The founders of Annapurna Southbay chose to name their restaurant after a Sanskrit title for the goddess of the harvest, and it's easy to see why they chose that name for the Annapurna special dosa. Measuring four feet in length and spanning almost an entire table, this is just one example of the chefs' dedication to hearty, bountiful meals. Most of the menu focuses on cuisine from India's four southern states— Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Kerala, and Karnataka—uniting the coconut, tamarind, and dried red chilies that characterize so many of the region's dishes. These ingredients add their distinctive flavor and spice to orders of tandoor-roasted chicken, fiery lamb curry, and slow-cooked lentils.
Echoing the restaurant's pastoral inspiration, the dining room boasts a verdant, leaf-like wall pattern above the line of burgundy-hued booths. Blooming flowers adorn the buffet area, and stone tiles from the backyard quarry line a wall near the storefront windows.
Named one of the top 10 South Bay ethnic restaurants by the Daily Breeze, Al Watan has served up authentic Indian and Pakistani fare for more than 25 years. Much of the menu is cooked in a traditional clay oven, bringing intense heat to meaty specialties such as the tandoori chicken, expertly spiced to the rich orange hue of a dying sun ($6.99). Lamb, goat, and beef are also offered, cooked in a variety of regional spices and sauces. The naan, also cooked in the clay oven, includes plain ($1), garlic ($1.99), and butter ($2.25) varieties to mop up the savory leavings of the entrees. An extensive vegetable selection ensures that noncarnivores will find something to put in their bellies. Tongues stung by spice can seek succor in the cool sanctuary of the lassis or mango shakes ($2 each).
Ocean Tava crafts definitive Indian dishes from a subcontinentally rich palette of flavors, serving zesty curries and tender kebabs in a swanky setting. To engage fried-pastry receptors, diners can start with potato- and green-pea-stuffed vegetable samosas ($4.95) and wash away any straggling morsels with freshly-brewed masala tea ($3.95). The menu highlights India's famed meatless cuisine, offering vegetarian entrees such as bengan bharta, a baked eggplant dish ($12.95), and saag paneer, spinach smothered with cubes of homemade cheese flavored with fenugreek ($13.95). Ravenous carnivores can sink their pearly whites into the tandoori mixed platter, an assortment of tandoori chicken, seekh kebab (minced meat), chicken tikka, and salmon, fired in a traditional clay inferno ($19.95).
Chef Rafi did not create Fresh Kabobs to get rich. He finds his reward in the opportunity to share authentic Indian dishes, such as tandoori chicken breast and grilled whole tilapia, with families in a casual, welcoming atmosphere. Inside his kitchen, chef Rafi draws from his pantry packed with USDA-choice Angus beef, fresh vegetables, and lamb imported from New Zealand to prepare each dish to order. Seated at dark-wood tables in the brightly lit dining area, patrons split spicy curry bowls brimming with basmati rice and sip mango lassis freshly blended with yogurt and spices. The dining area's high ceilings seem to extend to the stratosphere, past the red-tiled eaves and sky-blue murals dotted with fluffy white clouds shaped like cubes of paneer.