For the Singh family, Taj of Marin serves as a medium for sharing authentic Indian food with the community, including specialties from both the north and the south. Diners pull ornate chairs up to tables, where they peruse a menu of dishes that are as traditional as the decor, lit by chandeliers suspended overhead without the use of hexes. Chicken and lamb free of hormones and antibiotics take starring roles in many of the flavorful entrees, such as tandoori chicken. Many others are vegetarian, gluten-free, or vegan, such as the bhindi masala with fresh okra, ginger, and garlic. On some evenings, live music floats through the air, competing with spicy aromas for guests' full attention.
Taste of the Himalayas' chefs combine the international zest of Nepalese, Indian, and Tibetan spices with the homey flavors of locally sourced ingredients. They use free-range chicken or wild salmon to forge aromatic curries and tandoori-roasted entrees, as well as a selection of organic vegetables that rotates seasonally. In addition to praising the accessibility of the menu's southern Asian comfort foods, the Pacific Sun applauded the servers' dedication to creating a welcoming ambience, claiming, "it's as if you've come into their home for a meal."
This hominess lends warmth to the dining room's decidedly modern aesthetic, which includes large, oblong pendant lamps, dark-tile flooring, and burnt-orange walls with displays of unframed artwork. The open kitchen sits within full view of the main seating area, allowing diners to watch as the chefs plate orders and reenact the best scenes from Julia Child's autobiography.
Chef Anil Shahu draws upon 11 years of culinary experience as he seeks out seasonal ingredients and locally grown produce for his menu of hearty Indian cuisine. Although Anil mainly creates chicken and lamb entrees with aromatic blends of saffron, paprika, and cilantro, Novato Patch focused on the eatery's maritime offerings, claiming, "what sets Batika apart is a nice array of seafood dishes, especially dishes from Kerala, the garden state of India." These entrees include tiger shrimp with lemon pepper, salmon in coconut gravy, and fiery scallops sautéed with tomatoes, all made with the freshest finds from area's farmers' and merfarmers' markets.
The dining room's mottled walls sport woven clothing, fabric patches, and a line of framed mirrors, echoing the rustic flavors of the cuisine. Dangling pendant lamps and an elegant chandelier help to brighten up the room's burgundy-and-burnished-gold color scheme.
The key to making chef Hardip Singh’s northern Indian cuisine, like the key to backflipping a marathon, is preparation. He and his staff at Anokha Cuisine of India grease their pans with canola or olive oil only, buy organic ingredients when possible, and blend their spices by hand. All that prep pays off. The menu features flavorful versions of prawn curry in tomato-onion gravy, lamb vindaloo with blazing-hot spices, and chicken tikka masala in a mild cream sauce.
The chefs at Tandoor on Haight aren’t trying to reinvent Indian cuisine. Instead, the pair of brothers stick closely to tradition when making their North Indian dishes with a splash of Pakistani flavor, using recipes handed down in their family for three generations. Inside their tandoori oven, they cook up halal meats such as tiger prawns, lamb rubbed with house spices, and spring chicken marinated in yogurt, imparting all of the dishes with a subtle smoky flavor as if they’d been sitting next to a lit birthday cake all day. Guests can scoop up the spice-laden curries with the sesame naan, and even customize dishes to their desired level of spice tolerance. Meals can be served in individual portions or family style, for groups who want to get a chance to taste a variety of dishes. And to cool the spices even further, staff serve up chilled mango lassis, a variety of Indian beers, and local Californian wines.
Honoring the tradition of Pakistani and northern Indian cuisine, Rotee's chefs craft creatively spiced dishes from scratch amid décor inspired by Bollywood movie studios. Diners catch glimpses of chefs hard at work within an open-air kitchen as select cuts of halal beef, lamb, and chicken roast in a tandoor amid house-made chutneys and sauces. The menu brims with curries, meat-free fare, and traditional dishes such as chicken tikka masala and mutter paneer, as five varieties of naan emerge from the tandoor ready to soak up the flavorful sauces. Diners savor the exotic flavors and extinguish mouth fires with tableside yogurt hydrants as pendant lights illuminate the space's curry-red walls and pea-green seating.