Avatar’s matches dishes to customers’ needs


Irina Malyugina

Kumar and an employee chat with a customer. The restaurant is named after Kumar’s late brother-in-law, Avatar Ubhi.

by Prameela Kottapalli, Winged Post Editor-in-Chief

There’s a restaurant in Sausalito, CA, on the bottom floor of a grey building. To the casual passer-by, the exterior appears to be a nondescript storefront, a blue overhang sporting the establishment name– Avatar’s– in unassuming block letters. But those who take a closer look bear witness to the magic beyond the glass doors: the golden glow of low-hanging lights over wooden tables, the tiny waiting room packed with hungry customers and the dining area filled with mouthwatering aromas and hearty laughter.

“We have locals, we have people from all over Sausalito, and we have people passing through,” restaurant manager Ashok Kumar said. “Look at this environment, it’s the best possible community. We love people, and people love this. It’s that simple.”

Run by Kumar’s family, Punjabi immigrants who came to Marin County over 30 years ago, Avatar’s Restaurant specializes in “healthy California Indian fusion food.” The restaurant provides visitors with a plethora of lighter alternatives to classic Indian comfort cuisine, and its menu is friendly to all dietary needs.

“Everything was organic, low–fat, and everyone can eat here– if they’re vegan, low sodium, no dairy. We’re trying to create something healthy that everybody loves,” Kumar said. “Thirty years ago we didn’t need to know what type of clientele we were going to get, but we were insistent upon the idea of organic, all natural, and healthy food.”

Gluten-Free Vegetarian Samosa Plate
Spicy, savory, and utterly delectable, these vegetarian samosas–north-Indian style vegetable dumplings–hit just the spot. The instant my teeth sank into the crispy corn flour coating, a kaleidoscope of hearty flavors suffused my mouth with the warmth of an Indian kitchen. Samosas, traditionally, are deep fried in ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil, but Avatar’s pan-fried take on the South Asian favorite provides a healthful twist to the comfort-food-classic.

Punjabi Enchiladas
Avatar’s premise does not only encompass healthful comfort food. It also revolves around food fusion, mingling the spices and staples of ethnic cuisines to form a delicately delicious balance of flavors and ingredients. And the restaurant delivers on this concept, particularly through its Punjabi-style enchiladas (which happen to be the most highly recommended category of dishes on Avatar’s 5-star Yelp page). My personal favorite is the vegan sweet potato enchilada, an eclectic combination of spicy, savory and sweet.

Rose mango dreams
A food fusion favorite of restaurant regulars, this generously-portioned dish–a tropical take on classic ravioli–is filled with freshness and flavor. A full-bodied blend of creamy herbed ricotta and tangy mango pulp fills these heavenly pasta pillows drenched in velvety alfredo sauce. While it may seem like one of the restaurant’s richer options, the dish retains Avatar’s signature lightness.

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on Aug. 31, 2018.