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April 7, 2010 > Restaurant Review: Quick and tasty Indian food at Chutney Restaurant

Restaurant Review: Quick and tasty Indian food at Chutney Restaurant

By Shavon Walker

Chutney may be overshadowed by a more infamous neighbor, Hooters, but its decor is impressive all the same. Diners see bright, colorful pictures of Indian spices, jewelry and henna art along the entryway. Ordering a meal is done at the front, and choose any seat in the spacious dining area. Behind small tables, cushioned seats line the walls to accommodate larger parties.

India with a touch of modern design comes to mind when dining at Chutney. This is exactly what Cousins Asad Warraich and Zaib Bajwa, owners of Chutney, planned when they opened. "The community needed a restaurant with the feel of an expensive restaurant, but without the high prices," said Warraich. "We wanted to give them a place to enjoy with their families and have fun."

The Chutney menu is carefully designed to appeal to all audiences. Non-Indian patrons might enjoy Chicken Biryani, while North Indians may prefer goat curry. Southern Indians often gravitate to Malai Kosta. When my husband and I looked at the menu, we were able to find a number of dishes to our liking.

We decided to order the chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Biryani, veggie Samosas, and garlic Naan. We then indulged in the salad bar and hot tea, free with every meal. The salad bar is very simple - lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and jalapeno peppers and two kinds of dressing - but it was the best salad I've ever had. I'm not sure why, but perhaps it had to do with a spicy powder I sprinkled on top.

Our food didn't take long to arrive. The chicken Tikka Masala was surprisingly good; the chicken breast meat wasn't the least bit dry or overcooked and the sauce was outstanding. It was so good I ate most of it with the Naan and even poured it over the Samosas.

The Lamb Biryani, lamb over rice, was also very good. I have an allergy to cilantro, so I had to be careful with this dish, but the chefs are more than happy to make dishes to exacting specifications. At any rate, the lamb was tender and delicious. The rice wasn't mushy or undercooked and it went well with the rest of the dish. A small serving of Raita came with the Biryani, and it was the perfect accompaniment.

Samosas came two to a serving. The crispy coating held a filling of potatoes and peas, and it was all well seasoned. The Samosas didn't really need a lot of help from the Tikka Masala sauce, but the sauce certainly enhanced the flavor.

Garlic Naan arrived hot and delicious. Most of it was eaten with the Tikka Masala, but we managed to save just enough for the Biryani. It's rare that I have bad Naan, and this was no exception.

Before eating at Chutney, I had some rather negative notions of Indian food. I thought it was too spicy and the taste of the cilantro and cumin was overpowering. I discovered, however, that a good restaurant can make food that suits every palate. The entire experience at Chutney was wonderful and helped prove me very wrong. The bathrooms need to be cleaned a bit more often but I highly recommend this restaurant.

Reviewed March 31, 2010

Chutney Restaurant
3352 Mowry Ave., Fremont
(510) 796-6666

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