Tuesday, April 26, 2005

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).

photograph picture of Slaimar restaurant on Jones San Francisco

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!

photograph picture of wine decanter filled with faux rose

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.

Indian Curry and Spice Week logo

posted in and and and and
Shalimar - Tenderloin - San Francisco


  • At 26/4/05 08:19, Blogger Amy Sherman said…

    I like the naan at Darbar ONLY when they are super fresh. When fresh they are tender and crispy and just as good as at Shalimar. I have had them when they aren't fresh unfortunately and they beome dense and too chewy.

  • At 26/4/05 09:37, Blogger Jennifer Maiser said…

    I have the same issues. I actually haven't been to the Tenderloin Shalimar (which I have been told is far superior to Polk street) but I am always debating between Darbar and Shalimar. In fact, one day I picked up a couple things from Darbar (sarson ka saag, chicken murgh masala) and a couple things from Shalimar (chana masala, tandoori lamb chops) and went home and had a feast. But of course, naan doesn't travel 10 feet.

  • At 27/4/05 07:20, Blogger Sam said…

    Amy - I need to try out Darbar a few more times - to hit it at 'good naan hour'.
    Jen - I think Shalimar on Polk is better than the one in the 'loin. I have eaten at both several times. Definitely on the naan side, Polk location has won out for me. I also love the Shalimar lamb chops, but I haven't tried the Darbar version yet.
    More investigating and comparative to do...

  • At 27/4/05 22:33, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    shalimar's specials are the way to go ive found -- ask them if they have haleem (lentils and lamb cooked together for a loooong time). theirs is one of the best ive had.

  • At 27/4/05 23:06, Blogger Sam said…

    we need to have a comparative chowdown.
    thanks anon for the 'specials' tip.
    it's a shame they dont make that so clear

  • At 26/6/08 14:22, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am blown away that you managed to go to Shalimar and pick out the bad food. I always order murg shahi, and ask for "mixed vegetables" which are not on the menu, and not always available. Last time, they pulled a pan from THE FLOOR (yes, under the stove, where the mice are) where the vegetables dish was kept. Ohhhh, wonderful. Also, the tandoori chicken comes with the crispy garnish you were missing.

    My mouth is watering. I live in London now, where the Indian food is crummy. Balti my arse!


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