Shalimar - Tenderloin - San Francisco
Shalimar 532 Jones St, San Francisco (415) 928-0333
Cooking in your own kitchen can make you go bananas! So instead of mixing, measuring, sauteing or producing a meal that is going to freak you out, have a wonderful dinner at one of the four Shalimar restaurants.
-The Shalimar Times, 2005.
Shalimar's large throw-away menu is fashioned like a newspaper. The front page lets you into The Shalimar Secret (fresh herbs, fresh produce, real spices, vegetables cut in even size pieces and crispy garnishes) and states their culinary philosophy (no frills, no nuevo cuisine, no substitutions to fit the local tastes).
I don't ever recall seeing a crispy garnish within these four walls, but if you want a no frills meal, Shalimar is certainly the place for it. Situated in the heart of the Tenderloin, it's not a dining location for people with no sense of adventure. It is probably not the best place for a romantic meal for two, either.
The interior is bright and stark. Fluorescent lighting ensures you can clearly see everything you are eating and everyone you are eating with. The menu is large, the prices are reasonable and the choices are plentiful.
On our last visit we tried a kebab that was dry, overcooked and none too appetizing, an unremarkable bhuna gosht curry that was thin and greasy plus a bengen bhujia eggplant dish that was too bland, oily and reduced to a mushy pulp.
Disappointed? Yes we were. And since discovering Darbar with its superior dishes, it's unlikely we'll back. Being cheap is a draw, but Darbar is about the same price and just has more overall appeal.
There is one caveat, however. Shalimar's naan breads are far superior to those at Darbar. Served whole, these enormous breads have just the right amount of blistering from the hot clay oven balanced with soft chewy dough. Yum!
Shalimar has another location on Polk Street, directly opposite Darbar. I wonder what they'd think if, as well as bringing in our beer in a brown paper bag, we smuggled a couple of our favourite Shalimar naan into Darbar? Or maybe we should set up a table in the dead centre of Polk Street and try ordering the best dishes from each of these great value little restaurants.