Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lahore Karahi

I've been on a quest to find some indian food I like in San Francisco.  I've been to plenty of places that have been mediocre, but no where that I really find myself wanting to go back to.  So when I recently got some more GoPago credits, I decided to use them to gamble and try out another Indian place.

I decided on Lahore Karahi, a place with fantastic Yelp reviews ... until a few months ago.  I read that it was sold recently, and people are very unhappy with the new ownership.  But I still gave it a try, since I figured that some of the negativity was just people not dealing well with change.

It is a very small place in the Tenderloin, with a somewhat strange model.  Normally, you order at the register, but they bring the food out to you when it is ready.  They seemed to mostly do take-out, and have several online ordering systems, like GoPago, which I used.  I liked that they had a dine-in option available through GoPago.

This is not somewhere you go for decor or ambiance.  The tablecloths were all dirty, stained, and wrinkled.  They then had a plastic layer on top of them, so it seemed really strange that they were so dirty, given the protectors on top.

The staff weren't unfriendly exactly, but said very few words.  On one side of the room was an area with water and unlabeled carafes, with a big sign saying "Self Service".  Luckily, I'd read about this beforehand, so I knew that I could help myself to some hot chai, but I got the impression that no one would have told me about this otherwise.

Overall, it wasn't really good nor bad, just fairly unremarkable.  But, it was definitely the cheapest indian food I've had, and was a fantastic value for the money.  I'd consider going back, but wouldn't go out of my way for it, and will continue my quest to find somewhere I like more!
Chai.  Complimentary.
As I mentioned, there were some unlabeled carafes over on the side, with paper cups next to them.  They were filled with piping hot chai.  It was unsweetened, but there was also sugar you could add in to taste.  It wasn't really remarkable, very milky and barely tea flavored, and almost soapy tasting, but I liked having a nice hot drink, and the price sure was right!
Shahi Paneer.: Lightly fried cheese cooked with nuts in tomato sauce.  $7.99.
My shahi paneer arrived piping hot, within just a few minutes of my ordering.  It stayed incredibly hot the entire time I was eating, with steam continuing to rise from it, even when I was finished.

The sauce was very creamy, clearly made with a lot of heavy cream.  It was also glistening with oil.  A little too heavy for my taste, but I somewhat expected that.  It was pretty flavorful, with decent spicing, and large chunks of spices throughout, including whole leaves.

The paneer was a bit of a disappointment   It was mushy, kinda rubbery, and not really fried on the edges.  It did have a nice flavor however.

The portion size was generous, with a lot of paneer, far more than anywhere else I've been.  And for only $7.99 this was a really good value.  I'd consider getting this again, but it wasn't particularly remarkable.
Naan.  $1.
The naan was freshly made to order.  I saw it being kneaded out after I ordered.  It was actually a really nice size, smaller than many places, which I liked.  Slathered with some oil, and cut into quarters.

It was decent naan.  I wouldn't rave about it, but it was better than most.  Hot, fresh, fluffy, with a good char in a few places.  And only $1?  Very good value, and I'd love to try some of the other flavored/filled naan next time.
Kheer: Special rice cooked with milk and sugar, served cold with pistachios.  $2. 
And, time for dessert! The rice pudding wasn't anything special.  Tiny bits of rice, sweet milky base, some spicing, a few sliced nuts, and a total of 2 raisins in my entire portion.  I added cinnamon and blueberries to it when I got home, and enjoyed it much more.

This was a small little container, but just the right amount for one person, and not bad for $2.  I wish all restaurants offered up small little desserts like this!

Anyway, this wasn't bad, but it wasn't good.  I wouldn't get again.
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