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South Indian food truck in San Diego

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Greetings everyone
This is to report on a really interesting food find near Miramar - the Copper Chimney South Indian food truck!
In India, it is very common to get snack-based south Indian food (dosas, idlis, vadas) from food carts or street vendors, but this hasn't really caught on in the U.S. - so eating a dosa or idli streetside remains a rare experience (I know of just one other such truck - and its in New York - i'm sure theres others in different cities that would be great to learn about)

In any case, San Diego now has it's own food truck. It is usually parked at the intersection of Black Mountain Road and Kearny Villa road, opposite the Am-Pm gas station. The owner, Allen mentioned that they may change their location, but they can be reached at 619 997 6946 to find out where they are parked. They are there fridays 5-7, sat/sun from 12.30-5pm and mondays 5-7.30pm. Probably better to call and check before driving out there.

As for the food, the menu is short - idli (rice cakes), medu vada (the donut shaped deep fried savory dough), dosa (masala and plain), mirchi bajji (fritters of anaheim chillies) and hyderabadi chicken biryani. We tried the bajji, vada and dosas. They were out of idlis when we ate there, and as a vegetarian, I couldn't try the biryani (the owner said if I notified him, he could prepare a veggie version). The vadas and bajji were prepared fresh to order. Both were spiced excellently, and served with green coconut chutney (authentic and excellent!). the bajji also came with a terrific tomato chutney. The vada was served with a red chutney and very good sambar - while sambar does not traditionally have baby carrots or bell peppers, it was piping hot, well spiced and with enough flavor, so that I wasn't bothered by the wrong choice of veggies (at least there were no green peas or corn). Besides, eating that food while standing streetside brought such nostalgia that I am not inclined to be critical (others may disagree)

The dosa was served with the same 2 chutneys as the vada and sambar. It was crisp, thin and the potato masala was spiced and cooked just right (mashed, not diced and with no red pepper powder). The owner did mention that they change the menu often - they sometimes add Hyderabadi dishes as well - this is A REAL treat, since good Hyderabadi cuisine is not found in San Diego outside Hyderabadi homes.

Additional pluses - our meal of the above items plus 2 bottles of water cost just $9! The owner also assured me that they have all the required health dept certifications etc. etc. - moreover, they prepare the vegetarian and non vegetarian food separately (often a key issue for strict vegetarians). They do catering too.

I forgot to ask how long they have been in business - it's likely they already have a following, but I did not find any mention on this Board, and a place like this certainly merits a mention. The Indian food scene, especially the south Indian scene in SD is nothing special, and this place adds a welcome dimension. I am keen to know if other hounds have been here and if their experiences were positive, or different.

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  1. sounds like a promising find! Too bad they're not open later on Saturdays.

    1. Wow!!!! This is great. Thanks so much for reporting on this truck, especially from a person who has such a clear knowledge and appreciation of the cuisine.

      I was recently rereading some surati farsan posts and I was really impressed with your information you shared. I had been gearing up for a trip up to Artesia to check the Indian cuisine scene there - but that will have to wait in light of this - I can't wait to check this out.

      What kind of Hyderabadi dishes should we inquire after ipsit?

      1 Reply
      1. re: kare_raisu

        Thanks for the compliment kare_raisu!
        Here's my not-so-brief thoughts on hyderabadi food
        Hyderabadi cuisine is complex - even though Hyderabad is in the south, it has a rich Islamic heritage, hence the cuisine combines north Indian cooking techniques with more south Indian spicing (Wikipedia has a nice quick introduction to hyderabadi cuisine, including a long list of representative dishes). Another distinction is that though Hyderabad in the capital of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderbadi cuisine is not the same as Andhra cuisine. The restaurant 'Annapurna' located on Miramar (in the strip mall with Target, next to Vinh Hung) has a selection of Andhra dishes in addition to staple South Indian fare.
        Biryani is a specialty - as of now, they only seem to have a chicken biryani, but Allen (the owner) mentioned that if demand grows, he is able to expand/change the menu at will. It is definitely worth checking if they make 'dum' biryani (slow cooked with veggies and lamb), Haleem (spicy porridge, with or without meat), Mirch Salaan - a curry made with whole peppers, and Khatti dal, which is a sour dal , flavored with tamarind. I plan to go back soon, and get a list of potential Hyderabadi dishes he might add. As I understood, theyre starting out slow, but will expand once demand grows, so it is in our best interest to visit them often!
        I'm looking forward to hearing about your 9and otehr hounds') experience at the truck

      2. "Wow!!!! This is great."

