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Revisiting Mountain View’s Amber Café: Still Eaarning As for the Baay Area’s Best Chaat

katya | May 19, 200608:58 PM

Because the malai methi chicken wrap that I ate last Saturday continued to haunt me (and not in an Indian food revenge on the stomach sort of way), I returned to Amber Café last night for dinner. We *had* to order the kathi roll as 1) it’s on the wrap menu and would hopefully be as good as the malai methi, and 2) I love Vik’s version and have never seen it anywhere else.

The kathi roll ($6.99 for a plate of two) is described as a chicken kebab seasoned with ginger and green chilies, and topped with red onions inside an egg-coated paratha. It was damn good. All the seasonings melded together wonderfully. I think the malai methi might have been slightly better, but I may have just built it up too much in my mind.

We also ordered the pav bhaji ($6.49), described in the menu as consisting of mixed vegetables (usually eggplant based on my experience at other restaurants) and spices and served with toasted “pav” bread. Pav bhaji is one of my favorite chaat items and this rendition was stellar. You slather one half of a pav with the bhaji, kind of like an open-faced vegetarian Sloppy Joe. Then you top it off with some raw onions and a squirt of lemon (the usual pat of butter was not present but was not missed). The portion was humongous (at least two times as big as an order elsewhere), and we only got through about half of it (however we did go through all the bread in our Sloppy Joe construction). My only regrets: I wish they carried a smaller size better for two, and the bread was too buttery.

One bad thing about Amber Café: it’s frickin’ cold! Both times we’ve had to wear jackets while eating food. That can be a potentially hazardous undertaking when eating drippy hand-held chaat. The restaurant was about 1/5 full at 7:00. So, go there now! Give them some business (so they won’t close in which case I’ll be out of my Amber Café wraps forever).

For two people, we got out of there for $13.50 for dinner before tax, and couldn’t even finish all our food. Amber Café may well be my favorite chaat restaurant around.

Katya’s Bay Area Chaat Rankings
1. Amber Café, Mountain View
2. Vik’s, Berkeley
3. Chaat Café, San Francisco & Berkeley (other locations in Fremont, San Jose)
4. Real Ice Cream, Santa Clara
5. Deedee’s, Mountain View
6. Rajjot, Sunnyvale
7. Chaat Paradise, Mountain View
8. Lovely, Mountain View
9. Bombay, San Francisco
10. Some terrible chaat place on University between the Shattucks, Berkeley

Truth be told I’ve only been to the last six listed once, and visiting again would give a more accurate ranking.

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