On our second day of our recent vacation in Palo Alto we found an interesting place for lunch. Tava Indian Kitchen is the Chipotle of Indian restaurants. While there are an ever-growing list of counter order assembly line style restaurants, this was almost exactly like Chipotle, down to even the three main ordering types: Burroti (their version of a burrito using a whole wheat flat-bread), rice bowl (with Basmati rice), or salad bowl (on Romaine lettuce).
Once your selection is made, you move on to the protein choices. In this case either chicken, lamb, or paneer (Indian farmer’s cheese made in-house and tossed with garbanzos). From there you can pick between a tikka sauce (smooth tomato) or daal (hearty lentil).
Once you have your protein and sauce it is time to select a chutney whether it be mild (yogurt sauce with cucumbers), medium (cilantro and lime), or hot (tongue-tingling mint). You can then add lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and chilies.
I went with a Burroti stuffed with chicken, tikka sauce, hot chutney, and most of the toppings ($6.99). I wouldn’t say that it was stuffed quite a full as my normal Chipotle burrito, but the serving size was plenty adequate. The flavor combination was overall good. The Burroti wrap doesn’t hold up as well as a tortilla normally does, which made it a little messy toward the end.
My wife went with the rice bowl served with chicken, half of each sauce (tikka and daal), with mild chutney and most of the toppings ($6.99). The idea was that our toddler aged son could eat some too. I had a bite of the daal sauce, and was glad that I went with the more flavorful tikka on my dish. With that said, the rice dish was probably the better way to go as it was much cleaner and easier.
We also had a side order of the garlic naan chips with the medium chutney ($2.49). I’ve had naan chips like this before served as an appetizer in other Indian restaurants. I don’t really care for the mostly bland chips, and feel that an in-house recipe would be a lot better. Definitely skip these until improvements are made.
My one big regret is not trying the paneer. I would definitely give that a try the next time. Overall the concept of this restaurant is pretty creative, but I think it needs a little more polishing to really shine. With that said, it is still a great spot for lunch. However the space is very small, so perhaps it is best when taken to go and eaten at home.