        Is right.

        I made it out here today for the first time today. I go to Surati so often - I kind of felt like I was doing something wrong not getting anything there - but man, is this place so worth the drive in such weather!

        Copper Chimney is the chow trifecta of unique, delicious and special for me. I can't thank ipsit more for leading me here.

        The two cooks Allen and Tirupathi (I think) are very friendly and eager to talk about their food from my questioning.

        I had the Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani, and the Mirchi Bhaji. From the steady stream of south Asian customers I could see very homestyle looking samosas, dosai and idlis being consumed. All looked fantastic and were devoured about the same speed as I.

        Ive never had Hyderabad style food but after trying it here -- all I can tell you is I want more.

        The rice was perfectly cooked style al dente, fragrant and redolent of spicing. The chicken - moist dark meat drumsticks. This was paired with a raita with onion and what Allen called a spicy yellow onion gravy but would not reveal more to me! The three counterpoints of food were wonderful together.

        The mirchi baji - an Indian subcontinent Chile relleno if you will and put simply is one of the best things I've ever ate in San Diego. Crisp near greaseless besan flour pillow encapsulating a tender roasted chile - stuffed with some sort of garnishing. Off the hook,
        The peanut-dried red chile relish - sharp and rich - the cooling coconut coriander chutney...jeez

        Get out here and check it out - this is the most exciting chow find for me in a looong time. Thanks Ipsit a milllion.

        6 Replies
            1. re: kare_raisu

              "Get out here and check it out - this is the most exciting chow find for me in a looong time. Thanks Ipsit a milllion."

              See? And people keep bashing Mira Mesa but the truth is there is some good food to be found if one looks for it.

              1. re: oerdin

                A lot of people do not consider the Black Mountain / Kearney Mesa intersection to be in "Mira Mesa" (it's south of Carrol Canyon), thus the reason for the Mira Mesa bashing. Though there are a few gems in Mira Mesa proper, once you exclude Little India you are on pretty thin ice.

                It's like the "Cafe Chloe and Cowboy Star are not in the Gaslamp" nitpicking. :)

                1. re: RB Hound

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mira_Mes...

                  The city government, and everyone I know, believes Mira Mesa is everything from the I805 east to the I15, north to Los Penasquitos Canyon south the Miramar Rd. I grew up in Mira Mesa & Scripps Ranch and everyone always considered those to be the boundaries including the city government. To each their own though I guess.

                  1. re: oerdin

                    I stand corrected. Still, I'm willing to bet that most the people that bash Mira Mesa dining options are leaving out the gems in the Little India area.

            2. Thank you! I have marked this for my next trip to San Diego....hubby might be convinced to make a trip just to try it out!

              1. Thanks for the heads up, ipsit! I'll be patronizing this truck shortly, probably with a good friend of mine originally from the Hyderabad area. He's pretty excited and so am I!

                11 Replies
                1. re: RTee

                  OK finally went to the truck last night and was thoroughly impressed. I got the masala dosa (by chef recommendation), mirchi bajji (sp?), and chicken biryani. There were two guys working the truck last night, and the one I talked to mostly was a super friendly guy by the name of Allen.

                  The mirchi bajji were fried fairly well, if a bit greasy, with two sauces/chutneys. The red one was supposedly "dynamite," according to my cook, but apparently that's just because I'm not Indian. Regardless, it wasn't that spicy despite the fact that I can't eat super spicy (I'm not bad, just not your average Indian) foods. The white chutney was yogurt with coconut, I want to say. Overall, the mirchi bajji were damn good for $2. The flavor of the chiles really stood out here, which I thought was pretty impressive.

                  The $3 dosas were well cooked, with an AMAZING sauce of reddish color. I ate it so fast I didn't bother to make mental notes of the flavor, other than Holy Crap, This Is Good! There was the yogurt/coconut chutney on the side again, too, and the classic lentil soup thing. Sorry, I don't know the names of these sauces. The dosas' filling were good too, if fairly standard for what you'd expect out of a masala dosa.

