At this Burlingame spot, you will find a refashioned brighter interior, an added parklet, a new menu and name change, and owner Ajay Walia no longer greeting you in a sharp suit, but casual shirt and slacks.
In June, Walia closed his former Michelin-starred, fine-dining Rasa on this property, and morphed it into the second outpost of his Saffron (the original is in San Carlos). It was a difficult decision, he says, but one necessitated by the challenges of the pandemic.
Yet despite the transformation, Walia doesn’t believe anything is radically different.
“We’re still buying the same ingredients, and cooking with the same standards,” he says. “The only thing that has changed is people’s expectations.”
Indeed, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant last week to dine outside, I found the food as delightful as ever.
If Michelin one-starred Rasa in Burlingame is the glam, attention-getting younger sister, then Saffron Indian Bistro in San Carlos is the dependable, dutiful older sister.
Before opening Rasa in 2014 to universal acclaim, restaurateur Ajay Walia debuted his first restaurant, Saffron in 2002.
It’s been quite a few years since I last ate at Saffron. But when I was invited in as a guest recently, I had a chance to see its evolution.
It still specializes in North Indian dishes. But the restaurant has definitely upped its game in the presentations. No doubt younger sibling Rasa had an influence in that.
Easy to get to on San Carlos Ave.
The dining room was nearly full later on that night. A steady stream of to-go food was picked up by patrons, too.
Moreover, three years ago, the dining room got a refresh. Before it was rather utilitarian. Now, the lights are dimmer, creating a warmer vibe. The walls are painted crimson and gold, and a contemporary chandelier casts a glow.