Many things about Juhu Beach Club could serve as a reasonable tip-off to the restaurant's awesomeness — the bright, cheerful design; the playful, unfussy menu; the staff that seems genuinely, impossibly happy — but if you're looking for a perfect encapsulation of Preeti Mistry's ambition and imagination, there's no better place to look than the "Holy Cow" pav, one of the restaurant's five variations on the pav — India's answer to the slider, basically, in this case featuring a tender, smoky, cardamom-infused beef short rib and light, refreshing cucumber raita, sandwiched between two buttery Starter Bakery buns. Like everything at Juhu, it's casual but not sloppy, complex but not complicated, undeniably well executed, a little irreverent, and fundamentally unlike most of what you'll find on the menu at standard-issue American Indian places. Juhu is one of the best restaurants to open in Oakland this year, and it's part of a new crop of places that manage to hew to tradition while still feeling entirely modern; places that toy with and ultimately demolish our long-held ideas about authenticity; places that feel, in that ineffable way, so thoroughly East Bay it's tough to imagine them existing anywhere else. This isn't the kind of Indian experience you'll find at other restaurants, but why would you want it to be?
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