Location: San Mateo
Favorite Restaurant: Aslam’s Rasoi
Reviewed Aslam’s Rasoi: Sunday, April 14, 2013
I was introduced to Indian food ten years ago and I have tried numerous Indian restaurants in the Bay Area, however my favorite food came from a particular restaurant I would frequent where Chef Mohammad Aslam was working his magic in the kitchen. I instantly became a fan of the father and son duo. While Mohammad cooks his family recipes, his son Asif runs the front of the house and does a little bit of everything, and despite the long lines and hungry crowds his demeanor is always pleasant and friendly.
To my surprise, the duo was no longer working at the restaurant which was disappointing because my palate missed their cooking. It was seven years ago that they opened Aslam’s Rasoi on Valencia Street and I was thrilled to be reunited with their flavors.
One of my favorite dishes is the Samosas which are puff pastries filled with potatoes, peas, cumin and other various spices. They also make the best chutneys to add to it (and to just about anything). One of the chutneys they have is the mint chutney which has mint, yogurt, Serrano peppers, cilantro and lemon juice. The other is the tamarind chutney which is sweet and has thirteen different ingredients including apricot and pomegranate. Combine all three and it’s a party in your mouth!
The naans are made to order and are cooked in a tandoori oven. My favorites are the plain, onion, garlic and goat cheese naans. The onion and garlic naans have chunks of fresh garlic and onions unlike other places that season it with onion or garlic powder. The goat cheese naan is stuffed with a generous amount of cheese.
Other favorites are the tandoori chicken, lamb chops and the chicken korma (or anything korma).
The tandoori chicken is marinated for twenty-four hours in seven different spices. The platter arrives sizzling to your table, the chicken plated on a bed of onions and bell peppers, with each piece of chicken juicy including the breast meat.
The lamb chops also arrive sizzling to your table on a bed of onions and bell peppers; each bite is flavorful and tender. The lamb chops are marinated for forty-eight hours in thirteen different spices with fresh garlic and ginger. The chicken korma is cubed white meat, also very juicy. The korma is cream cashew sauce with a touch of roasted cumin and fenugreek. The colors are vibrant as well as the flavors.
If you want to take a journey to Northern India with a little Pakistani influence, Aslam’s Rasoi is the place to visit. Everything is made fresh, all the portions are generous, and the customer service is outstanding. Although the restaurant is big and seats eighty-eight people, arrive early and be patient if you have to wait in line; it’s worth the wait. Or you can make reservations on opentable.com and you’ll be seated upon arrival.
Be ready for an explosion of flavors to take over your mouth!
Occupation: Horse Trainer
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Poesia
Reviewed Aslam’s Rasoi: Sunday, April 14, 2013
Aslam’s Rasoi is in a great neighborhood on Valencia so it has a mixture of hipster, hippie, yuppie and family patrons. Parking on the street can be tough but we got a meter spot after a drive around the block. The greeting at the door was genuine and lovely and the staff seemed really happy to welcome us, there was no wait for our table.
The interior to me seemed a bit drafty and dated but the restaurant and bathrooms were super clean and the kitchen, which you could see through a window, looked to be as well. The service however made up for the lack of atmosphere. Our server was fantastic and we had vegans, lactose free and gluten free diners; she made sure everyone knew which dishes would work for everyone. It was not crowded and easy to hear everyone at the table.
The Pinot was unimpressive but the beers were good and frosty cold.
We ordered a bunch of appetizers and mains so we could get a good feel for the food. The naan was good and plentiful. The gobi pakoras were light, chick pea batter and fried. They were not greasy and you still had a bit of crunch from the cauliflower. They were lightly spiced and the flavor was mild and enjoyable. The vegetable pakoras were also good and you had a nice mix of squash and other vegetables with mild spices which again were quite tasty. The samosas were good as well.
The papadums were great and the dried lentil flavor really came through.
The mixed tandoori grill was one of the standout dishes and all the grilled items were hot and flavored with different spices. The fish flaked apart nicely and had a great curry flavor and my meat-eating friends felt the lamb was tender and had just the right amount of spices. The chicken was moist and tender and also spiced nicely. The sauces that came to the table were perfect, with the yogurt and mint cooling while the red sauce was fiery hot.
The other dishes we were pleased with were the dal which had great flavors and the lentils which still had integrity. It was a beautiful dish; you could smell all the spices. I have found it’s hard to get dal without it being mushy yet this was not at all the case. The bengan bartha was also good although not as spicy as we had requested, however the flavors were good and the eggplant tasted great. The Kashmiri Biryani was unremarkable and didn’t have much flavor but the vegetable jalfrezi was quite good. It contained an interesting mix of baby corn, tomatoes, peppers and onions and was spicy and flavorful. It was served over some eggplant and spices; the mixture was interesting and tasty.
Aslam’s Rasoi had some interesting dishes and great service. I found it to be a bit generic and unimaginative but perhaps we needed to order better. The food was probably a “B” compared to encuentro which I would give an “A”. I gave Poesia a “B+” just for comparison. I might go back if I were in the neighborhood; the prices were certainly reasonable for the portion size.
Occupation: Health Coach and Nutrition Consultant
Favorite Restaurant: encuentro café and wine bar
Reviewed Aslam’s Rasoi: Friday, April 12, 2013
On a beautiful Friday evening in spring, we took BART from Oakland and headed to The Mission for some Pakistani food. Aslam’s Rasoi was an easy and pleasurable ten minute walk from the 24th Street station and we were greeted at the door by a friendly employee of the restaurant. Even though it was 6:00 pm on a Friday night, there were plenty of seats.
The food at Aslam’s Rasoi is freshly prepared, especially compared to other Pakistani or Indian food places. The bhindi masala, okra with red bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and spices, was bright, lightly flavored and delicious. This is a favorite dish of mine and I really enjoyed their take on it. Our other main dishes included saag paneer, fresh spinach with cheese, and aloo mutter, potatoes and green peas in curry sauce, and both were also very freshly prepared and lighter than the usual fare. We were also pleased that we ordered the mixed bread basket of garlic and basil naan, onion kulcha and chapati.
Although the food was fresh and tasty, there was nothing else that really made it stand out in terms of offerings or flavor. The servers never recommended anything or guided us on what to order. I also feel the food is a bit overpriced. The vegetarian dishes were all $10-13, which seems much higher than equally delicious Pakistani or Indian food elsewhere at upscale restaurants. The portion sizes were very good and since we ordered three meals for two of us, we were able to take home leftovers.
Their wine list is varied with good pairings for the spicier flavors of most Pakistani food. We ordered a Dry Gewürztraminer from Claiborne & Churchill for $35 and found it to be a good wine for our food choices.
Service was very attentive and friendly at Aslam’s Rasoi but also sometimes a little over-eager. We had at least three different people come to our table after we sat down but before we ordered. Although welcoming, it was also a little distracting and confusing. Once we ordered our food, the appetizer of fried eggplant pakoras came out fairly quickly but then so did the rest of our dishes. We were still half-way through our appetizer when our main dishes arrived, so I felt a little rushed to finish instead of enjoying the start of the meal. At the end of the meal, no dessert menu was given to us and there was only a brief mention of rice pudding, which neither of us was interested in eating.
The décor and ambience is more upscale without being stuffy and overall felt very inviting. This would be a good restaurant for both date night and larger parties. Overall the food was good, and although fresh, not exceptional in any other way from other more upscale Pakistani or Indian restaurants. We enjoyed our meal and dining experience overall, but would not go out of our way to eat here again.