The story of Lasan on Fillmore is a love story. It’s the tale of a chef who founded a successful San Francisco restaurant, which he then had to sell to deal with family health concerns. He then reopened in a new location, and is now serving his traditional northern Indian recipes to the delight of his Cow Hollow neighbors.
Lasan owner and chef Partap Singh owned Indian Oven on Haight Street, voted best Indian restaurant by SF Weekly, The Bay Guardian, and San Francisco Magazine during its 12-year run, and which he closed in 2006. At Lasan, Singh has expanded his tandoori offerings in addition to many reasonably priced classic Indian dishes, and is committed to using natural, organic, sustainable ingredients.
“I’m very proud of the fact that Lasan is part of the “never ever” program serving free-range chicken, naturally raised and grass-fed lamb and beef that is never treated with antibiotics, hormones, nitrates, or any other chemical additives. And in our many vegetarian and vegan dishes you will find local, organic produce.”
CONTEMPORARY AND COZY
Lasan’s interior is a mix of a contemporary bar with big-screen TV and a homier dining area, with sturdy chairs upholstered in burgundy and gold and cream-colored walls appointed with colorful Indian folk paintings. In addition to a wide variety of traditional and craft beer and hard cider, there is an extensive offering of domestic and imported wines. The wine list is appealing, with a thoughtful description of each varietal, and several Indian wines, which offers a rare opportunity to try something different. On Wednesday evenings, Lasan features all glasses of wine for half off.
DON’T MISS THE CHUTNEYS
Lasan’s menu is long but neatly broken into chapters: appetizers; tandoori dishes; vegetarian, chicken, lamb, seafood, and rice entrées; flatbreads; accompaniments; and desserts. Appetizers include papadum, lentil wafers flavored with black pepper and cumin ($3); and a variety of spiced vegetable, chicken, or seafood pakoras, or fritters, such as the baingan with eggplant in a chickpea batter ($6) and the Bombay with crisped, spiced calamari ($9). There are also samosas and chana, spiced russet potato and pea dumplings over chickpeas ($6) and tamarind and ginger chicken wings ($7).
All appetizers are served with four house-made chutneys: tamarind with plum, brown sugar and spices; mint with house-made yogurt, cilantro, jalapeno, and green onion; mango with golden raisins and spices; and creamy lemon with homegrown lemon that is pickled and preserved with jalapeno and spices. Incorporating sweet, spicy, and tart, these chutneys are difficult to stop eating.
TANDOORI, VINDALOO, AND MASALA
Tandoori dishes from Lasan’s traditional charcoal-burning clay oven include sea bass, fresh and tender in a house-made spice blend ($18); chicken marinated in yogurt and spices ($13); tiger prawns served over sizzling peppers and onions ($14); boti Australian lamb kebab marinated in yogurt and ginger ($16); and a mixed tandoor including chicken tikka, prawns, sea bass, and lamb ($21).
Chicken, lamb, and seafood entrées are varied and include such standby dishes as chicken tikka masala with seasonal vegetables in a tomato and yogurt sauce ($14); chicken madras in a coconut, tamarind, and golden raisin sauce ($14); lamb vindaloo in a traditional spicy and sour sauce ($15); and Goan fish curry in a coconut, tamarind, mustard seed, and curry-leaf sauce ($16).
Vegetarian options include bhindi masala, okra sautéed with whole cumin and onions ($12); baingan bartha, smoked and sautéed eggplant with tomatoes and onions ($12); and Navratan (“nine gems”) korma, seasonal vegetables in a creamy reduction of fruit and roasted nuts ($13).
RICE, FLATBREADS, AND SALADS
Choose from the pulao, simple brown rice or basmati rice with peas ($3) to a variety of biryani, mixed-rice dishes such as chicken biryani ($14) or vegetable biryani ($11).
Naan, that addictive Indian flatbread, is freshly baked and comes plain ($2) or with garlic and basil ($3), to the more filling stuffed versions with dried fruit and roasted nuts ($4) or goat cheese, black cumin seeds, bell pepper, and ginger ($6).
Multigrain roti, unleavened bread made from wheat, flax, and barley is also available ($2) along with an assorted breadbasket ($7). Raita, fresh yogurt mixed with cucumber and black cumin, ($4) and a salad with red onions, tomato, and cucumber in red wine vinegar ($3) are refreshing accompaniments.
SAVE ROOM FOR DESSERT
In the unlikely event that you have room for dessert, try kheer, cardamom-flavored rice pudding with pistachios ($4); mango crème brûlée ($6); kulfi, house-made pistachio-cashew ice cream with dessert noodles, edible gum, and rose syrup; or gulab jamum, a warm dumpling with cardamom syrup ($6).
Lasan: 3145 Fillmore Street, 415-346-4900, lasansf.com; daily 5:30–10 p.m.; bar open Friday–Saturday 10–2 a.m. for chicken tikka masala burritos.