Nosh on the town: Ajanta on Solano Avenue

Come along with Nosh as we explore East Bay restaurants in photographs. This week we focus on Ajanta restaurant in Berkeley. Chef Lachu Moorjani began offering a tasting menu in the winter. It costs $27 — or $24 for the vegetarian version — and must be ordered by everyone at the table. Moorjani shifts the menu, representing the “best of the best” at Ajanta, slightly each month. (Ajanta invited Nosh to come check out the new menu, and provided the food pictured here free of charge.)

If you’ve tried the spots we feature, please let us know about your experience in the comments below. If you’d like to submit your own photo gallery for consideration from a meal you enjoyed, please email nosh@berkeleyside.com for more information. You can also add photographs to our Flickr group. (Scroll down for captions. Photos by Emilie Raguso.)

(1) Lachu Moorjani, owner of Ajanta. (2) Appetizers in the chef’s tasting menu, portion size of three. (3) Tandoori chicken chaat. (4) Tandoori scallops. (5) Portobello mushrooms. (6) Main dishes in the chef’s tasting menu, served with basmati rice and naan. (7) Lamb rib chops. (8) Chicken mulligatawney. (9) Green fish curry. (10) Achari baingan (eggplant). (11) Carrot pickles, mango chutney, hot pickles. (12) Roses and ribs. (13) Kulfi. (14) Gelato (right) and kulfi. (15) The March menu. (16) The dining room. (17) Ceiling light boxes. (18) Entrance. (19) Ajanta on Solano.

Related:
Nosh on the town: El Gusano in Old Oakland [03.05.13]
Nosh on the town: FIVE restaurant [02.26.13]
Nosh on the town: Haven [12.20.12]
Nosh on the town: Hopscotch [12.07.12]

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  • africaliving

    This is one of the worst Indian restaurants I have ever been to in my life. Everything is entirely too bland and watered down. I really do not get the hype. But I respect the chef for figuring out what the locals want and demand, they must have gotten something right for their white clientel.

  • bingo

    I enjoy the food and find it sapid and vibrant. It is not “house of curries”, if that’s your interest. I’m not judging, as I really need the big pile of paneer tikka masala on some winter nights when the mood strikes. I’m just puzzled by the “bland comment”–what’s your favorite indian restaurant in the bay area? I’d love to compare.

  • susie

    Wow, I’m surprised at the previous comment. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t LOVE Ajanta. Before kids, we used to go there several times a month, since 2 kids, don’t get there nearly often enough. In the 10+ years eating at Ajanta, never had a bad dish at this delicious and friendly restaurant.

  • Guest

    I agree: I strongly suspect that Ajanta are serving the Indian equivalent of the blandified Mexican food that is served all over the US – typical Americans just don’t want the real thing. As for Bingo: I sort of like Vik’s, but I suspect them of using MSG. An Indian colleague tells me that I must go to Fremont if I want good Indian food, and that there isn’t any around here.

  • bingo

    Vik’s is really excellent. I love it. I didn’t know to head to Fremont–thanks!

  • guest

    Is this one of those Lakireddy places? I don’t want to support human traffickers…

  • guest

    re: Is this one of those Lakireddy places? No

  • guest

    Well then. I will be happy to try it!

  • emraguso

    Worth noting, this place has four stars on Yelp, with 365 reviews. It was listed as the best Indian restaurant in the entire Bay Area in the 2013 Zagat guide, with a 27 food rating, followed by Chutney in SF (26 rating); and then All Spice (South Bay), Vik’s and Lotus of India (North Bay) with 25s. Take it or leave it. I personally have never heard anyone complain about what the first commenter said. I’ve been there a few times recently and it’s been packed.

  • Guest

    My husband and I have been going to Ajanta for years. Every once in a while we will give another Indian restaurant a try, from Breads of India to Amber India etc etc. We always come back to Ajanta. I have the cookbook and have made more dishes from that book than any other I own. Fabulous book for anyone wanting to get acquainted with Indian food.

  • terry94705

    We were so sorry when Lachu moved from our neighborhood to Solano many years ago. We ate there twice a week when his New Delhi Junction was up over Fondue Fred! He really inspired me to learn to cook regional Indian foods!

  • Glottal Stop

    White Clientel? I think racist comments should not be allowed on this site, especially if the racist in question cannot spell. Oh, but I guess he was using one of those BIG words.

  • africaliving

    This restaurant is well known as a spot that caters to a particular demographic, which is fine especially given the location. But there is no comparison to the popular Indian spots in Fremont or San Jose that are full of South Asian fans. See some of the less enthusiastic yelp reviews on Ajanta. http://www.yelp.com/biz/ajanta-restaurant-berkeley#hrid:u7e3qE3JuZGbZJJZF1KHbA

  • http://twitter.com/LauraMorland Laura Morland

    This is NOTHING like a Lakireddy place. However, if you know Berkeley well enough to know who Lakireddy is, then you’ve been depriving yourself for a long time of the BEST Indian food you’ll ever have the pleasure to eat. (They’ve been preparing delicious food at the top of Solano for about 20 years!)

  • http://twitter.com/LauraMorland Laura Morland

    IGNORE THIS COMMENT — IT’S OBVIOUSLY FROM A COMPETITOR.

  • http://twitter.com/LauraMorland Laura Morland

    I’ve been eating at Ajanta for about 20 years, and I entirely agree with you: it’s IMPOSSIBLE to have a bad dish here! When I must leave for long stretches of time, it’s one of the few things about Berkeley I truly miss. However, I own two copies of Lachu Moorjani’s cookbook, and so it’s possible to recreate some (not all) of his dishes. (They are labor-intensive, though, and some require a special oven that is much hotter than found in any home kitchen.)

    The dishes are all adjustable in spice, by the way, and so you can get them as hot as you like. I’ve found, however, that too much heat overwhelms some of the subtle flavors, and so I stic with “medium hot” myself.

  • George Paphitis

    I, too, remember fondly those days on Telegraph Ave. when a lady friend and I frequently ate lunches there, rushing from and to the Kaiser Medical Center where we worked. We got to know Lachu, and even took evening cooking classes he gave at Piedmont H.S.