Oh the joys of hole in the wall places. They make you feel like such an insider. In our efforts to branch out, we’ve discovered a great South Asian place – Kabana Pakistani restaurant. Located at the corner of University and San Pablo, it’s in Berkeley’s two block South Asian neighborhood.
This is some amazingly good eating in the most unassuming environment. There are maybe like ten tables and it fits about 20 people. The kitchen and grilled are right at the counter and there’s Bollywood music videos playing on tv at all times. There a super polite guy that greets you and you seat yourself. It’s a casual atmosphere where people will change tables as unexpected members of their party arrive. It’s all good.
Like your hole in the wall places, the prices are cheap. Around $8 for an meat entree and $5 for a vegetarian entree. The starches, rice and naan, are extra.
Their menu consists of the usual curries, vegetables, tandooris, and naans. Anything in a curry sauce is uniformly good. It’s just that much more flavorful than your usual curries with an interesting sour-sweet component. There is an expectation that you order the naan. In fact, it seems more usual to order naan than the rice. They’ll ask if you want rice but they will say that the end of your order – “And naan, right?” So of course we order. but the real find in the starch department is their stuffed paratha. It’s fried bread that’s greasy but also really aromatic, stuffed with herbs I can’t identify. While most of the vegetarian dishes are good, I’d recommend you order the aloo gobi which is really intensely flavored and the okra special which is just amazing. They get a very nice caramelization on the okra, onions, and tomatoes. The one dish I would avoid is their palak paneer, which is surprisingly bland. But where this restaurant really shines in their tandoori. You have to order it because it rocks in several ways:
1. It’s incredibly flavored. You really taste the spice and yogurt.
2. The tandoori meats are the most tender I’ve ever had. Most of the time I find tandoori to be dried out but this is incredibly moist.
3. It’s plentiful – usually restaurants will give you three or four perfunctory pieces of tandoori. This places fills your plate. Are great bargain considering the $7.99 price tag.
For those of you looking for a great, and I mean GREAT cheap eat, this is your place.