Good Chettinadu and Indian Chinese dishes at Muniyandi Vilas (Santa Clara)
Muniyandi Vilas (or Sri Muniyandi Vilas Military Hotel) has moved from a spot in the Bharat Baazar grocery to a full restaurant. Site of the former, short-lived Jerusalem Restaurant: 3064 El Camino, Santa Clarra.
In sea of south indian restaurants, they focus on Chettinad and Indian Chinese dishes, from the more heavily non-vegetarian south Indian area of Tamilnadu: Chettinad.
My dining partner and I have visited 3 times already, focusing on some of these dishes.
They offer "regular" biryani, which is Chettinad style and the menu says they offer hyderbadi style on weekends. When we first went we mistakenly thought that meant they considered the weekend dish one of their house specialites, but it turns out that they only intend to offer it because so many in the area expect it. Right now they told us they want to concentrate on their Chettinad dishes and haven't yet offered the hyderbadi style on the weekends. The regular biryani came with egg and the spices were well cooked in to the rice mix (uniformly brown color), served with raita and meat (mutton, chicken, ...) curry sauce on the side. Good spice level (hotter than hyderbadi, but not as hot as some of the other dishes they offer).
My favorite dish has been the simple chili gobi. Prepared similarly to chili chicken, but with cauliflower. Very nicely fried, good crust, and good high heat level. The manchurian dishes are similar, but with more of a salty flavor and less heat. The szechuan chicken noodles were surprisingly good. I haven't enjoyed the Indian Chinese dishes I've had elsewhere, but I like the all the ones we've tried at Muniyandi so far.
The chicken chettinad had a reddish brown sauce, with a complex flavor and high heat level.
They do offer a wide range of idly, dosa, and uttapam, though we've only tried the uttapam so far. With how good the Chettinad and Indian Chinese dishes are, I'm less likely to fill up on these here.
Right now they are cash only (a downside when you like the food enough to want to order extra to go).
Photos at http://picasaweb.google.com/artemis/M...
I've attached pictures of mutton biryani and vegetable manchurian.
I was intrigued by the meat dishes found on the menu, especially the rabbit and abundance of mutton and goat. I found a post/article on another site that describes in detail the rise in popularity of Chettinad cuisine in India and some of its origins, history and of course, notable dishes. I thought it was fascinating and very informative. I definitely have a game plan for vising Muniyandi Vilas after reading it.
I've tried the rabbit chettinad and it was OK; I liked the chicken version better. I haven't tried any of the goat liver/brain/stomach dishes -- do report back if you do. I've also not yet tried any of the fish or seafood dishes (my dining partner doesn't like shrimp).
They didn't have any crab dishes until a few days ago (a good sign), and then only the crab fry, but it didn't taste like it was local dungeness.
The chili gobi remains a favorite but only for eat-in and only if you eat it right away. Because of the nice hot sauce, it loses crispiness quickly.
I notice that they've now updated their website and it has the current menu. Also, they are directly across the street from Bangalore Cafe -- easy to combine with a trip for Real Ice Cream or kulfi for dessert.
Mrs. Wineguy and I stopped in for a late lunch today. We tried the Chicken Chettinadu and loved it. In addition we ordered the Chilli Gobi, Baby Corn Manchurian and a Masala Uthappam. The heat was nice on the cauliflower and the baby corn dishes (Mrs. Wineguy particularly liked the crispiness of the cauliflower).
I didn't know what to expect for this cuisine regarding heat levels, and found it generally less hot than I would like. As the only non-Indian patrons in the restaurant at the time, I wonder if they gringo-ized it for us...
We went back again today for our 4th visit.
Tried some new dishes: chicken kothu parota and pepper chicken.
The pepper chicken was whole dark meat pieces cooked in lots of onions and spices. Very flavorful.
The Kothu parota was a big winner. Very large portion, excellent spicing, and served with curry sauce and raita (like the biryani). Dark meat chicken (excellent). We'll be getting this again frequently.
We're not fans of chicken breast meat, and only the Andra chicken has been white meat so far.
The restaurant itself is small, about 15 table tops. They've always had incense burning, so folks sensitive to that may want to limit their visits to togo orders. They also have a small sink outside the bathroom if you want to wash your hands. Since there isn't room for stand near the door, they bring mukhwas with the check. Service has been been variable, from very attentive to a little distracted (but always friendly). If you order the Indian Chinese dishes, they sometimes bring sauces (chili vinegar, soy+oil, ketchup, and hot sauce) and sometimes overlook it (except for the more bland hakka noodles, most of the dishes don't benefit from additions, however).
Sri Muniyandi Vilas
3064 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95051
Thanks for the post! I do not recall any other Chettinad places in the area, though several places offer a chicken chettinad dish. The Chettinad style biryani looks nice and different. It's great to have more biryani variation, so I hope they leave the Hyderabadi style to the other places and focus on doing this one well.
I hope to try this out soon!