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).
The chefs at Annapurna meld a variety of authentic herbs and spices with veggie-laden entrees to craft a menu of savory Indian eats. The cheese dosa Annapurna special stuffs its pillowed crepe with a hearty blend of marinated mozzarella cheese, tomato, and cilantro ($8.95), dueling the succulent flavors of the Hyderabadi baingan ka bharta curry—fresh eggplant from the clay oven with an armful of chopped onions, diced tomatoes, and a special spice blend ($9.95). Batter-fried pieces of cauliflower bask in a garlic sauce with tomato accents in the gobi manchurian ($10.95), finishing off appetites with orders of the garlic naan ($3) or two vegetable samosas that barely manage to contain a potato-and-mixed-vegetable mélange within its crispy crusts ($4.50). A cultural immersion from "hello" to "holla back," Annapurna keeps guests cozy with a dining room TV broadcasting a range of Bollywood movies and sports.
Cuisine Type: Indian
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 50+
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Chicken tikka masala
Alcohol: Beer and wine only
Delivery/Takeout Available: Yes
Outdoor Seating: No
Many Indian restaurants serve dishes that might seem quite spicy to an American palate. With its various vindaloo and curry dishes, Shalimar Cuisine of India is no exception. But Shalimar's chefs don't want to leave customers searching frantically for a frozen flagpole to lick, so they whip up a variety of homemade drinks to cool off tongues. These include a sparkling lemonade ginger soda, a sweet and a salty yogurt lassi, and a refreshing mint ice tea. Additionally, they can adjust the spice levels in all of their dishes to accommodate mouths.
Born and raised in New Delhi, Chef Sabherwal has spent more than two decades perfecting the art of integrating centuries-old Mughlai cuisine into a modern culinary aesthetic. He's practiced his craft in kitchens all over the world, to the delight of many distinguished diners. With such an esteemed talent behind the tandoor, it's no surprise that his current professional home derives its name from the Hindi word for "chef." Past the giant bay windows waits a wonderland of Northern Indian delicacies, such as specialty chicken pakora deep-fried with chickpea dough, and Punjabi missi roti??a tangy, pancake-like dish served with onion chili salad.
Manjit Singh, known to his contemporaries as a tandoori guru, has captained the kitchen at Tandoor-A-India for 20 years. In that time, he's developed a bountiful menu of Indian cuisine that hinges on aromatic curries and meats marinated overnight before facing the blazing fires of a tandoor oven. Vegetarian options include saag paneer packed with housemade cheese and enough spinach to sate a starving Popeye or the vegetable korma with cashew nuts and a creamy curry sauce. As diners sop up reservoirs of curry with buttery loaves of paratha, they toast the multiple uses of yogurt with frosty, creamy glasses of mango lassi.
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.