

The buffet also includes drinks, and my daughters liked the lemonade and the mango lassi, which was more like a thin mango drink than a lassi.

Service was fairly good, though they initially tried to charge my husband for a buffet even though he had clearly not eaten anything (he was sick).  Dinner for the four of us (I was there with three tweens), came up to a little over $50 after tax.

Given the plethora of Indian restaurants in Vegas, I’d probably try a different one next time, but this is certainly good enough to visit again.

India Oven Restaurant
India Masala & Bar Grill

1040 E Flamingo Rd
Las Vegas, NV
http://www.indiamasalalasvegas.com
Open 11.30am to 3pm –  5pm to 10pm

Cuisine of India (Delhi Palace) – Sedona, AZ – Restaurant Review

We were in Sedona on vacation, staying at a house near Cuisine of India aka Indian Palace, India Palace and Delhi Palace.   I don’t know what the actual name of the restaurant is, I’ve found reviews under all names.  We wen there for lunch a rainy day in August, 2013.

According to my daughter, this was the smallest buffet at which she’s ever eaten.  That’s not necessarily true for me, but with ten or so offerings, including rice, it would definitely not win any prizes for size.  Then again, it also doesn’t seem to be very popular, at least for lunch, so few offerings hopefully mean the food is fresher.

As far as Indian food goes, this buffet was pretty average.  I liked the mushroom korma, but the chicken tikka masala was underseasoned (even though it was a bit spicy).  The same can be said for the chicken tandoori, it didn’t taste as if they’d use any spices on it other than pepper.  The lamb curry was OK, though the lamb was a bit dry and tough.  The rice was a bit too starchy for my taste, but the garlic/herb naan bread, served pipping hot, was quite good.  Sweet lassis also lacked flavor.

My biggest problem with the meal was the price.  We ended up paying $42 before the tip for 3 people.  That’s pretty ridiculous for a buffet lunch.  Now, my husband didn’t look at the bill carefully so perhaps they charged us for our other daughter who didn’t eat any of the food (which they knew, as she instead had a subway sandwich at the table).  According to the website, the lunch buffets are now $10

As far as the restaurant itself, it was your run-of-the-mill shopping center restaurant, it didn’t have any ambiance to speak of.

Cuisine of India/ Delhi Palace
1910 W Hwy 89A, Suite 102
Sedona, Arizona
928-204-2300
www.cuisineofindia-az.com

Marga’s Restaurant Reviews: Beyond the Bay Area

CreAsian – Taste of the Himalayas Restaurant Review – San Leandro

I haven’t been to dinner to the new Taste of the Himalayas restaurant, which replaces CreAsian, but I did go to its Grand Opening which included a limited free buffet.  From it, I can say that I’m glad to welcome them to San Leandro.

Taste of the Himalayas is a popular Nepali restaurant in Berkeley.  They’ve taken over the old CreAsian space, a much welcome change as far as I’m concerned.  While I liked CreAsian, it was too expensive and the menu never changed.  Alas, they seem to be wary of their new venture in San Leandro, so they are keeping some old CreAsian dishes in the menu and they are mostly concentrating in serving Indian rather than Nepali food.  I imagine that will change as they get more comfortable in San Leandro.

At the Grand Opening they had three meat curries to taste, their chicken curry (normally $14), lamb curry ($14) and the chicken nauni (not yet in the online menu).  The regular curries were OK, the flavors were good and solid, but not compelling.  However the meats themselves were spectacular, the chicken was velvety and the lamb was beyond moist and tender, without being fatty.  These taste like high quality meats.  The chicken nauni, on the other hand, was very, very good (though actually, the sauces mixed together tasted even better).  It was similar to a tikka masala, only the chicken wasn’t smokey (and was moist) and the sauce was less sweet.  Still, it was very balanced.  Taste of the Himalayas does offer a chicken tikka masala ($15), and I look forward to tasting it.

Both the plain ($3) and garlic ($4) nan were nice, though the fact that they were hot and not burned helped.

I didn’t try the vegetarian offerings, so I can’t opine, but I heard the vegetable pakora (also not in the menu) was also very good.

According to their website, they deliver with a $25 minimum order.

CreAsian – Taste of the Himalayas
1269 MacArthur Blvd.
San Leandro, CA
(510) 895-8028
http://www.creasianhimalayas.com/
M-Su 11:30am to 3:00pm, 5:00pm to 10:00pm

New International Menus Up

I’ve cooked quite a few international dishes in the last few months, but I haven’t actually updated this blog about the cuisines I’ve “finished”.  I actually have a few more to write up, but if I wait until I’m done with those, I’ll forget all about it.

So, the new cuisines I’ve done are those of:

Ancient Persia – a nice khoresh and chilau made a great weekday meal.

Dominica – included one of the best chicken dishes I’ve ever eaten

Dominican Republic – wasn’t too successful with this one 🙁

Holland – you have to try the pancakes!

Dum Pukht – this is not a place but a style of cuisine that emerged during the Mogul empire in India.

Dalmatia and Denmark are also finished, but I have to write them up.  Hopefully I’ll get to it later today.

Indian Oven Restaurant – Chatsworth – Review

Indian Oven opened up in the space that Raaga used to occupy.  They still have the same phone number, but the space has been modified (part of the dining room is gone) and I think they are under new ownership.  I went to the restaurant for dinner there last week with my sister Kathy, who was having a hankering for Indian food, and left mostly satisfied.

Looks wise, Indian Oven doesn’t have much to recommend it for. It’s your typical Indian restaurant, without much in the way of ambiance, but nice enough. You go here for the food, not anything else.  The service was quite good, however, and the waiters very young and very affable.

Kathy and I were planning on taking food back home for Mike and Mika, who were at the pool, so we ordered tons of things.  We started with the chicken pakora ($4), which was disappointing.  The very small chicken pieces has been overly battered and were quite flavorless.  To add insult to injury, they were very tough and dry.  I got the impression they had been cooked earlier in old, almost stale oil, and then reheated.  I would definitely not order this dish again.

Indeed, you may want to avoid all chicken dishes at Indian Oven.  Our chicken tikka masala ($10) was equally disappointing.  The chicken once again was very, very dry.  While I suspect that chicken tikka masala was invented in the first place to use up left over chicken tikka, most restaurants manage to make it with pieces that retain some moisture and flavor.  The sauce itself was quite good, a pretty standard masala, and I’d order the dish again, albeit with lamb.

Indeed, both of the lamb dishes we ordered were quite good.  Lamb korma ($11) is one of my all time favorite dishes and Indian Oven’s version was pretty good.  The lamb was moist and not overly fatty, and the curry was mild but flavorful.  Kathy was disappointed by the lack of coconut flavor in the curry (per the description of the dish), but IMHO kormas never taste much of coconut. In all, I was satisfied though I’ve tasted better kormas elsewhere.

The mint lamb ($11) was equally satisfying.  Once again the lamb was tender, and the mild mint flavor of the curry was quite alluring. Kathy enjoyed it as well.

Finally, we shared a kashmiri (aka kabuli) naan ($4). It was good enough, though once again not the best version of kashmiri/kabuli naan I’ve ever had.  It was s bit expensive for the quality.

In all, our meal was quite good.  What we ordered ended up being enough for 4 adults and one child, and the total bill came to $54 including tax and tip.  I’d go back there again, though I might give other nearby Indian restaurants a try first.

Indian Oven
10110 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Chatsworth, CA
818-407-8898
Daily 11 AM – 3 PM & 5 PM – 10 PM.

Marga’s Restaurant Reviews – Outside the Bay Area