Savory Morsels

The Culinary Adventures of a California Girl

Sunday, June 11, 2006

***June 11, 2006: Vik's Chaat Corner***

Vik’s Chaat Corner
724 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA

Today I finally ventured outside of bhatura cholle. I was having a major Vik’s craving but for a number of reasons I needed to get my food to go and eat at home. From a previous take out experience, I have sadly learned that a deflated and cooled bhatura cholle (a huge puff of fried bread served with lentil soup and other sauces) wrapped in foil just doesn’t come close to eating it piping hot with a spork and huge pile of napkins in the extremely casual Vik’s warehouse. So, I decided to take this opportunity to try some of the weekend specials and a regular menu item outside of my old favorite. When I first walked into Vik’s I panicked, but I quickly calmed down when I realized that the new fancy blackboard with colorful chalk writing offers the exact same options as the old white board. My next obstacle was learning that the dhokla (steamed chickpea flour cakes) were sold out and having to quickly rethink my ordering plan. Since I had already sampled the dosa and a couple of the puri dishes on previous visits, I decided to order the pakori chaat, the chicken kathi kabab, the uttapam, a sweet rolled in coconut, and a fresh coconut (the cashier machetes the coconut in front of you and sticks a straw in it so you can drink the juice). I nibbled on my sweet while I waited for my order. While I loved the coconut, I couldn’t bring myself to finish the whole extremely sugary roll. Indian sweets are definitely an acquired taste that I haven’t learned to love yet.

The first thing I realized when I got home was that since everything was just thrown in the bag, I had no idea which sauce was supposed to go with what dish. I tried to piece things together from the Vik’s menu on their web site (, but I basically ended up deciding that they all went together and it didn’t really matter. My favorite dish ended up being the uttapam which was actually my last minute replacement for the dhokla. I only picked it because I thought I recognized the word from a chowhound posting and the cashier’s description sounded appetizing. The uttapam is a fairly thick pancake-like flat bread filled with tomatoes and onions that tastes amazing with the coconut chutney. It was spicy, sweet, flavorful, not overly greasy, and basically perfect. Seriously, it was sooo hard to stop eating the uttapam and make myself sample the other dishes!

I had trouble making up my mind about the pakori chaat (lentil dumplings with yogurt, tamarind, and mint chutney). The sauce had pretty much soaked through the paper tray by the time I got home and I had to transfer it into a real bowl. During the transfer I got sauce all over my hands (which of course I sampled) and I think tasting the yummy yogurt all mixed up with tamarind and mint chutney got me too excited. I ended up being disappointed by the almost soggy matzo ball texture of the lentil dumplings. Still, even after I had set it aside and moved on to eating more uttapam and the chicken, I kept reaching over and taking one more bite of the pakori chaat. I’d really love to try this dish fresh in Vik’s and see if the dumplings are less soggy if eaten immediately, or try something else with the complex yogurt sauce (which I think was the real strong point).

The final item was the chicken kathi kabab which was cubes of spicy chicken and onions wrapped in white bread and served with mint sauce. I often have trouble with Indian chicken dishes because I don’t usually like anything but chicken breast meat, but that really wasn’t an issue here. I found the chicken very flavorful but not fatty and a little too spicy but balanced out by the cooling mint sauce. I guess my only complaint would be that the bread was kind of greasy and too doughy for my taste. Once again this could be a problem that is corrected when the dish is eaten fresh or maybe I just want something that tastes healthy (which I’m not going to easily find at Vik’s!).

The overall consensus from my take-out experience is that it’s definitely worth it to sample as many items on Vik’s menu as possible. Furthermore, I think that at least some of the dishes travel well and, while you lose the eccentric atmosphere of Vik’s, take-out is a worthwhile option when you’re in a pinch. I don’t think that any of tonight’s dishes topped the bhatura cholle as my all time favorite, but I’ll definitely order all of them again when I’m eating in the restaurant next time. . . which could be next weekend when I go back to try and taste the dhokla!

**Note: Picture of the outside of Vik's is from***


Post a Comment

<< Home