Friday, October 20, 2006

Junnoon, Palo Alto

When we went to Junnoon on Wednesday night, I was a little surprised that the place was so packed. First, it was Wednesday (is that the new Thursday? which *was* the new Friday?). Second, I made my reservation on Open Table just a few hours prior, and it looked like there was quite a bit of availability for the evening.

When you enter the restaurant, there's a lounge/bar area that looks quite comfy. But the actual dining room -- at least when we were there -- had an awkward configuration to it. There were a lot of tables set up for 6-10 people, so maybe that's why it was so strange. A table of 3 was sandwiched between a party of 6 and a party of 10 (or so). What a miserable spot. Most of the tables for 2 were next to each other, with little room between tables.

But on to the food ...

Jon started with the Bombay Crab and Cod Cake, while I ordered the Minced Beef Patty. The cake was delicious, and had a lovely presentation on top of the mung bean relish. When my dish arrived at the table, I was a little surprised. I thought the patty was encased in puff pastry ... But what I got was a patty and some bread on the side. Hmmm. It turns out, I got the Velvet Lamb Kebob by mistake. D'oh. It was okay -- maybe it would have been better if I wasn't so looking forward to the Beef Patty. The lamb mixture was pan seared, but overall, too mushy for my taste. The flavors were nice though.

For our entrees, I had the Rice Flaked Sea Bass and Jon went with the Junnoon "Kaathi" Roll with chicken. I loved the crispy rice topping on the Sea Bass, and the fish itself was moist and flaky. The best way to describe Jon's was: chicken, wrapped in an omelet, wrapped in "paratha" bread. The thing was a monster, but it was so tasty, he ate it all up.

I absolutely love Mango Lassi -- it may be my favorite thing at most Indian restaurants -- and Junnoon serves a version that also includes Passion Fruit. It was so yummy, I had to order two.

Except for delivering the wrong appetizer to me, the service was fine throughout the night. I was too full (damn Mango Lassis!) to try out any of the desserts, but upon glancing at the menu, none of them really stood out to me as must-tries.

Around the same time that Junnoon opened up (in February), another upscale Indian restaurant arrived on the Palo Alto dining scene: Mantra. I'd be interested to check out that place soon to see if the food is as good as Junnoon's.

150 University Avenue
Palo Alto, CA
(650) 329-9644