Vik’s Chaat Corner: Foraging For Indian Snacks in Berkeley

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Vik's Chaat Corner has been a Berkeley mainstay, but isn't static.

In the early aughts, my high school friend Ben lived in San Francisco, which led to plenty of trips north to explore the Bay Area dining scene. Our days typically involved at least four full meals, runs up and over the hills to clear additional stomach space, and not a whole lot of repeats. Still, a couple of restaurants commanded our repeated patronage, including a bare bones Berkeley warehouse near the freeway called Vik’s Chaat Corner, which up until that point, dispensed some of the best Indian food of my life. The Chopra family – Vinod, wife Indira, son Amod and daughter Shagun – eventually outgrew the original space they founded in 1989 and expanded into a modern building down the street. Years later, a road trip with Matthew ”Mattatouille” Kang offered an opportunity to return to Vik’s, and the street food nearly matched my early memories.

Restaurant Berkeley

Vik’s 2.0 features diamond-shaped windows and a dining room with a towering ceiling that hosts a network of 16 skylights.

Diners pile into wooden banquettes and stainless steel tables. Order at the counter, which forces you to walk past tantalizing colorful sweets (stay strong, or not). Then pick up your staggered order at different stations: chaat, bhatura, dosa and specials.

Restaurant Berkeley

Vik’s serves everything on compostable plates and bowls with biodegradable sporks. After all, this is Berkeley.

Indian Food Berkeley

To prepare Dahi Batata Puri ($4.25), staffers fill little fried bread shells with tangy yogurt sauce, tamarind chutney and garbanzo beans before treating the snack to a spice shower.

Indian Food Berkeley

Pav Bhaji involved soft buns and a spicy tomato curry packed with peas, carrots, cauliflower and crunchy raw onions. This dish offers lingering heat and reminded me of a vegetarian sloppy Joe.

Indian Food Berkeley

Lamb Baida Roti ($6.75) was the one dish that didn’t match my memory, a flatbread filled with minced, spiced lamb and paired with bright green (and brightly flavored) mint chutney.

In this case, the taava (griddle) didn’t work wonders and the roti was thick and un-springy.

Indian Food Berkeley

My favorite dish was the simplest, a plate of weekend only, spice-heavy Lamb Biryani ($6.75) accented with sweet fried shallots, aromatic cardamom pods, chunks of roasted potato and bone-in lamb. A dish this rich warranted a taming accompaniment, and we got it in the form of tangy, cucumber-studded raita.

Vik’s was already Stop Two on our Berkeley crawl, and Indian sweets simply weren’t possible.

Indian Drinks Berkeley

Vibrant Mango Lassi ($1.50) and muted, unsweetened Chai ($1) had to fill the gap.

It was interesting to see how Vik’s progressed in the past decade. Now that several dozen additional Indian meals are in my “book,” the food no longer seems so mind-blowing. Still, Vik’s is certainly high-value and well-spiced, and considering all the other enticing dishes that emanated from the open kitchen, a return trip is more than likely.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

So happy to see your coverage of Vik’s. This is definitely one of my go-to places when in Berkeley and Dahi Puri is my favorite street/snack food!

Wasima, glad to hear you also like Vik’s Chaat Corner. Have you eaten at Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se in Artesia? It would probably remind you of Vik’s, not in scope, but in terms of the menu items.

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