At the end of July, Amber Dhara opened its doors in the Mission District, crowned Valencia Street's biggest restaurant with a roughly 6,000 square foot two-tiered dining room and about 300 seats. As the sixth venture from Bay Area restaurateur Vijay Bist, Amber Dhara is serving up creative, casual Indian fare, emphasizing California produce from the hands of newcomer chef Arindam Bahel. Will Amber Dhara be able to secure a top 100 spot like its older sister restaurant, or will it get lost in the shuffle of the six other Indian restaurants within a four-block radius? Let's take a reading from the interwebs to see what people are saying.
The Food News: Bauer named two favorites on the menu over a two week span: the trio of chicken tikka, and the duck kebab, threading "plump chunks of meat sautéed with cumin, coriander, ginger, and other fragrant spices." Meesha Halm over at Zagat was "particularly jazzed" about the masala ojhari on butter naan, spiced pork belly on housemade bread, and the Hyderabadi chicken biryani made with Mary's Farm chicken and rose water. On the flipside, Chowhounder Miss Veg reports that "the table next to us complained about their dry biryani."
The Menu News: Grubstreet notes that the menu is a "somewhat more casual version of the Amber India menu, but only a little less expensive." Inside Scoop's Paolo Lucchesi adds that there is "a big bar menu available, particularly compared to his three Amber India Restaurants" Tasting Table writes, "The menu takes more risks than Amber's first San Francisco location," adding that "chef Arindam Bahel weaves Indian spicing around California produce." Zagat's Meesha Halm comments on the prices, calling the menu "affordable," and says "most everything is priced under $20."
The Eggplant News: Tasting Table called the Baluchi Baingan appetizer a "a Grateful Dead spin on eggplant parm," describing the dish as "coins of crisp battered eggplant arrayed across garlicky yogurt, then dabbed with sugary tomato chutney psychedelic with sweet spices." Chowhounder Miss Veg said her eggplant dish was "perhaps my favorite dish of the night," despite the fact that she was "underwhelmed by the portion." Though Yelper Jenny Y. gave a mere two stars, her eggplant dish was "excellent" and "very tender."
The Vibe News: An OpenTable-r thought the restaurant was "nicely decorated," but found the music "a bit Techno Disco and was distracting from a quiet and peaceful dinner." Tasting Table describes the space as being "as boldly designed as its five older sisters," with "saffron walls longer than your apartment" and "flowery white lamps suspended from a carmine ceiling." Zagat also elaborates on the "Design Within Reach-like light fixtures," but Eater commenter DH94114 says "The lighting is just awful. Were they trying to match the atmosphere of Pakwan?"
The Cocktail News: Tasting Table suggests begging "the bartender for one of the crazily perfumed paan shots (puréed betel leaf, fennel seed and rose water) the servers give dinner guests." Yelper Kyle K. thought the cocktail list was "was eclectic and creative." He also chatted it up with Lisa, the bartender, who informed him that cocktails "were made with roasted Indian Spices!"
Have a different take on Amber Dhara? To the comments!
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