Indian Restaurants in South Bay: Amber

It’s high time I resumed the Indian restaurant series. At least Gary has been prodding me for long. And it’s good to blog about one of the best that we have — Amber.

It would be difficult to dispute its position as the best Indian restaurant out here. I should say that it’s almost on par with the top restaurants back in India.

There are actually 3 different ‘Ambers’ — the original and a new ‘Cafe’ version in Mountain View with another in San Jose. Amber India Restaurant was originally started in Mountain View about 12 years ago. My guess is that it has remained in the same place throughout — a nondescript strip mall on El Camino Real. But once you’re inside, you realise the class of the place. The ambience is good except that it’s a bit cramped, reflective of the location.

There’s a branch at the upmarket Santana Row. This one too is small but less cramped. Again, mirroring the environment, it’s a bit more classy and expensive.

I have been to each of these just once; so, my comments have to be considered in that light. Also, coincidentally, I went for a buffet at both locations. Food is good on the whole but the variety is possibly better on weekends.

The Amber Cafe near downtown Mountain View is for people who don’t want to go to a fast food joint or a high-class restaurant, crave good food and don’t mind spending a bit more. The dishes are limited but include some interesting combos and fusion stuff. They also feature weekend specials like biryani. The setting is nicely garnished with funny creations of a top Indian cartoonist.

At all three locations, I have always felt that the service could be better. In any case, if you want to try out Indian food, Amber is certainly a better bet. Without Americanizing the food too much, they still manage to keep it attractive for all.

One last point — Amber serves primarily North Indian fare. (Refer to my previous post for the broad definition.)

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