Named after the small restaurants in India they aim to emulate, Dhaba Indian Cuisine engages taste buds with an array of authentic dishes and flavors from across its culinary homeland. Wake up hibernating taste buds with a spicy blast of chicken tikka marinated in a smooth blend of spices and yogurt, or fried mirchi vada stuffed with pickled green chilies. Morsels of chicken, lamb, and prawns fight to hide beneath mounds of rice in the special nawabi biryani and more than 15 savory chicken specialties hold down dishes threatening to elope with curved silverware. Blazing spices scorch taste buds with each mouthful of lamb vindaloo and homemade cubes of indian cottage cheese mingle with a blend of fresh veggies in the paneer jalfrezi's rich tomato curry. Glasses of house wine cool spice-tickled palates, preventing the need to order ice cream between courses to balm sweating tongues.
Champions of adhering to traditional recipes and culinary practices, a father-and-son team serves as both the owners and head chefs of New Passage to India. Their kitchen staff whips up dishes native to a variety of Indian regions, granting diners a taste of the subcontinent without the paper cuts that come from eating maps. They handcraft ingredients such as house-made paneer cheese, garden-fresh mushrooms, and fresh lamb with pinches of hand-ground spices. Sensitive to varied tolerances of piquancy, the chefs customize the heat levels of many of their creations to individual preferences. Affable servers wend from table to table within the dining room’s deep-green walls and wooden columns.
The aromas of South Asian spices lure passersby into Abhiruchi India Cuisine, where they typically pause for a moment to savor the décor and read the descriptions of more than 100 Indian specialties. Halal and vegetarian options are both well represented on the lengthy menu, which features spicy curries and tandoori-baked entrees based on chicken, seafood, and lamb or goat. When they aren’t scooping tikka masala into trays for the lunch buffet or pilfering Marco Polo’s travelogues for new recipes, the restaurant’s chefs accommodate partygoers with catering services.
An epicurean underdog, Tabla holds its weight against nearby big-name chains and tourist traps with beautifully prepared dishes of superbly seasoned Indian fare. Start with the masala pappadum ($2), topped with onion salad, masalas, and chutneys, or sink forks into a fried samosa pastry to expose warm potatoes and chickpeas ($5). Muligatwany ($4) and garlicy rasam ($4) soups tempt spoon wielders. The expansive offering of entrees, broken down by chicken, seafood, lamb, and vegetarian dishes, are all Indian mainstays. The menu also features an impressive assortment of naan (starting at $2.50), tandoori ($14–$20), and Indo or Chinese platters ($7–$10). For dessert, try the chocolate samosa ($6), a volcanic treat served with vanilla ice cream, or the toffee pudding ($6).
For the last 26 years, Executive Chef Dominic Sarkar has traveled from Dubai to California preparing the meals he learned to cook back in India. At Raga, he prepares exquisite dishes from a vast menu of softly spiced curries and kebabs, each of which arrives at tables elegantly plated. The dining room matches the stylish arrangements of food, surrounding guests with exposed brick walls, cut glass chandeliers overhead, and stylish felt seating. At the back of the room, the kitchen's fourth wall is removed, so diners can watch Chef Sarkar's cooking techniques as well as observe his sous chefs Greco-Roman wrestling for the chance to help on a dish.