Yesterday when I realized that it was time to take the silk sweater I was wearing to the dry cleaner, my immediate thought was that I should lunch at a tandoori restaurant. After such excursions, I usually emerge with my hair and clothes smelling like I'd been marinated in garam masala, smoked and covered with onions.
I headed to Daawat in Union City, an off-spring of the Pakwan clan. It's in a newish strip mall. The simple interior is white and bright with a fresh scrubbed look and glass-topped tables. One wall has a row of upholstered booths.
Monday through Friday (11:30am to 3pm), a special lunch combo is offered with a choice of one meat and one veggie from a small list, plus rice, naan, and a fountain drink for $5.99. You order at the counter, then your food is brought to your table, and you pay when you're done. I picked the whole tandoori chicken leg plus eggplant, and helped myself to a diet coke.
It took a little while for my food to come. Not a problem, as it meant that my chicken was being fired to order and not pulled off a warming tray. It was more than worth the wait. This might be the best tandoori chicken around. A whole leg with part of the back attached was marinated to a medium spicing level. While the flesh was scored for even cooking, the juicy chicken was ultramoist and not dry at all, red at the bone in fact. Served with a wedge of lemon and onions that were freshly cut (not sulfurous) and sweet, the chicken was just great with the green chutney squirted from a squeeze bottle.
The eggplant was not as distinguished, tasting mostly of tomatoes with a few stray peas. Not much roasted or smoky nuance, and not spicy at all, it was fresh tasting but bland. I probably wouldn't pick this again.
The saffron rice was picture perfect with loose, very long-grained basmati tinged with yellow and orange and flecked with savory seeds. It had a nice firm bite yet wasn't hard or too oily. The naan, also made to order, smelled great right out of the tandoor. Mottled golden brown on the bottom, it was served dry without ghee. Thick and puffy, not doughy at all, the flatbread was wonderfully tender with a fresh crispness to the charred parts.
For dessert, I got a faluda to go. It had layers of jellies, basil seeds, noodles, crushed ice, and canned fruit cocktail topped with two scoops of rich ice cream. The cream flowing over the parfait had just a hint of rosewater, not overpowering like some versions can be. This was excellent too.
This kitchen seems to have more powerful exhaust hoods. I didn't notice as much of the Indo/Pakistani cooking perfume on me as usual.
33330 Alvarado Niles Rd. (north of Decoto)
Union City 94587
credit cards accepted
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