Zareen’s (Palo Alto, CA) – I waited over half an hour in line for my food and it was worth it! Zareen’s brings Pakistani home cooking – like meals I would actually have at my house or a friend’s – to the peninsula. Initially, I planned to go to the Mountain View when it opened, but the line was already long, I drove out to Palo Alto. I should’ve just gone there in the first place because the line was so long and going into the farmer’s market!
The inside is an eclectic mix – there’s books around to encourage people to read (and keep you occupied in the line), there are traditional Pakistani kites hung, different poetic and humorous quotes, and truck art. It’s a nice change from the “traditional” .art and decor people like to have in their ethnic restaurants – like posters of their respective country.
My friend ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala meal: Charcoal-grilled boneless chicken in a tomato cream curry. The meals are served in a thali (sectioned metal plate) with rice, daal (lentils, salad, and chutney. You can also add naan to your meal for an additional cost. She really loved how tender and flavorful her chicken tikka masala was.
She also ordered Aloo Tikkis based on my recommendations. They are pan-fried potato cutlets seasoned with cayenne, lime, shallots, and cilantro. Served with mint and tamarind chutneys. I grew up eating aloo tikkis – they always taste great with rice or roti or bread. I thought Zareen’s tikkis were really salty so I couldn’t taste much else.
I ordered the Grilled chicken boti meal: succulent, flame-grilled morsels of chicken marinated with herb-spice blend. Tikka masala isn’t served much in homes; it’s usually chicken pieces or a saalan (which is gravy). I really liked my chicken, it had that really yummy grilled flavor with the spices. I also accompanied it with a mango lassi and garlic naan – both of which are very American-South Asian inventions.
Overall, I had a great experience at Zareen’s! This was my first time dining in – and I didn’t mind waiting around. There’s so much happening and so much to look at in the restaurant that you’re entertained in the organized chaos.