                  The $5 biryani was quite unlike the other ones I've had before. The flavor of cardamom seed was REALLY strong, and there was quite a bit of star anise in there too. So if you like a fragrant biryani, this one's for you. My Hyderabadi roommate loved it. The chicken was really well seasoned, and I couldn't get enough of it.

                  Overall impression: I will be back as soon as possible. You should go too. =)

                  1. re: RTee

                    I made my second visit last night also - I guess I just missed you RTee - Allen did say that he had some folks there previously who mentioned learning about his truck on CH. Its really great that your Hyderabadi friend liked the food, since he probably has a much broader reference range for this cuisine.

                    Notes:
                    - Got to try the idlis. Soft, fluffly and the perfect amount of sourness from the fermentation in the batter. They serve those with the coconut chutney and sambar, as well as the 'dynamite' chutney - red chillies and a distinctive peanut flavor. Its not blowout hot, but packs a nice kick. Most tellingly though, I took an order to idlis as carry-out, and 2 hours later, they were still soft, moist and fluffy. To me that is a sign that they know what they are doing, since idlis dont always travel well - they often get gummy, or dry out.

                    - I asked for a side of the gravy that goes with the biryani. It is called 'salaan', and is an onion based gravy, with strong spicing. I detected star anise in there, as well as clove and cinammon. Tried the salaan gravy with mirchi bajji - divine!. There is a classic Hyderabadi curry called mirchi salaan, which is effectvely the chillies (non batter fried) cooked in the salaan gravy. I've tasted some amazing mirchi salaans in India before, cooked by accomplished Hyderabadi chefs. While Allen's version is not as thick, the flavors are spot-on. I recommend a side of salaan with the bajji next time, in addition to the chutneys.

                    - I also learned some more about the operation. They have a bigger menu on weekends, especially saturdays, when they will carry a vegetarian dum biryani (this coming saturday anyway). I was also told that they sometimes make Indian Chinese food on weekends. Im not sure what theirs will be like, but at this point, the only place serving Indian-Chinese (to my knowledge) is India Princess next to Surati Farsan, and the Indian Chinese there is awful! If the truck does it well, it could become the go-to spot for TWO distinct Indian cuisines! In general, Allen said business has been steadily growing, and in time, we may see more Hyderabadi specialties appear on the menu.

                    I'm getting excited just thinking about trying that dum biryani this saturday...

                    1. re: ipsit

                      Anyone know if they'll be open on Jan 2nd?

                      1. re: ipsit

                        Haha that's hilarious! Allen asked me how I found out about the truck and I told him online, and he immediately said, "Chowhound?" in his thick accent. Then he told me to go post. =P

                        I saw those idlis and figured I'd have to try them eventually. I saw lots of other people get them too. I believe they have plain idlis and also deep-fried versions.

                        Salaan sounds like a winner. I'll remember to ask for that next time, thanks!

                        Now I want to go back and see what other stuff they have on the weekends. Also, I've never had Indian-Chinese food. I'm a little wary of it, to be honest, just because it seems like generally the flavor profiles wouldn't match up well. I'll sure find out, though! It's a shame I'm not around this weekend to find out, but maybe I'll see ya next time. =)

                        1. re: RTee

                          They're open Jan 2nd. They were even open christmas. I drove by the place and saw the truck there - it was crowded even!

                          As for the Indian-Chinese, it is its own subclass of cuisine, with little in common with either Indian or Chinese. Wikipedia has a nice primer on it
                          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_C...

                          I tried the Vegetable Manchurian - very good - it is basically vegetable fritters, tossed in soy, onion and loads of garlic. This does not taste like the Indian Chinese in India, but is easily the best Ive tasted in San Diego. Since Indian Chinese food is also best eaten off food carts in India, thats a double strike for Allen. The menu is also growing - Ii saw 5 or 6 non-vegetarian dishes yesterday including a fish curry, chicken curry and a curious dish called chicken 65 - im not sure what that is ( Allen said only that it was a chicken dish created in 1965!

                          )

                          check it out!

                          1. re: ipsit

                            here's Wikipedia's info on Chicken 65:

                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_65

                            deep fried chicken w/ ginger, cayenne pepper, mustard powder and vinegar sounds pretty darn tasty!

