Albany >Food & Dining > Cafe Raj
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This is the first 5 STAR rating I've ever given out--and I don't have any qualms doing so.
The food here is amazing. It is some of the best Indian food I've ever eaten in the states. The flavors are intense and fresh, and the food is displayed in a very attractive array of colors.
The place is nice, too. I am not a huge fan of "fine dining" as I feel most "fine dining" establishments serve food that is a far cry from what I can find at dive mom-and-pop places However i was so much impressed by service they gave me.
Service A (we got our food quick and that place was packed)
However, I would not suggest this place when it is packed as a "first date" place. It gets very loud in the restaurant and you might find yourself nodding and agreeing with whatever your date says. On the other hand, you may do that regardless.
Great spot for Indian. I've always been curious to eat at Cafe Raj. I pass it all the time on Solano and its been recommended by a few of my co-worker. My brother, his wife and I were all craving Indian a couple of weekends ago and I suggested this place...finally. All I have to say is "dang, why did it take me so long to get here?!" Super delicious, not greasy and they even have brown basmati rice!!! The Chicken Tikka Masala was the bomb! Chicken was white meat and tender and the sauce was amazing. I poured every drop of the left over sauce on my brown rice. I'll definitely be going back to this place. The veggie dishes look yummy too. Will be trying those for sure.
Best Indian experience in Berkeley!. I've lived in Berkeley my entire life, and Cafe Raj has consistently been the BEST place to get fresh, authentic, Indian food! While other restaurants have inconsistent service and food quality, my family and I can always come in and be greeted and welcomed by the friendly, outgoing people who work there. They truly care that the people they serve have a wonderful experience from beginning to end. Everyone is very accomodating and almost seems more like an extended family than a business. Another plus is the simple, yet warm and comfortable decor and environment. At many Indian restaurants in the area, it seems one has to be willing to sacrifice service or cleanliness in order to get authentic Indian food-- not the case at Cafe Raj. The place is small but meticulous, and the professional staff give you no doubt that you're getting great quality food-- the kitchen is just off the dining room and the chef frequently peers around the corner to check in and say hello! All dishes are cooked fresh to order, and while this sometimes make the wait time for the food a little longer, it's worth it! In the meantime, you can munch on tasty samosas or sip a traditional nimbu pani or mango lassi. Our favorites are the Chicken Tika Masalla or the Saag (Spinach) Panneer, though we love everything on the menu! If you need suggestions, the diverse, knowledgeable waitstaff are there to help-- some are Indian women with long, flowing hair and saris; others are white or of varied descent-- yet all are extremely knowledgeable, professional, and make cafe raj one of the most talked about Indian restaurants in the East Bay-- and for good reason!!!
Everything deliciious, but just a bit too salty. Really down to earth place, not your run-of-the-mill Indian cuisine. Certain dishes are a bit too salty, so perhaps it's better just to order mild with less salt.
Sauces sent straight from heaven.... The food is better, the portions larger, and the prices lower than any other Indian restaurant I've eaten at that is even close to comparable quality. The sauces seem to be sent straight from heaven. The ingredients are very fresh. Plus, the chef takes great care to trim the meat of its fat and not add a lot of oil--very unusual for an Indian restaurant. Amazingly, all this comes without any sacrifice to flavor. You will not regret a trip to Cafe Raj. It is straight up great big bang for the buck.
stellar indian/paki food. Awesome hole-in-the-wall that serves some of the best Indian/Pakistani food around. What sets Raj apart is its "home-cooking", "grub" style and the freshness of its ingredients. Plus, the dishes can be done so painfully hot on request, that the helpful waitresses will try to talk you out of it! They've got ample vegetarian dishes, and some are serious stand-outs, like the mater paneer, channa masala, and their mixed vegetable curry. The lamb shai-korma rocks, as does their tikka misala. My only issue is that they use these enormous, dry chunks of white chicken, and I prefer it to be tender and juicy. Also, some dishes lose flavor when ordered mild, so you've got to get it "very spicy" for the full effect. But these are minor things. If you feel alienated by Ajanta's pretensions (great but swank Indian food at opposite end of Solano) then you'll probably dig Cafe Raj.
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