Mountain View, Calif. — On busy Castro Street in the downtown area of this Silicon Valley city, there seems to be a never-ending appetite for good food. The high-tech lunch crowd keeps downtown buzzing.
And one Indian restaurant continues to pack them in. Park Balluchi, from the team that heads up the successful Chaat Bhavan chain, focuses squarely on solid North Indian specialties, with an extensive a la carte menu, a fired-up tandoor and one of Castro Street’s busiest lunch buffets.
Upon entering, one is greeted by a classical Indian bronze statue — the long, light-filled space is distinguished by five huge glass chandeliers and a bright red banquette across its north side. An extensive non-vegetarian buffet fills its southern end, and a colorful bar tempts diners near the entrance.
At lunch, the buffet ($13.99) is the most popular item, and runs seven days a week. It includes chicken and lamb dishes, vegetables, pulao, chaat, hot naan and a complimentary beverage — chaas, a savory buttermilk masala drink similar to salty lassi, is the perfect complement to Balluchi’s spicy dishes.
Castro Street is already home to several other Indian restaurants, but according to Deepak Shah, a partner in the restaurant cofounded by Gudawar Singh and Surjit Klair, there is no worry about competition. “We’ve never faced competition, with our uniqueness,” Shah told India-West on a recent afternoon. “People know the Chaat Bhavan group, and they have pre-set expectations.”
Where Singh’s three vegetarian Chaat Bhavan locations in Fremont, Sunnyvale and now Dublin have a fervent following among Indian Americans, Park Balluchi is targeted more at non-Indians and nearby high-tech offices, where Park Balluchi often caters large lunches.
Named in honor of the popular Park Balluchi chain based in Delhi, this Mountain View location, which opened in October of 2012, is not affiliated. But the restaurant does focus on North Indian specialties under the supervision of chef Rajinder Kaler— Shah says some of its most popular dishes include malai paneer ($12.00) and satisfying Butter Chicken ($13.99, also included in the lunch buffet). Dishes may be ordered a la carte at lunch and dinner; a veg or non-veg thali combo is available at dinner.
A full bar offers cocktails such as a Ginger Mojito; newly added to the menu, too, are bite-sized Spiked Pani Puris made with vodka. The wine list includes selections from Napa and Sonoma.
Park Balluchi really shines in its catering, said Shah. Working out of a separate, spacious kitchen, they are able to create special event meal setups for hundreds of people, in locations as far away as Sacramento and San Francisco’s photogenic City Hall. The restaurant is also active with Indian nonprofits in the area, such as Pratham and the Sankara Eye Foundation, for which Park Balluchi catered the huge Sonu Nigam concert last May.
Joining the trend of catered “food stations,” Park Balluchi can also set up a tandoor, chaat station, dosas on demand and “Live Chana Bhatura” stations, said Singh.
What sets Park Balluchi apart from other Indian restaurants is its focus on quality, service and homemade-style food, said Singh. “You can eat it every day. It’s not heavy,” he told India-West.
Park Balluchi is open seven days a week and is located at 288 Castro Street in Mountain View, Calif. Visit parkballuchiusa.com or call (650) 960-1000 for information.