Silicon Valley Chowdown: South Indian at Annapurna Snacks, Sunnyvale
Melanie sent out a last minute invite to lunch at Annapurna Snacks in Sunnyvale. A previous chowdown was for their Gujarati thali, but today was for their South Indian thali. This was a small chowdown (just Melanie and I made it), but since only one thali is served each day, we got to try everything that was available.
Annapurna isn't much for atmosphere, but it's not really a hole-in-the-wall. They have 5 or 6 tables in front, as well as a back section with tables for larger parties or banquets. The seating area was quite clean, and the thali came out quickly on plastic trays.
Today's thali included rotis, potato and green bean curry, dal with cabbage, papad (or a similar wafer) pieces, a sweet flour-y dessert, and 2 soups- one sambar-like with squash, and one with clearer broth. The thali was served with watery buttermilk (chass?).
Overall the food was very fresh-tasting and properly spiced, but I wasn't blown away, especially at the $9 price point. The food was much less greasy than is typical, and the owner came around with extra helpings of everything. There's a sign on the wall saying that roti is limited to 5 pieces, and it seems to be enforced.
I didn't walk away an Annapurna fan, but everything I tried was in the good, but not great category. My favorite was the dessert- small clumps of something golden brown and flour-y, with a nicely balanced sweetness.
Previous chowdown: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
Katya's (very) recent visit: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...
Hmm...I am South Indian and still trying to figure out why someone would pick Annapurna's over the great range, freshness and very reasonble price point of Saravana Bhavan (Sunnyvale) or Thirupathi Bhimas (Milpitas) in the South Bay for a snack, thali or al a carte feast (open for lunch & dinner!!)
In fact Saravana Bhavan is a chain back in India and they have locations all over the world. Truly a superior and authentic South Indian experience.
So, why would someone like you ever try Tirupathi Bhimas when Saravana Bhavan was already in this market? Probably the same reason I continue to explore this cuisine, the hope of finding something different, unique and maybe even better in quality. I really enjoyed an earlier Gujarati thali at Annapurna and wanted to return for the 2-day-a-week Southern cooking. Unfortunately, not as good on this side.
Tirupathi Bhimas is my favorite South Indian restaurnt. When I had some client work in Fremont, I would schedule my meetings to fit in lunch runs to Milpitas just to go to TB. Ate there 16 times in 4 months. I like Saravana Bhavan too, but don't crave it in the same way. The food at TB is so fresh with great clarity of flavor. Some of it is too spicy hot for me to eat, but I still love it. The thali at TB is $8.95 and has more variety on the plate, more interesting flavors, and clearly trumps Annapurna on this one.
Josh, thanks for putting up a post so quickly. The food was enjoyable, but didn't resonate with me the way the Gujarati meal did . . . although it seems Katya had a much different experience. It made me cross to see one of the compartments of the plastic plate empty, why not put a little podi or similar there?
Image of South Indian thali -