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Restaurants & Bars 8

Back to Darbar (SF)

Melanie Wong | May 12, 2004 02:33 AM

With more than a week between curry dives, I scratched the South Asian itch last week with a return to Darbar, the site of one of our early outings. Curious about whether I would regard it as highly now having tried so many other places, I’m happy to report that my more jaded palate still likes the food here very much.

This time I got take-out. The wife part of the ownership team was as gracious as ever, confirming desired spice levels with me. I chuckled when I noted the new menu text describing nihari as “osso buco”. I enjoyed a complimentary cup of hot chai offered to me while I waited for my food. Even though not consumed at their peak, all three items, each new to me, were winners.

Chicken rashmi kebab, $2.49 – A sausage-like cylinder of moist and juicy ground chicken stained orange with seasonings and studded with bits of fresh jalapeño, nicely charred on the edges. I bet it’s even better hot out of the tandoor without steaming in its foil wrapper.

Haleem, $5.99 – My fondness for haleem has turned out to be a lonely quest, as other ‘hounds have found the gluey texture too “different” whenever we order it. This one seems like it has more lentils and less barley, so is less mucilaginous and more like a super-thick gravy binding together pulverized meat. Ordered “medium”, the spiciness was bolder than the version at Shalimar and far more complex. Made with chicken as well as beef, this had more meaty depth and lusciousness, almost like molten meat. Reheating the leftovers tonight for dinner, it still rocks.

Roti, $0.99 – Lovely whole wheat flatbread, some blistered crisp spots and a tender interior. And, it actually tasted like whole wheat with a nutty finish. Very good example.


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