So we did end up going to Le Regal (Vietnamese on Center at Shattuck) Friday night before Punch-Drunk Love and it was tasty, but it was so crowded that the service, though friendly, was a little slow. All four of us ordered bun (vermicelli bowls). My grilled pork was delicious, the tofu one got a thumbs-up, and the beef skewer was yummy, too. Unfortunately, the shrimp skewers were not great - shrimp unpeeled and crunchy and then just not so fresh. In addition, we were all hoping for more...stuff in our bowls. Cilantro and carrot were missing, and there just wasn't much lettuce, cucumber, and bean sprout. Also, we made the mistake of ordering several Thai ice teas (I know, I know - different culture and cuisine!) which were off. I guess they used fresh milk rather than canned condensed milk, and it had gone bad. Other than that, it was a cheap and satisfying meal. $10 per person including tip and tax (no appetizers, no drinks). I think I'd go back on a weeknight but not on a Friday or Saturday.
Also ate at Extreme Pizza on Shattuck at Channing this weekend (not the same night!) and was so surprised that it was good! I guess the atmosphere (highly collegiate, and not in a Dead Poets Society way) had always put me off, but it's a good take-out pizza joint. Of course, it's not in the same league as Cheeseboard or Arizmendi, but for those hours when they're not open, it's all right. They also have lots of interesting toppings such as spinach, mandarin orange slices, fresh basil, cilantro, and sage, hummus (on pizza?!), goat, fontina, feta, and gorgonzola cheeses, and my personal favorite - potatoes! It's a thin-crusted pizza (other than their Zachary's rip-off, the stuffed deep dish pizza) with not too much sauce and cheese. The crust is crisp and fresh-tasting, too.
Last but not least, Sunday night we dined at Ahlishan, a newish North Indian restaurant on University at 10th. The good feelings started with our server remembering us from Khana Peena on Solano(his aunt runs Ahlishan), and continued with the complimentary papadum brought out with the trio of really fresh-tasting mint-cilantro, spicy tomato, and tamarind sauces. Usually those sauces seem like they come out of the jar, but at Ahlishan they were bright and flavorful, not tired. We ordered Kashmiri chicken and Bagan Bhartha with naan and rice. The first dish was tandoori chicken in a thinnish, tomato and curry-based sauce with many spices exploding in your mouth as you ate it! Pretty hot, but mostly just a lot of spice pods and seeds (cardamom? cumin?). According to the description this dish has yogurt in the sauce, but it's not a creamy dish. I guess you could say we couldn't really detect yogurt. All in all, tasty.
The Bagan Bhartha is oven-cooked eggplant crushed and mixed with spices. I like my eggplant very mushy, so this was delicious! We scraped the bowl clean. Again, relatively hot and full of flavor. We got raita to accompany the dishes and it was a generous bowl of yogurt with a few round dumplings almost like the chaat dumplings you get at Vik's.
Mango lassi and salty lassi were delicious and fresh. Naan was good but the rice was a little moist - I like my basmati grains all separate, and this had chunks of moistened rice all sticking together. :(
The gulab jamun was a total disappointment - tasted like fridge (as gulab jamun is wont to do) and had no warm rosewater/honey sauce over top! I call that a crying shame.
The decor is really something - columns with elephant capitals, gauzy materials, and sunny and sumptuous yellow walls. I found myself seated facing a cold case full of multicolored Indian sweets, too, which made it hard to concentrate on the savory treats on my plate.
It was typical Indian prices. Came to about $35 for two of us.
I think I would go back, especially because they change their menu every two months (according to their website). I'd be interested to hear what other people think.