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Die, die must try Sunnyvale - Milpitas area

Making one of my rare trips to the south bay Saturday. Here's my list of to-try places featuring cuisines we either don't have in the SF-Berkeley-Oakland area or that are reportedly superior to ours:

Amber India*
Banana Leaf
Darda*
Dashprakash
Habana-Cuba*
Junnoon
Little Sheep
Mantra
Quang Da
Real Ice Cream*
Saravana Bhavan
South Legend
Swathi Tiffins
Tirupathi Bhimas (Milpitas branch)*
Zeni

*tried

Anything crucial missing? What should my priority be?

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  1. No Saravana Bhavan? This is my favorite South Indian style resto in the SF Bay Area. Way better than anything in Berkeley (at least that I've had). I then drive down the street to Lovely Sweets for sweets. I like their rasmalai.

    6 Replies
    1. re: choctastic

      Oops, I meant to include that.

      Can you compare Dashprakash, Saravana Bhavan, Swathi Tiffins, and Tirupathi Bhimas?

      Here's my report on Tirupathi Bhimas:

      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/35108...

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I'm afraid I can't help you all that much since I tend to stay at a place when I really love it, esp since like you I have to drive an hour to get there. what data I have on the other places is old. I haven't tried Swathi Tiffins because nobody ever told me it was a "must go". I will say that SB has terrible service, horrible crowds but great (and v. spicy) food. Their sambar is my fave. Rava dosa is crispy.

        Also, if you haven't been to that HC Noodle house (in Cupertino off Wolfe exit, about 10 min from sunnyvale) I think the xiao long bao there are a lot better than the Shanghai Restaurant's version that everyone on this board seems to like.
        .
        --oh yeah, have you been to chaat paradise? in mountain view. can get very busy though.

        1. re: choctastic

          I'd second chaat paradise. Went twice last year, remembered digging just about everything, and especially the hara bara bhel and the makke di roti.

          1. re: vinchar

            Not to mention the delightful chaat baskets and the lovely masala poori!

        2. re: Robert Lauriston

          Both of those restaurants, as well as Komala Vilas, are recommended by my Indian-from-India coworkers, and the food tastes like food you would get *in India*. But I think SB is a head and shoulder above in flavor. More refined use of spices and softer, fresher breads. My husband makes any excuse to run errands in the South Bay just so he can turn that into a meal at Saravana Bhavan.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            I've been to Dashapraskash, Saravana Bhavan, Swathi Tiffins, and Tirupathi Bhimas. I've only been to Saravana Bhavan once and remember liking it but it didn't stand out as amazing either, though I'd definitely go back. The others I've been to multiple times. I was never particularly impressed by Dashaprakash (more expensive and nicer atmosphere but food not better) and Swathi Tiffins (total dive which would be fine if the food was great, but it's not - it's quite oily).

            I'd rank them from best to worst:

            Tirupathi Bhimas
            Saravana Bhavan
            Dashaprakash
            Swathi Tiffins

            Other options for South Indian include Udupi Palace (everywhere in the Bay Area of course - but definitely skip their buffet) and Dosa Place.

            My favorite Indian options (best in each category is first):
            Buffet - Turmeric, Bombay Garden, Passage to India
            Off the Menu -Turmeric
            Chaat - Amber Cafe, Real Ice Cream, Chaat Cafe
            South Indian - Tirupathi Bhimas, Udupi Palace, Dosa Place
            Pakistani Grilled Meats - Shalimar, Kabab N Curry's (sic)

        3. I'd be interested in your opinion on Krung Thai (my fave Thai in the Bay Area so far) and on the Taiwanese places in the South Bay (esp ASJ, which I haven't been to yet). And if you're going to be down there on a weekend, do try the Northern Chinese breakfast dishes at China Stix.

          Based on several visits to Saravan Bhavan, and one visit to Dasaprakash (early on,right after they opened), I preferred Saravana Bhavan.

          I love Zeni. That should definitely be a priority.

          Banana Leaf is ok, not amazing.

          2 Replies
          1. re: daveena

            Zeni's pretty much at the top of my current ranking.

            Which Taiwanese places?

            How's Krung Thai compare with Thai House Express on Larkin in SF?

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Haven't been to either of these, but really promising reviews from tanspace and KK for:
              Ay-Chung Noodles
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/426604

              ASJ
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/399322

              I haven't been to Thai House Express yet... that's why I'm interested in your opinion on Krung Thai :)
              I remember reading that you thought Soi 4 is almost as good as THE, and I know that my friend thinks Krung Thai is better than Soi 4, so I'm guessing Krung Thai may be close to if not as good as THE.

