Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Dinner @ Aslam's Rasoi

After a full week of consuming a rather insane amount of foie gras, and the past month of eating at fairly fancy French/Californian restaurants most nights, I was ready for a break.  Casual.  Simple.  But tasty.  And I was really craving something spicy.

So, I resumed my quest to find some good Indian food in the city.  I still do not have a go to place for Indian.  I've had some enjoyable meals at Amber, but after my last visit, I'm in no rush to go back.  The best I've had lately has been at Amber Dhara, but that is all the way in Palo Alto, and wasn't that memorable.

I've asked around, but no one has had particularly strong recommendations either.  So I did something foolish: I turned to Yelp.  I found a place with a decent number of reviews, 4 stars.  Seemed promising. Prices looked higher than a lot of the generic crappy places, which also seemed promising.  So, I headed to Aslam's Rasoi, in the Mission.  Within the same block, we passed several other Indian restaurants (Udupi Palace and DOSA), both full and hoping.  When we reached Aslam's Rasoi, it was fairly empty.  Not a good sign.  Turns out the actual diners know more than the Yelpers.  We should have turned away and gone to one of the others at this point.

Service was fairly slow, even though there were only two other occupied tables.  One of the plates we were given was dirty.  As was one of the serving pieces.  The food was incredibly lackluster, flavorless, and not well prepared.  It reminded me of any generic microwavable frozen indian food from the supermarket.  Or a random cafeteria buffet.  It was very overpriced.  The only real redeeming factor is that the food came very fast once we ordered, and it was served hot.

I will not return, and we didn't even bother to take our leftovers home.  Please help, do you have any recommendations for Indian food in the city, or the Bay Area in general?  I'm getting desperate enough to travel for it!
Garlic and basil naan: Naan studded with garlic and basil.  $3. 
The only decent dish.  Not particularly notable, but fresh, decent char on it, good chew.  Lots of minced garlic.

It was served in a dirty basket.  You can see the random red sauce on the wicker.  $3 seems pretty standard for naan these days.
Pulou: Basmati rice cooked with saffron, cumin, cardamom and cinnamon.  $3.
Since everything is served a la carte, rice was an additional $3.  Not a lot of rice for the price.  Pretty standard, not much to say here.
Saag Paneer: Cubes of homemade farmer's cheese sauteed with fresh spinach and spices.  $13.
I was really excited to have some of their paneer, as it is made in house.  I love good paneer.

There were only 5 very small pieces of paneer.  It wasn't notable, nor well cooked, a little rubbery.  The spinach was very finely chopped and just mush.  There was no real spicing to the dish.  It was however, very creamy.

The entire dish seemed about the same calibre as a random version from the freezer section of the supermarket, heated up in a microwave.  Really disappointing.  No good flavor, no good cooking, too little paneer, and way overpriced at $13.  This was as generic and banal as it gets.
Bengan Bartha: Freshly roasted eggplant sauteed with chopped onion, garlic, ginger, and spices. $12.
Eggplant dishes can be so hit or miss.  Too often, they are just mushy, full of seeds, and not very good. But when done well, I love a great eggplant dish, in any cuisine.

This, like the saag paneer, was pretty bad.  The eggplant was just a pile of mush, the sauce was oily and had no real spicing.  Incredibly flavorless.  Again, it seemed like something I could have just reheated in a microwave.  And again, incredibly overpriced at $12.
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