Gajalee, the Indian restaurant from the owners of Udupi Palace, takes you to the laid-back beach towns and rustling coconut palms of India's Malabar Coast. Recessed paintings of white-capped cerulean waves on the ceiling seem like skylights with an ocean view. Sitar music plays softly in the background. Steaming dishes full of unfamiliar flavors and ingredients arrive on silver trays adorned with banana leaves. In fish malvani masala, one of the restaurant's specialties, a pungent, complexly spiced coconut-based curry stands up to the strong, marine essence of tender chunks of sea bass, but never upstaged the fish itself. The same base is used in the shrimp thali, though here the kitchen's 28-spice curry blend is subtler and softer to play up the shrimp's natural sweetness -- more cinnamon and cardamom, less mustard seed and caraway. Other standouts include fried fish, puffy komdivade bread, and sol kadi, a kokum, coconut, and green chile drink whose pastel pink color disguises a flavor so strong that our waiter warned us against ordering it as first-timers.
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