                            1. re: daantaat

                              I asked one of the students who frequents the truck, and he said that it comes from an urban legend about a cook using 65 spices in the recipe. It's a funny name in any case...

                              1. re: SaltyRaisins

                                Chicken 65 is one of my favorite dishes when I visit Hyderabad, and am looking forward to tasting the version served by truck.

                                1. re: SaltyRaisins

                                  Wikipedia had several hypothesis on how the name came to be, which of them are accurate, I have no idea.

                                  1. re: SaltyRaisins

                                    A friend of mine said that back in Hyderabad the urban legend he heard had something to do with cutting the chicken into 65 little pieces. The myth continues to grow....

                            2. re: ipsit

                              I am SO there tomorrow for the vegan dum biryani..

                          2. thanks for this rec, ipsit. my DH and i are visiting from the great white north (canada) and were looking for good indian to try while we are here...we ate our fill of dosa and biryani yesterday!!!! delicious. we may go back before we head out of town on wednesday.

                            1. Discovered this place after hearing about it from a friend. The food is excellent...very tasty, fresh and very, very reasonably priced! We had the masala dosa and the south indian biryani. The owner gave me a sample of the chicken biryani to try, and it was beyond delicious! Next time, I'm going to try the manchurian vegetable dish. It sounds so tasty. The sambar and chutneys that accompanied our dosas were very tasty as well. This is by far the best Indian food I've had in this city. An added bonus is the 'fun factor' of buying indian food off of a truck! I plan to use this place to cater future parties. The owner is a super nice guy..he's been living here for years and is genuinely interested in his customers. He is very accomodating and can make things to order with just a little bit of notice. Definitely check out Copper Chimney!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: lanalang

                                Yes, this is a great place and a find like this really makes me appreciate chowhound. After seeing a story about all of the great food trucks in LA I was wondering whether we would get something other than the taco trucks here. Hopefully, this is the start of a new trend. We went there tonight after seeing a movie at Edwards theater (a very close drive). The owner was very nice and wanted to make sure that we liked everything. I would say my favorites were the mirchi bajji and the idli, especially with the sauces that it came with. The only thing that I was not crazy about was the mutton curry. The curry itself was good but I found the mutton to be a bit tough.

                                I am looking forward to going back soon to try out more of the menu, including some of the Indian-Chinese dishes. The owner said that they are hoping to open a restaurant at some point but right now they are relying on the truck and some catering. There seemed to be a fair number of Indian customers but he is trying to expand the customer base so definitely try this place soon.

                              2. Just got back from my delicious second visit and am armed with the official posted menu and hours!

                                >> Non -Veg Menu <<
                                - Chile Chicken
                                - Chicken 65
                                - Chicken Kebab
                                - Fish Fry
                                - Mutton Curry
                                - Chicken Hyderabadi Biryani
                                - Pepper Chicken

                                >> Vegetarian Menu <<
                                - Masala Dosa
                                - Onion Dosa
                                - Egg (w/masala) Dosa
                                - Idly (3)
                                - Medu Wada
                                - Masala Wada
                                - Mirchi Baji
                                - Cocktail Idly
                                - Vegetable Manchurian

                                New Posted Hours:
                                Friday 6-8pm
                                Saturday 1-8pm
                                Sunday 1-6pm
                                Monday 6-8pm

                                I am really happy this place exists. There was a famous post on chowhound lamenting the unavailability of eating authentic regional Indian food in the US outside of south Asian Homes. This place proves that wrong - we in San Diego have a unique window into the style of food originated from the Capital of the State of Andhra Pradesh [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andhra_P... ], Hyderabad. Its famous for it blend of Mughlai and native Telegu cuisines, so that we have both meat - centric and pure vegetarian food.

                                This time I ordered the first savoury doughnut Ive ever had in my life - the pillowy Medu Wada which is made from a lentil based batter and studded with spices. Its served with a thin tart-nuanced sambhar with vegatables and the same peanut-chile and coriander-coconut chutneys as the mirchi baji.

                                I told Allen to give me whatever and got the Biryani again - it was even better this time - two fork tender drumsticks were hidden under the red and white colored basmati. The salan sauce was less spicy this time - so I was able to appreciate its different flavors even better. The rich onion curd is so good with the rice.

