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“Authentic - if dirty and pushy equals authenticity.” 2 of 5 bubbles
Review of Kabana Restaurant

Kabana Restaurant
Ranked #326 of 692 Restaurants in Berkeley
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Families with children, Dining on a budget
Dining options: Dinner, Lunch, Seating, Takeout, Waitstaff
Santa Cruz, California, United States
Level Contributor
65 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 132 helpful votes
“Authentic - if dirty and pushy equals authenticity.”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 23, 2013

Let me preface by weakly claiming to know authentic Pakistani food. I spent a couple of summers in Pakistan and certainly got my fill of authentic food (mostly in a good way but some serious stomach related side effects too). Anyway I went to Kabana with a friend who had rave things to say about it. I got the chicken jalfrezi and chapati. It was pretty good, but not worth the reputation and I have to admit you can tell an inauthentic Pakistani restaurant by the lack of chapati. So at least that was a real positive.

However there were two glaring problems.
1.) Cleanliness - There was a large sack on onions on the bathroom floor. God knows how much stray urine ended up on those onions. I've definitely had some authentic Pakistani food in Pakistan that had a similar level of cleanliness. I once ate at restaurant where forks were re-used without being washed. Kabana is better than that at least.
2.) Service - I can handle inattentiveness and even slightly hostile personalities, but I really hate incessant pressure to buy more stuff that I don't want. It's like having a mosquito buzz in your ear while you are trying to eat. In my case I was given more chapati without me having asked for them. This made me think since I didn't ask for it, it wouldn't be charged. I was definitely charged for all of the chapati despite only ordering the 1st piece. I guess their thinking was that chapati is near costless to make, so they should really get me to eat a lot. There was also near overwhelming pressure to order drinks and sides which I wasn't interested in. The pressure to buy was pretty authentic I have to admit.

So to what do I attribute the success of the restaurant? The usual desire of Berkeley folks to be open minded and part of a select group that knows the truth. The restaurant may be unpretentious, but the folks singing its praises frequently are (they presumably possess a deep knowledge of authenticity and sophisticated palettes that render them capable of looking beyond the obvious shortcomings). Indus Village around the corner on San Pablo Avenue is quite a bit better in my book. Their lamb shank is very good.

  • Visited May 2012
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
Thank Nicholas L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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35 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    13
    14
    4
    1
    3
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
77 reviews
55 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Unpretentious and understated”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 25, 2012

Again a recommendation from someone who knows what good food looks and tastes like. Without the recommendation I probably would not have walked through the door as decor is clearly not a priority for the owner. However so glad I did. We shared tandoori lamb chops and tandoori fish, a super tasty channa dahl and a freshly cooked garlic naan bread - its a BYO so we brought our own wine. Great curry - really flavoursome worth a look if you are in the area

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
Thank Minty2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sacramento, CA
Level Contributor
85 reviews
34 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 58 helpful votes
“Very good 'Tandoori' food”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 30, 2012

The only thing preventing me from giving this place an excellent rating, is its cleanliness. That's a pity since the place is quite small that it should be an easy task to accomplish! The food itself was delicious and served in ample amounts. Next time will probably order take out!

  • Visited April 2012
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Food
Helpful?
1 Thank sr6266
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hollywood, Florida
Level Contributor
9 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
“Great kababs”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 7, 2012

It certainly isn't trying for a Michelin star. As a matter of fact, the restaurant is quite cramped, and they do not allow any alcohol. The best thing to do is to take out, and try their shammi kababs and paratha with a bottle of Bruichladdich. There, smokiness meets smokiness! When you order on the phone, tell them not to make the kababs spicy. They are fiery hot!!!

Visited December 2011
Helpful?
Thank OmniaDisce
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bozeman MT
Level Contributor
91 reviews
44 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
“First stop off the plane”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 4, 2012

This is the first thing we do when we fly in from MT, where there is NO ethnic food. OMG- this place is the best. The tandoori fish is a must. Gotta have the palak paneer, as well as the dal and the naan. If they have the goat curry, do it. If you get freaked out about things needing to be super clean, this may not be your spot. Great service, really nice people. Never miss going if you can!

Visited December 2011
Helpful?
1 Thank janeyd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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