This is a first impression and as such only reflects one visit
As mentioned previously on this board, Shan on 3rd Street has been closed and replaced with Naan & Chutney, sister of restaurant of the same name on Haight where I have never eaten.
We were regulars at Shan, so naturally the time came when we would check out the replacement. That time was last night.
When you walk in, instead of going to the counter to order as was the case with Shan, you are guided to sit at a table of your choice and are handed an extensive menu.
After being seated you look around and notice is that the place has had little more than a lick of paint in way of refurbishment. A clock has been hung over the door where there used to be just the stain of a clock that once was. The high tables and bar stools have been removed and tables have been replaced with new, but plain tables and fancy velveteen green and gold chairs which, for the moment, are actually extremely comfortable. The tables are set with large white plates, sparkling silverware and decent-sized napkins. They bring you large glasses of water. No plastic tumblers here.
When we arrived there was only one other person dining. As you can see from the dining room into the cooking area, you can see that when you order, at least some of your food is cooked up from fresh, notably the appetizers.
My fish pakora was a delightful suprise. I was told the fish was catfish, a fish I am not very familiar with. It was succulent and juicy, just perfect. The batter was extremely light yet bursting with spicy flavour, chile, garlic, just the right amount of salt and whole coriander seeds which burst on every bite. The pakora had been fried to perfection so that they were crispy on the outside, soft within and not in the slightest bit greasy. They were served piping hot, straight to the table from the fryer. Lip-smackingly good.
Dining partner had the seekh kebab (beef not lamb). It, too, was cooked from fresh and served with onions, fresh coriander (cilantro) and a wedge of lemon. It was an uncommonly fat kebab with tender meat, not over cooked and highly flavoursome. I am not a huge kebab fan normally, but this one could easily persuade me to change my mind.
On to the curries: I chose a mutter paneer which was served with a fruity, spicy brown gravy, [think "Brown Sauce" or "HP sauce" if you know what that is], not at all creamy as mutter paneers sometimes are. This was fine.
Dining partner had the chicken tikka masala which to me seemed more like a chcken tikka korma since the sauce was very pale and creamy (yet still spicy) and clearly did not contain any tomato. Nevertheless it was good (we both love creamy curry sauce).
The pillau rice (we shared) was a very large portion of buttery white rice dotted with little black seeds that weren't onion seeds. At least they were not the onon seeds I am familiar with. I had never seen these seeds before which had thin little 'tails' and almost looked like miniscule tadpoles. I will have to try and find out what they are.
Finally the naan. Usually my complaint is that naan isn't crispy enough, or that it is too doughy, served cold and has turned flacid. At N&C it was served piping hot but had been slightly overcooked so that it was too crispy in places.
Overall the prices have gone up quite a bit since Shan, but the surrounds have improved and the food seems to be better. Rice portions are larger too.
I wonder, since we were the only diners at the time, whether the lack of other customers led to us having unusually good service from the kitchen: everything was turned over to us immediately, and was cooked absolutely fresh. I am keeping my fingers crossed the experience will be as good next time.
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