          2. I would like someone else to try Spice Route. Great chicken dishes, Achar, Butter and Chilli. Good naan. Pretty rare combination of good indian food, service and ambiance.

            -----
            Spice Route Pan-Asian Grill
            400 Valley Way, Milpitas, CA 95035

            1. Hi Robert, that's my home turf. Your list didn't mention the following places, I wonder if they might be of interest. Have had (usually many) very good meals at each.

              ABC Seafood, 768 Barber Lane (in Ufferts Center, frontage road off 880), Milpitas -- Quality dim sum with unusual menu items, couple other ABCs scattered around

              Afghani House, Sunnyvale (408 248 5088) -- Maybe best of three related peninsula Afghan places with grilled skewered meats, lots of appetizers

              Café Marcella, Los Gatos (408 354 8006) -- European brasserie, things like grilled pheasant and wine by the glass

              Chelokababi, Sunnyvale, ECR at Wolfe (408 737 1222) -- Persian, long-time, has following

              Chez T. J., downtown Mountain View (650 964 7466) -- High end, leisurely experience, in a house, one star Michelin

              Fatima (recently moved) or other of the good Muslim-Chinese places

              Le Petit Bistro, Mountain View near PA (El Camino/Shoreline) (650 964 3321) -- real French neighborhood bistro, moderate prices, French family

              Tamarine, downtown Palo Alto -- elegant Vietnamese, eclectic wines, think I'd take it over Junnoon despite latter's publicity

              3 Replies
              1. re: eatzalot

                Except for Muslim Chinese, I think those all serve kinds of food that I can get closer to home.

                1. re: eatzalot

                  Here's a link to my post on Fatima in Cupertino, what do you recommend?
                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/399029

                  -----
                  China Stix
                  2110 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95050

                  Zeni Ethiopian Restaurant
                  1320 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

                  Junnoon
                  150 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                  Fatima Restaurant
                  10125 Bandley Dr, Cupertino, CA 95014

                  Hu Chiang Dumpling House (moved
                  )10877 N Wolfe Rd, Cupertino, CA 95014

                  Quang Da Restaurant
                  348 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95112

                  Krung Thai Restaurant
                  640 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128

                  Krung Thai Restaurant
                  580 N Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128

                  New Krung Thai Restaurant
                  559 N Winchester Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95050

                  Krung Thai Restaurant
                  1699 W San Carlos St, San Jose, CA 95128

                  Madras Cafe
                  1177 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                  Hyderabad House
                  448 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                  Pho Kim Long
                  2082 N Capitol Ave, San Jose, CA 95132

                  Mantra Restaurant & Lounge
                  632 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                  Transilvania
                  330 N Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos, CA 95030

                  Athena Grill
                  1505 Space Park Dr, Santa Clara, CA 95054

                  1. re: eatzalot

                    But Tamarine doesn't = Junnoon. Mantra = Junnoon in price, style, and food. All three have decent food that can be obtained cheaper elsewhere, although with less stylish environs, service, and presentation. All depends on what you're looking for.

                  2. I'm surprised Banana Leaf is on there. It's fine for a "work near there lunch" or tried-&-true safe pick with group, but I wouldn't put on any "Rare trip to the other side of the Bay Area" list. Not saying it's bad (it was a regular when I worked near there), but spend your time elsewhere.

                    Since you've been to both Amber India & T. Bhimas, I would put something afgani at the top of priority over something southern indian, if you're ok going to Fremont out of your way. And also priority to Little Sheep (the correct one, not the fake one), and Hue dishes at Quang Da, though you really need a group to sample many things at either. That's me thinking what do you have to put at the top of priority given what you can't get in SF/EB and given you're coming down only 1 day. Oh and Nha Toi for northern style Viet, but I haven't been there lately and that's in SJ, not Sunnyvale or Milp.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Alice Patis

                      Can you clarify "not the fake one" re Little Sheep? I've only been to one -- I didn't realise there was a real and a fake one -- and I've always found it to be really good. It's right at the junction of Decoto and Alvarado-Niles. Is that the real one? :)

                      P.S. Try the Mongolian beef pancake. Yum!

                      1. re: mavjop

                        Wow, I posted this so long ago I needed to search around to look up which one/where the fake one is. Good thing I found K K's old post talking about it:
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/426884
                        The fake one is (was?) in Milpitas, it used to have "Little Sheep" in its name but has since changed its name. The one in Union City where you went is the real one.