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AJanta

Dinners at Ajanta are served with basmati rice, a side dish of spinach and potatoes (with non-veg dinners) or chickpeas (with vegetarian dinners), half of a naan bread, mango and tamarind chutneys, and achar pickles. Dinners are served in a way that allows you to share dishes. A la carte and prix fixe ordering are also available.

Safed Murgh Korma, a chicken korma with an almond or cashew paste, also papadam and naan in background: from Agra, a specialty of the Muslim Emperor and high court that created the Taj Mahal.

Gulab Jamun: a cheese-based dessert, soaked in a light sugar syrup with green cardamom and rose water - a large one is shown here.

If I could only show one Indian restaurant in the Berkeley-Oakland area to an out-of-town friend, which would it be? Despite the allure of the frisky Juhu Beach Club that has captured the eye of the bay area (a fusion variant of Mumbai street fare), despite the authenticity of Indus and Kabana at the heart of Berkeley's Little India (though oily), despite the growing popularity of chaat availabilities, Ajanta in the end is the closest thing to an upscale Indian restaurant in the area. It provides a comprehensive standard of care that many Indian restaurants lack, including a balanced menu in every sense that even has a decent wine list. Their approach to food is sophisticated and from its beginning embraced a low-fat approach, before it was trendy. It may not be the best Indian, or even most authentic (and those terms depend on the taster), but it is a very presentable Western, modern restaurant interpretation, a place that serves well-prepared food that can support both the casual get-together and the most formal affair.

On some small plate impressions: I love daal soup and I like theirs enough to sometimes order two. The Tandoori scallops appetizer is a must share. Their teapots of chai are fresh made to order, per person. Their complex, rotating menu covers all parts of India, featuring organic, seasonal ingredients.

Menu: http://www.yelp.com/menu/ajanta-restaurant-berkeley
Parking: Solano Avenue is a busy street; parking can be found on The Alameda cross street.

Michelin: Recommended
Alice Waters: One of her favorite places to eat.
Zagat: 27 / 30. "Best Indian Restaurant in Bay Area" 5 years running.
Yelp: 4 / 5

Cheers,

Stephen Yeh / Lebeauviolet

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Please be sure to cancel 24 hours before the event. Standard No Show policy applies.

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  • Joan S.

    I'm looking forward to meeting everyone in our group at one of my favorite restaurants.--Joan

    September 25, 2013

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