Amber India Restaurant
1140 Olsen Drive
San Jose, CA
(Santana Row Location)
Amber India's original outpost in Mountain View has long been regarded as the high point of refined Indian Cuisine in the Bay Area. Taking a risk, they decided to open a second place in the then unproven Santana Row concept. The result is really a treat for
the senses of taste, smell and sight. Although the layout is not perfect (some larger tables are exposed to the kitchen), the overall design is soothing and warm.The sweeping curves of the bar are mirrored by the whimisical design of the ceiling where
a muted light show projects differing color schemes overlaid with Sanscrit and English
The service is really outstanding. Our large party was made to feel welcome and information was forthcoming about both food and wine. Our waitress had the added
burden of providing us with French-style service, elegantly doling out food to each of our plates.
What about the food? I think this place is at the cusp of a nationally recognized
standing with its modern and sleek interpretations of south asian cuisine.
We began with Chakripool duck crepes ($8), the vegetable samosa ($5.25) and spinach and feta rolls ($7). The portions may have been small but the flavor was not. Each plate was delicately prepared and presented beautifully. The duck was tender and infused with
savory spicing. The samosa was sadly vegetarian but still good. I still yearn for the lamb filled version that were easier to come by in Canada.
The main courses are divided into clay oven, traditional and contemporary. The website
( see below) has the full menus and prices along with lots of photos to whet your appetite. The restaurant's signature dish is butter chicken, a tikka masala type dish. The chicken lays in ample quantities of reddish, sweet sauce that mixes nicely with rice. The Peshawari chicken tikka was a collection of perfectly cooked legs colored with a fragrent spice rub that made me want to gnaw the bones after the meat was gone. We also tried the delicious naan, with a glistening coat of rosemary and olive oil that came to our table bubbling and warm and chewy. Also recommended are their lamb dishes which are handled great skill. The seekh kebab gilati were minced lamb kebabs with an exotic charcoal flavor that was remiscint of western Turkey.
The list of choices goes on and on. There is a very full vegetarian menu that looks very worthwhile exploring as well as soups, more breads, daal (lentils) and raita.
The wine list extensive and the prices fair. The host is knowledgeable about pairings
and for those unfamiliar with the flavors of India, his help is a must.