                                The taste of the Mutton curry was pretty exquisite - it reminded me of my nona's cacciatore with its lighter tomato base. The sauce was addicting and lamb was just yielding enough.

                                I inquired about the difference between the cocktail idly and and regualar idly. Not only did some kind regulars offer me a taste of theirs, but Allen promptly offered a sample. I learned it a South Indian variation of the theme of chaat. The idlis are chopped - fried and mixed with chaat masala, chile, onion, tomato, coriander and lime juice. Wow. This made me think of fried polenta.

                                I got to try the Dosa too - which comes with a tomato relish rather than the spicy peanut. I liked it much better than those at Surati Farsan. The potato masala filling tasted much more subtle and not as crazily spices as suratis.

                                Copper Chimney should be on your 2010 list for sure!

                                Picture slideshow: http://s1010.photobucket.com/home/lap...

                                12 Replies
                                1. re: kare_raisu

                                  Here's a recipe for Cocktail Idly: http://curryinkadai.blogspot.com/2009...

                                  I forgot to mention I saw the Veg Manchurian and it looked super tasty.

                                  1. re: kare_raisu

                                    yea for the new and extended hours! Thanks for the detailed menu list, kare_raisu!

                                    1. re: kare_raisu

                                      Dang: Decent selection for a truck! There goes my plan of just ordering "one of each" to bring home and see which the kids will eat. They're pretty openminded, but don't have daddy's (or even mommy's) tolerance for heat. Chilis make them cry.

                                      Any recs for a top 4-6 to bring home to the goatlings?*

                                      *at least one can have any amount of heat.

                                      1. re: The Office Goat

                                        If your able to have one item with heat - I would recommend the Mirchi Baji - though I don't remember them being very hot at all with exception of the peanut-chile relish.

                                        I think you should really experience the dosa - but I wouldn't recommend bringing it home because it will lose its crispness - one of its best features. I've been thinking more and more about the dosa since I had it - it was that delicious. The cocktail idly, I feel the same about - you need to eat it crisp and fresh.

                                        Therefore I would go for the Hyderabadi Biryani - and not let you kids have the salaan but just the curd with it. Then the idly and medu wada and mutton curry to bring home that wiil best stay.
                                        Ask for the subtle tomato chutney with the idly and medu instead of the peanut sauce - its beautifully fresh and smooth.

                                        Hope this helps and bon appetit!

                                        1. re: kare_raisu

                                          Thanks! Now I just have to wait until their 4-day workweek begins again.

                                      2. re: kare_raisu

                                        Thanks for posting hours/menu, the wife and I were finally able to make it to Copper Chimney on Saturday and had an amazing late lunch. Had the pillowly Idly, Masala Dosa, Chile Chicken, and Chicken Biryani everything was fantastic as mentioned here. Allen was very accommodating as my wife has a nut allergy, and was quick to point out what she should avoid. There were about 6-8 customers at 2pm on Saturday, decent crowd. Wish I could have tried everything on the menu, looking forward to my next trip for the cocktail idly, mirchi baji and the mutton curry. Allen asked if I heard about them on Chowhound, mentioned that Aaron posted menu and hours and he said you have good karma headed your way.

                                        1. re: stevuchan

                                          I think we must have passed each other on the sidewalk! Were you parked behind or in front of his truck?

                                          1. re: daantaat

                                            Might have, parked behind the truck eating out of the back of Forester.

                                            1. re: stevuchan

                                              I think we saw you there. An O'Brien's Pub t-shirt?

                                              1. re: daantaat

                                                Yep, that was us. We definately crossed paths. I will try to stop stuffing my face next time a say hi to folks. The Indians guys in line were really suprised that we liked spicy food, more like shocked, it was kind strange.

                                                1. re: stevuchan

                                                  I think it's an Asian immigrant/1st generational cultural thing to be shocked when someone not of your ethnicity likes the "real" deal. I won't be shy to say "hi" next time!

                                          2. re: stevuchan

                                            Cool! I'd like to set up some twitter account or facebook for them - so they could post what they are making and where they will be. This truck is one of the best things to happen to the San Diego Culinary and chowhound scene.

                                        2. Easily the best Indian food in San Diego. Madras Cafe was as good when it first opened and there really was an Indian grandmother in the kitchen. Sadly, that was many years ago. Thanks for tip.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: notjustastomach

                                            What did you have? and what did you think?

