7514 Girard Street, La Jolla
This is not one of those "curry palaces" where everything tastes the same. It is a beautifully decorated India palace, specializing in the delicate high cuisine of the North Indian aristocracy, cooked with an acute awareness of Californian values of freshness and clarity of flavor. (If you want the food made spicy, you'll have to ask for it; otherwise, it runs more to a nip than a blast.) The house specialty is fish tandoori, a miracle of impeccable timing, with the fish emerging moist, tender, and flavorful from the clay oven. (The same fish can be swathed in a sauce as Fish Masala.) Then there are the vegetable dishes, rich enough to turn a carnivore into a vegetarian without the carnie's even noticing -- the creamiest saag aloo (spinach and potatoes in cream sauce), the most luscious navrattan korma (mixed vegetables in a similar sauce with nuts and raisins). Even the desserts escape the ancient Curse of the Indian Sweets -- for the cleanest, lightest ending to a meal, a velvety house-made mango kulfi (ice milk), sprinkled with flecks of pistachios and flakes of ground cardamom seed, offers an exotic blast of cool fruit flavor.