Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The quest for a good 'South Indian' restaurant

K, V and I have been desperately seeking a good South Indian restaurant for the past two years. In our quest, we have visited (not necessarily eaten) at some interesting places. All have been in CA, except for the one I visited in Irving last week.

With all due respect to the restaurants dishing out Southie fare, you folks havent an iota of an idea of how to make good idli/vada/dosai. I'm sure all the ABCDs must sure be impressed with your fare, but for hardcore connoiseurs like V, K and yours truly, your idlis taste like thermocol, the sambhar gives gutter water a fair competition, and your paper dosai tastes a tad better than what else - PAPER!

In the same breath, I cannot but humbly request the 'woners' (read: owners) of the Saravana Bhavans and other 'Bhavans' to kindly refrain from serving up stuff like "Pollock" (read: Palak) Panneer and the like. Let's try and stick to our respective domains of expertise and experience. Fusion is good (undoubtedly), but like someone said, it often leads to confusion.

One of the no frills attached places I've been to is the Komala Vilas in Sunnyvale. This is a frequent haunt for desi dudes (and their spouses) after a tough morning's cricket in the vicinity. The coffee's really good, but the rest of the stuff wasnt up to the mark. Ah and one more thing - the cashier bills you Indian-style, on chits of paper!

We've attempted raiding the Saravana Bhavans in Sunnyvale and Cupertino on more than occasion - mainly coz of the name! On one occasion, there was a power outage in the Sunnyvale area (and we had to satisfy our hunger on some lousy Subway sandwiches), while on the other two occasions, we just couldnt get into the place.

A few months ago, we hit this place called Tirupati Bhima's in Milpitas. It's supposedly run by Sri Krishna Sweets (the naming funda still intrigues us), the famous makers of that lovely jilebi and mysurpa! The place had just opened and despite waiting for an hour, we couldnt find a table. But then we werent as aggressive as some of the Andhra folks there!!

Last week, thanks to Narayan's buddies RD and Mr. Balla (who I discovered was a couple of years senior to me in college) we ate an excellent buffet at "Rice and Roll" in Irving. It blew our brains out, and had our mouths watering. The vadas and dosas were out of this world. I think all of us gorged mainly on the vadas and dosas - tandoori chicken and lamb curry be damned! Ah, and we topped it off with some home-made mango ice cream. All in all, I wonder how we drove all the way back to Austin after such a heavy meal - hats off to Narayan!

I cut myself short here.....the crowning glory shall be revealed tomorrow! Till then will have to leave u well...smacking your lips waiting for tomorrow!?!?


Leon said...

I can say the same for the South Indian food in the Boston area...lol Nice post.

Jithu said...

reminds me of the frustration we had to find a south indian restaturant when we reached mumbai for the first time and the relief when we saw a mallu restaurant.. :-)

Soultan of Swing said...

leon...i'm sure every NRI has his/her own story about their travails looking for a perfect desi restaurant here....

jithu....mallu restaurants that ubiquitous eh?

Anonymous said...

Any Desi who has eaten in India will not like the food served in desi restaurents here. But come on don't be so hard. Some of it has to do with the produce as well. I have been to Komala Vilas, Tirupati Bhimas and Sarvana Bhavan. Don't know what is the big deal about Sarvana Bhavan. Dosas are much better at Bhimas / Komala Vilas. Udupi and Saravan Bhavan serves oily dosas which are no good.

kram said...

Just FYI. Tirupati Bhimas & Sri Krishna Sweets are two different firms. The families that run them are related by marriage. Thats what i heard. I guess they split rental & installation costs at Milipitas.

Anonymous said...

I agree! Also Udupi dosa gets stuck to the plate. Waiter just smiled and did nothing when I showed him half the dosa was stuck to the plate. Sarvana Bhavan uttappa was terrible last visit. I will go to Bhimas any day.
--Anonymous Foodi

Anonymous said...

I'm an ABCD and trust me I've never found a South Indian restaurant I liked. Then again it doesn't really matter, because my mom and aunties are here to make good South Indian food for me :)