I’m not big on Indian food (I just feel it’s mostly curries and dried-out tandoori), but I’m always open to try it occasionally to see if someone can change my mind.

My friend Vera eats Indian food often, and she’s a big fan (like many others) of Vik’s Chaat and Market in Berkeley. The longtime Indian fast-casual restaurant moved to its current larger location a few years ago, and consistently packs it in as people try its chaat, which is road side snacks back in India.

Market + Chaat House
The restaurant, which is more like a fast-casual cafe, is behind a small Indian grocery store. If you feel inspired to make Indian food at home, you can always drop by the market on your way out and pick up needed ingredients.

I couldn’t really wrap my head around the organization of the chaat house, while Vera, a regular, thought the layout was ingenious. You order your food at the checkout, but you don’t get a number. Instead, you wait till they call your name. The problem (at least to me) is that the food doesn’t come out all at once. It comes out when it’s ready, and you go up to a particular line depending on what kind of dish you ordered.

Cholle bhature is like a big puffer fish. This airy bread starts to deflate at the table and you rip it apart and dip it in a sauce

Cholle bhature is like a big puffer fish. This airy bread starts to deflate at the table and you rip it apart and dip it in a sauce

But when they call your name, you really don’t know which dish you ordered is the one that’s ready. So you have to always ask the person behind the microphone what exactly you’re picking up. Since we ordered a few dishes, I was up and down at our table several times. It’s a real workout.

Street Snacks
We tried a few traditional Indian street snacks, including Vera’s favorite – the dahi batata puri ($4.50). these shell-like pastries are filled with yogurt and mint and generously drizzled with more yogurt and tamarind chutney. How this can be eaten in the streets of India, I don’t understand. They just look like a mess, but I agree that this is the most unusual and tasty Indian street bite.

We also tried a big puffy air ball known as the cholle bhature ($6), which is like a big UFO slowly deflating, and regional favorite dosas (we had the masala dosas filled with potatoes, $6.50). At their core, these are basically a starch that’s served with dipping sauce. Again, not the most easy street food (apparently in India these are served on leaves that serves as the plate).

The Last Bite
The food definitely had fresh flavors, and were all hot since they were coming straight from the kitchen. We also ordered the special lamb dinner ($8.50), which had these incredibly tender lamb chunks in a curry sauce. I can see why these affordable dishes are popular in Berkeley, especially with the college crowd, but it didn’t make me a lover of Indian food. I appreciated some of the comfort foods like the potato dosa, but I don’t know if you get much diversity in the meal despite the extensive menu.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps
2.5snaps

 

Vik’s Chaat & Market, 2390 4th St., Berkeley, Calif. PH: 510.644.4432. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (till 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday). No reservations, major credit cards accepted. www.vikschaatcorner.com

Viks Chaat Corner on Urbanspoon

Dahi batata puri is a pastry shell filled with yogurt and mint. It's refreshing for the heat of India

Dahi batata puri is a pastry shell filled with yogurt and mint. It’s refreshing for the heat of India

Masala dosa with dipping sauce. The potato filling is comforting.

Masala dosa with dipping sauce. The potato filling is comforting.

Lamb dinner special is satisfying as a complete meal

Lamb dinner special is satisfying as a complete meal

A cook making fresh street food at Vik's

A cook making fresh street food at Vik’s

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6 Responses to Dining at Vik’s Chaat & Market in Berkeley

  1. Karen Tran says:

    I’m usually not a fan of Indian food either but a few dishes really have converted me namely Tikka Masala Paneer, Palak Paneer (spinach), Chana Masala. I’m working on a home version of Palak Paneer – still need to tweak the spice combination but so far it’s pretty tasty and healthy!

    • Ben Ben says:

      I don’t know any of those dishes you mentioned! But now I’m intrigued by the Palak Paneer. Why do you like it so much?

  2. Carolyn Jung says:

    Oh, I love those little puri. In fact, I think the first time I ever had them was at Vik’s. The flavors are addicting.

  3. arlene says:

    tandoori chicken isn’t always dry, I’ve had good luck with them & they are usually quite tasty!

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