Kokila's Kitchen in Cupertino?
Kokila's has garnered mentions for dhoklas and paan. The cuisine is Gujarati vegetarian. What's good here?
20956 Homestead Rd Ste H
Cupertino, CA 95014
Seeing your post, I went and gave Kokila's a try. Just a warning, they're not open on Monday's. Ask me how I know. ;-)
Dinner appears to be buffet service only. At least it was that way when I got there at around 8 p.m. last night. The place wasn't busy then, but by 8:40 (20 minutes until closing time), it was hopping. The dining room comprises 11 four-tops.
To start the buffet, you either grab a metal thali platter (already loaded with 3 small bowls) or white plastic plates and bowls.
Now my ignorance of Indian cuisine and Gujarati comes to the forefront. Most of the items were not labeled, so I cannot comment on them by name. Things that did have names were: basmati rice, daal dhoki, mung dal, mansoor dal, Gujarati-style kadhi, and navratan korma. Other things that were there were fried, hollow pinwheels (yeah, that's my description), some sort of fluffy cakes with a sour taste to them, mint sauce, naan, raita, pickles, and an odd dessert (to be described).
In general the food is spiced more strongly than some of the Indian restaurants that cater to the office crowd, to put it politely. Not that I minded. The clientele was almost exclusively Indian with the exception of one couple who came in for a vegetarian fix.
The kadhi was an interesting dish. I don't think I've had anything quite like it. It was described as a yogurt and flour soup with herbs and spices. It was quite creamy and served warm. Another patron poured his bowl of kadhi over his rice and ate it that way.
Several of the dishes were soupy, hence the bowls came in handy. There was another soup item that was made from short, very broad noodles. I ate is a soup. I really enjoyed this dish, probably because it reminded me of a spicy chicken soup.
The basmati rice was odd. Almost as though it was overcooked. It was very light and crumbled one touched.
There were small chunks of potato that baked or pan fried with a spicy (but not curry flavored) coating. I remembered them as the home fries to give them context.
Also available are whole young coconuts, $1.99 while they last. Served chilled and freshly hacked open, mine was a perfect accompaniment to the meal.
The Navratan korma was described as vegetables with farmers cheese. I'm not sure if I had it, although I had one dish of vegetables that had chunks of something that seemed on par with a dense dumpling in them.
Brought to the table are 3 whole wheat roti per person. This was the first time I 've seen roti in whole wheat. They were freshly fried and glistened of oil.
Finally, that dessert. It looked like chunks of gulab jamun with yellow corn kernels. Wrong. Whatever those kernels were, they sure weren't corn kernels cut from the cob. Still, it was a tasty dessert and one that I've never seen in all of the Indian buffets I've sampled.
Would I go back? Sure. At $7.99 a person, it's a perfectly reasonable deal.
I would not recommend going to the Shimbala Cafe which is a few doors down. I did that on Monday, to my regret.
Kokila's kitchen is open 11-2 and 6-9 Tuesday through Sunday. The telephone number is (408) 777-8198. Roti are available by pre-order 30 for $11. If you don't pre-order, prices go up. Pre-orders are available for pick up between 6 and 8 p.m. They also have smaller to go meals that can be ordered.
I would say that Kokila's is better and certainly has more variety. Actually, I was surprised that Kokila's and Annapurna served dishes that seemed so unrelated despite the contention that they both offer Gujarati cuisine. Mind you, that last observation is not made from many visits to either establishment!