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San Jose area best Indian, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Taiwanese

Okay, we are visiting my family in San Jose again for Christmas 10 days (they live there now but I'm not from CA). I don't want to eat in the same old places they know, and I'd like some international food that I don't get at home. New Hampshire isn't exactly diverse in any way, especially cuisine, you know!?
Any favorites for authentic South Indian, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, other regional Chinese or other Asian food you think is awesome? We are pretty adventurous eaters and I like the cheap dive authentic places where people originally from that country go to eat, as well as the upscale best places. I'd appreciate your detailed recommendations of where to go and what best dishes to eat, chowhounds! Thanks in advance...

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  1. Here's my current go-to thread for South Bay restaurants:

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/427295

    1 Reply
    1. re: daveena

      Wow, great thread! I like all the details on service, crowds, specific dishes and comparison arguments. Thanks so much.

    2. Vung Tau in San Jose is a great Vietnamese restaurant that's gotten lots of mention on this board.

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      Vung Tau Restaurant
      535 E Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95112

      1. South Indian at Tirupathi Bhimas in Milpitas or Saravna Bhavan in Sunnyvale.

        Malay at Banana Leaf in MiIpitas.

        1. For South Indian, my current go to place is Madras Cafe in Sunnyvale. Rava dosa, fresh crisp vadas & quick service are what I get there. Saravana Bhavan usually brings out vadas which seem to me have been sitting out for a while & that's a big no-no for me (otherwise, I love their dosas & chutneys). I went to Tirupathi bhimas about a year or so ago & ordered a rava dosa (my staple at S.Indian restos) & it was greasy & crisp like pappadum. I was too upset with having driven down from Menlo Park for this poor rendition that I didn't even complain. Just not ever going back.

          http://www.madrascafe.us/

          http://www.saravanabhavan.com/restaur...

          Not sure if you'd be interested in this but based on CH recs, Zeni Ethiopian restaurant in San Jose may be an option.

          http://zenirestaurant.com/

          7 Replies
          1. re: ceekskat

            Actually, my husband loves Ethiopian, I just didn't want to put too many cuisines in the request topic! So thanks for that too.

            I appreciate all the replies so far. Others please feel free to keep replying, I'd like your favorite dishes at your favorite restaurant for each type of cuisine and why so?

            Any Taiwanese? I lived in Taiwan for a while and would love some "ba-wan" or "ou-a jian", or Taiwan steet-vendor style potstickers with the open ends.

            1. re: starvinginNH

              Not in San Jose, but Ay Chung in Milpitas would satisfy the first two items, though not the greatest renditions or even close to the real deal (even though AC Milpitas claims to be a branch of the one in Xiemending Taipei).

              Guo Tie/potsickers, from tanspace's post/blog it sounds like E-noodle in the same complex would be your best bet for that, short of driving all the way north to Foster City.

              Go to ASJ in San Jose for the best beef noodle soup (spicy).

              Cafe Taiwan in Milpitas for Hakka Taiwanese fare, like blanched/boiled pig's intestines, mi tai mu (rice noodle like an udon texture but more rice flavor), and man luan ju jiao (boneless marinated pig's knuckles, even tastier than any braised pork belly dish), and a farely decent Taiwanese style fish ball soup and decent gong wan, although Ay Chung Milpitas does a fantastic fuzhou style fishball soup (the broth is ok, a little oily, but the fishballs are supreme as they are bouncy, yet have a lot of fish flavor, and insides are made with grounded eel that melts in your mouth, versus pork).

              1. re: K K

                Well, it looks like we'll be heading to Milpitas! Thanks for all those recommendations, and details on dishes. What/where is ASJ in San Jose that has the spicy beef noodle soup (are you talking about hong shao niu rou tang mian or wu xiang niu rou tang mian)? Thanks.

                1. re: starvinginNH

                  Link inserted. Same plaza as 99 Ranch supermarket, inbetween 880 and 680 on Hostetter Road.

                  It's hung shao niu rou mien, with a layer of chili oil on top. I assume you can read some Chinese, so you need to specify whether you want thin noodle or thick (knife shave noodle). They kind of tease you with one strand of qing jiang cai (the light green short stem veg).

                  As long as you go to Ay Chung without expecting it to be a clone of Ay Chung Taipei, you'll be fine. I've never had ba wan at AC, but I believe they have it. Ay Chung Mien Sien (signature dish) is identical to oh a mee sua (oyster noodle) but has no oysters in it, just chitterlings. It's been inconsistent a lot but when they nail it, it's pretty good. Of course AC in Taipei only sells one item which is the mien sien (small or large bowl), and it is supreme Remember to get some self help black vinegar and pepper to make it taste x100000000000 better. Otherwise it's bland. Beware their chili sauce (self help), it is craaaaazy hot. Use sparingly.

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                  ASJ Restaurant
                  1698 Hostetter Rd, San Jose, CA 95131

                  1. re: K K

                    Oh yes, I am always craving (dao shao mian) knife shaved noodles! Thank you. And it's hard to find in Northeast. A few places do it well, but only on weekend and they are 2-3 hour drive from me. And hong shao niu rou mian red-cooked beef noodles are my favorite, so delicious, i love how the beef is braised in the soy sauce (or in Sichuan the chili bean paste mostly!) and get this rich dark flavor. I will definitely get that at ASJ since so close in San Jose.

                    Thanks for the specific tips and the warning - but we love spicy, I lived in Sichuan for a month and everything had both hot chili and sichuan peppercorn in it. It's necessary in winter though because the damp sinks into your bones and makes you feel cold even though it won't snow there, and in summer it makes you sweat to help the hot humid weather. :)

                    I'm looking forward to trying all these places.

                    1. re: K K

                      is there "gua bao" at these taiwanese joints? it's a quintessential taiwanese street snack made of lean/fatty pork chunks in a steamed bun with cilantro, suan cai (sour cabbage), and sprinkles of peanut flour. i've been craving gua bao from Lan Jia in gonguan of taipei for years.... if there is gua bao in milpitas, i just might rent a zipcar and drive over to milpitas just to get my taiwanese crave!

                      1. re: inmandarin

                        I think you can find a better version in Millbrae, but you have to plunk down $14.50 to get the Tung Por Mahn Rou 2 way.

                        Deets here:

                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/418030

            2. I'll also recommend Zeni for Ethiopian, really wonderful. I love the vegetarian combo.

              Vung Tau is great for upscale Vietnamese, I also like Saigon 75 for the fresh spring rolls and grilled catfish "thanh long".

              Chez Sovan has decent Cambodian food, the Campbell location has better hours and is easier to find.

              3 Replies
              1. re: alis

                Hey, thanks for advice on Cambodian food which I love, and Campbell is close.
                A couple people mentioned Zeni Ethiopian. Does Zeni have traditional style big platter for the whole table? My key to Ethiopian restaurants is: how is their injera? Spongy and fresh? Because you end up eating a lot of it since that is your utensil to scoop the food! You can get forks & spoons but it's fun to eat traditional way using the injera with fingers. I love all the veggie dishes and legumes, so glad to hear veg combo is good.

                1. re: starvinginNH

                  Along those lines - is the injera all teff, or teff/wheat combo?

                  1. re: starvinginNH

                    It is traditional with the big platter. They even have a room with traditional Ethiopian style seating as well as American-style tables and chairs in the front. Good Ethiopian beer selection also.

                    The injera is good, fresh and spongy, nice slightly sour taste. I asked them once and they said it is all teff, but I honestly wouldn't know the difference other then "good" and "not good" :-)