Monday night I stopped in Mountain View for a quick snack on my way south. I remembered positive mentions of Amber Cafe (Saravana Bhavan's old location) so swung by there.
This was just the ticket. Order and pay at the counter, food brought out quickly.
I started with papdi chaat ($4.49). Amber makes its own crisps and the extra quality makes a difference. The sprinkle of sev on top is a nice touch. Yet, I think that Vik's in Berkeley has a more distinctive (and addictive) seasoning and more complex chutneys despite its stale crisps. Here I needed to add some extra green mint chutney to get the flavor impact I wanted.
The pav bhaji ($6.49) is as good as Katya describes below. I would have liked a smaller order size at a lower price. I didn't pick up any eggplant in this mix. It had less of the long-cooked together texture and taste. The individual flavor of the various vegetables in the blend still spoke. And, there was a tiny mince of red and green raw peppers that added a nice crunch and fresh taste. The balance was quite tart and I didn't add any more lemon juice. This didn't have the extra pat of butter on top, so I appreciated the extra butter on the housebaked, toasty pav rolls. The raw onions and cilantro were extra fresh and had obviously been cut to order.
Prices seemed a tad high but I guess this is a new establishment and the setting is spic and span. But I liked the food, and I'll be having the leftover pav bhaji for lunch tomorrow.