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Restaurants & Bars 9

Indus Village , San Pablo Ave

moto | Dec 6, 200503:36 AM

I got whiffs of nice aromas coming from this storefront on earlier shopping visits in the area. The busy crossing of University Ave and the old highway(San Pablo Ave) has many food purveyors in a 1/2 mi radius including a standout Indian grocery (Milan) and Spanish foods/wines/cookware shop (Spanish Table),a Hispanic grocery, Everett&Jones bbq,et alia, kind of a gritty urban alternative to North Berkeley's other eater's ghetto. Recent 'hound posts on Indus Village have been positive,too. It's located on San Pablo, west side of street, a few stores north of Univ. and two shops south of the Spanish Table. We made it in for a late lunch. The protocol is order and pay at the register and wait with a number at one of the small tables, where there's spotless ceramic plates, stainless utensils, and glassware for water. The decor is simple with bright,colorful walls and chairs. My spouse was hungry so I didn't linger over the menu, which had a dozen or so entrees all within the curry house mainstream and four kinds of breads, but focused on the combo plates which included rice and naan($1 ea. if ordered a la carte), all under $10. There was one vegetarian combo, the rest paired curries and kebabs of beef, chicken, lamb, or veg. We ordered the Indus combo(chicken tikka masala with spinach-potato curry, $6.99))and an extra onion naan($1.99). Our beverage of choice is the milked and spiced chai usually found, and here it was complimentary, a pleasant way to pass the short wait, which was ten minutes or a little less as the place was nearly empty.In many accounts of curry house folklore, chicken tik.mas. was first put together from leftover tandoor chicken, and I doubt there's a house that has tandoor and doesn't serve it.There's also probably a tandoor techie term equivalent to T-B.A.R.(tandoor'd beyond all recog.) and in some establishments the dried- out remnants of the buffet ends up in the tikka mas., BUT the chicken in the Indus Vil's version was at the other end of the spectrum, three nice chunks of recognizably white tender breast meat in the masala sauce. The spinach was still well within the green part of the spectrum (over-done versions go to dark olive and brown, this was just right).The naans were just a touch doughy but cooked through and tender, far better than the tough stuff one can encounter in semi fast food,inexpensive Indo-Pak. eateries. Of the three such places we've patronized (one is the popular naan'n'curry on College)I.V.'s food was easily the best, by our limited sample, not at all greasy or overcooked, the seasonings mildly assertive (heat lovers could probably request it amped up), a nice reminder of how pleasing the spices can be when they're NOT smothered by excessive oil/ghee or re-heating.In the quality of the cooking, excluding things like fancy ambience,costly ingredients, beer and wine, or extensive menu choices, I.V. can measure up to its more expensive dressed up cousins. Avoiding excess and pretense, it doesn't overreach and keeps its prices down.There was plenty for the two of us on the single plate with plain naan; we ended up taking home 1/2 of each naan. My wife and I found an northern mainstream style complement to our usual South Indian favorite, the Udupi Palace. We haven't tried Vik's.If only we could find good Indian in Oakland...we passed an interesting looking place in a house in Alameda.... 'a luego, peace.

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