Tabla, which takes over the space previously occupied by a short-lived Indian restaurant called Annapurna, specializes in biryani, the casserole-like combination of rice and other ingredients bound together in a flavorful curry sauce.
Tabla is a unique import: It's an independently held restaurant with two branches in California's Bay Area, in San Mateo and Foster City, that's opening a third branch in Texas. Srinivas Kommineni, who owns Tabla with a partner, moved to Texas because he had family here.
"I thought, 'Why not open here?,'" Kommineni says. Shortly after he began looking for space, he learned that Annapurna was moving out, and so it was on.
Tabla's menu is a comprehensive affair, with vegetarian and nonvegetarian sections, five desserts, and steamed rice cakes known as idli. There are also fine dosas, the long, crisp rolled crepes with fillings, and Indian favorites such as samosas, a dumpling filled with mashed potato and pea.
Biryani comes in nine options, pairing rice with ingredients such as fresh vegetables, eggs, goat, shrimp, fish, and paneer.
"But our chicken biryani is one-of-a-kind; you won't get this depth of flavor anywhere else," he says. "Our chef came to Texas and imparted his knowledge and ingredients. It's the spices, the preparation, that make it distinct."
Other things that might set Tabla apart from local Indian restaurants include Kommineni's plan to possibly serve beer and wine, and the fact that nothing on the menu is more than $10.
The restaurant marks its grand opening on June 9. "Tastewise, I think we are the best," he says.