Sakoon 357 Castro St., (650) 965-2000. L-D daily; $$. Reservations taken.
Named after the Indian word for "peace," this restaurant’s décor includes a hand-carved wall panel in the image of Buddha. Throughout, comfortable booths and banquettes line the walls, colorful fiber optic lights drop from the ceiling, and a riot of tiles draw the eye, and the unusually deep space stretches way back beyond the main dining room. Begin with a cocktail named for a Bollywood movie—perhaps the beautiful pale aqua Monsoon Wedding served in a champagne glass with a red sugar-dipped rim—but leave space for the global wine that compliments Indian spices (all culled from women winemakers, with $1/bottle donated to a breast cancer charity). A large selection of beer is also available. The menu’s uncommon uptown dishes and hail from throughout India and feature sophisticated spicing; they are described as “unlike any other in the Bay Area.” They include Kerala coconut curry with sea bass and scallops, basil chicken tikka, and rack of lamb with a lavender-thyme-spice pear chutney and spectacular mashed potatoes flavored with mustard and curry leaf and dotted with crunchy nuts. Part of the delight is just perusing the seasonally-changing menu.
Allow time before or after dining to browse the two bookstores, medicinal herbal shop, and humungous bead shop that are housed on the same side of the street.
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image courtesy of venue