The first time I heard about Juhu Beach Club was when I was yelping Indian places in the East Bay. Fed up with Vik’s Chat, all the horribly oily joints around campus and looking for something inspiring and who am I kidding, looking for real chai on my period, I stumbled upon Juhu Beach Club. In traditional Indian fashion, I will henceforth refer to this place as JBC.
I’ve been hesitant to review because this place had been my “little secret” for some time. They have odd hours so I showed up once when they were closed and from the exterior, I definitely thought it was a dance club. I decided to come back on my own one day, while hangry, because I was in desperate need of Pav Bhaji.
Since this love affair began in mid-2014, I’ve been here on at least 25 different occasions. Always for that $4 Strauss milk chai with a refill. That little brown cup of chai singlehandedly makes my mouth water. There is no chai, apart from the one I don’t have the facilities to make, that comes close. I came here the night before my 22nd birthday to ring in my happiness, by myself, with, you guessed it chai. I came here when I didn’t have money in my bank account but found 5 dollars, and yes, I had chai. I came here when my Australian friend was visiting and wanted me to show her the extent of my foodie knowledge in Oakland, needless to say we were both blown away. I’ve now started coming here weekly, with my group of desi friends – 1 from India and 1 from Pakistan- and give this place their stamp of approval.
Update – that brown cup of chai has since become a little too gingery for my taste. I had a lovely chat with Chef Priti (who by the way is one of the most hilarious and down to earth people I have met) and I think for the later half of 2015 leading into the early months of 2016, JBC lost a bit of its direction. I don’t think it will turn into the type of establishment that will rest on its laurels though and I full expect a resurgence of inventiveness sometime soon.
As I start sharing my little Oakland secret with people, I feel like I’m compromising my relationship with this place but also doing it the best favor – encouraging others to taste Chef Priti’s magnificence. But I’m also making my wait time at JBC longer. Decisions. But if last night’s treatment – they put up a table outside so me + my friends could sit out and enjoy the “beach” view – is any indication, my loyalty has demonstrated my patronage.
Without further ado (I’ve tried everything veggie on the menu except for the desi jacks only because my tooth is sensitive):
+ MASALA CHAI: 2 refills, 4 dollas and chump change. This shit will change your life.
+ BHEL SALAD: my favorite party trick, invite friends to this place, order this magic, and especially if they are desi, do your best Abhishek Bachchan impresssion and ask them if they have EVER HAD BHEL PURI IN A BLOODY MASON JAR. Ya, no they haven’t. And with added seasonal kicks like pomegranate, persimmon or nectarine, you have the winning recipe for in your mouth AWESOME. Side note, how is the mamra/puffed rice ALWAYS CRISPY??
+ Gobi Manchurian: The best iteration of Gobi manchurian since my cousin’s wedding in Delhi where I left the wedding to eat street manchurian because it smelled so damn good.
+ Sloppy lil Ps: infinitely tastier than their vada pav cousin. The bhaji is basically homecooked. And spiced perfectly and has never gone wrong. Although at $14 and with 3 lil Ps, I’m still slightly hungry. Vada pav is ok, somehow the potato isn’t as wonderfully spiced as I remember from India. The green chutney though; holy delicious batman.
+ Chili Paneer: Can we say locally sourced, organic, fucking delicious. Sorry aunties and uncles, this is not your average wedding chili paneer – somehow, without looking like anything I’ve seen before, this tastes like the chili paneer I’m used to but so much fresher, better and inspired.
+ Masala Fries: Think Indian Masala Uncle Chips but even better. These fries will make all of your Indian chip fantasies fresh and real life. Dip into the trio of chutneys, including the Maggi ketchup iteration of awesome that makes seasoned aunties trill with joy.
+ Service: on most days, excellent. When they are busy, like at any place, people can be a little short tempered but I think the trick is to just be a nice + communicative person and the staff is wonderful. I’ve seen some people walk in and act like straight assholes and want some sort of royal treatment. Y’all act with some actual manners if you want to be treated with some manners.
– Eggplant something or the other aka the only veggie “entree”: Not worth the money, interesting subji rice dish that somehow hasn’t cut the bill for me. It’s not bad, it’s just not…worth the money. I’d rather order a bunch of apps and cut out this basic dish.
– Masala lemonade: if you’re like me and have ever gotten sick from the chat masala lemonade people in India, you will not enjoy this. However it does taste authentic.
– Can we get some lunch on weekdays?
If I’ve missed a dish, let me know. I didn’t review the papadums because, well, it’s papad and I don’t review that shit + you can’t screw it up unless you burn it or bought it ransid. Also, I personally think it’s a little too expensive for papad. It’s a very white people offering, if you know what I mean.
All in all, tldr is this place is fantastical. Perfect for any occasions – be it time with bae, auntie, bhai or friends.