                                          2. Ok, we finally made it here today! It's on our top 3 Indian places in SD, along w/ Punjabi Tandoor and Surati Farsan.

                                            Allen (or is it spelled Elan, if you look at the email address on his truck) serves Qualcomm employees a $5 box lunch. 3 rotis, 3 curries and basmati rice. Those people are pretty darn lucky! He said they've been looking to open a restaurant but the start up costs are high, esp rent, even in this economy. I think there's pluses and minuses to that, b/c he can charge low prices for his food b/c of virtually no overhead.

                                            Anyways, on to the food...for $14, we had chicken biriyani, chili fish, mirchi bajji and water. It was a lot of food for $14! Biriyani rice by itself was deeply fragrant and flavorful. Allen said there were 14 spices in it. I id'd saffron, turmeric, cloves, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, black peppercorns, cumin. Added the onion sauce, which added another dimension of spices and flavor. Then added the raita, which was raw sliced onion and chopped Thai chilis. I'm not a big fan of raw onion, but it gave it a nice clean "bite" to all the layers of spices. Chicken drumsticks were falling off the bone-tender and perfect to mix up in all the rice.

                                            Chili fish was tilapia, stir fried in a dark (tamarind?), sweet and chili spicy sauce--really, really good! Fish had crispy bits to it and would have been perfect over rice or w/ naan. Will have to remember to ask for some next time.

                                            MIrchi bajji were blissfully hot, warmly spicy with that nice extra kick of chili heat. Even better in the coconut chutney and/or tomato chutney! I think next time we'll each have our own order.

                                            Allen said they can make lots of things that aren't on the menu and mentioned the Chinese-Indian cuisine. The closest we've had to that was at Woodlands, in the SF Valley and it was pretty good. He mentioned things like kung pao chicken, lo mein and one of these days we'll take him up on it when we're really feeling adventurous. He was very conscientious about making sure we were happy w/ our food and that we had everything we needed.

                                            The only downside (and I'm nitpicking here...) is that they only have water to drink. Couple of remedies to this--go to AM-PM across the street for soda or juice or hit up Surati Farsan Mart and get a faloosh or lassi and then head down to Copper Chimney. I think I'll be doing the latter next time!

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: daantaat

                                              Great write up daantaat.

                                              Prices at Copper chimney are unbeatable - especially considering the quality of food! I was really curious about the fish fry - the tamarind sauce sounds so wonderful.

                                              I also thought of bringing the chaash over from surati to enjoy with the meal. I wasnt a fan of dosas until I had them here - you should check them out next time.

                                              For anyone thats curious - there is a spectacular Hyderabadi food blog www.zaiqa.net
                                              I've cooked at least 4 of her recipes since becoming fascinated with the cuisine of Hyderabad.

                                              Provecho guys

                                              1. re: daantaat

                                                Nice report. Love this thread- so full of discovery and revelation. I agree about the raw onion- somehow it is treated so that they are very sweet and make a great accompaniment to whatever they're on.

                                                Cheers.

                                                1. re: daantaat

                                                  Could you please tell me where he goes to sell to the Qualcomm employees. Why does my husband (a Qcom employee) not know about this?! Thanks.

                                                  1. re: obmarriott

                                                    best bet is to call Allen's cell phone, 619 997 6946 and ask him where they'll be.

                                                    1. re: obmarriott

                                                      A friend who works at Qualcomm recently mentioned their box lunches - they are sold from a van outside the A-V Building (I'm only paraphrasing here, no idea what or where that is). Qualcomm employees probably know what that is. They sell from 12-12.45 pm weekdays

                                                    2. re: daantaat

                                                      good news--they have drinks now. Mango lassi, apple juice, water and I (think) some sodas. Allen said people were asking for drinks and now he has them! Less of a need to swing by Surati Farsan Mart on the way down.

                                                    3. now if they could just show up at lunchtime during the week...

                                                      3 Replies
                                                        1. re: MrKrispy

                                                          I'm dying for some right now but I guess I'll have to wait until Friday. :(

                                                          1. re: MrKrispy

                                                            Actually I think they spend many of their lunchtimes catering to the Qualcomm folk. Copper Chimney's been serving them for a bit longer than it's been on Kearny Villa. So if you REALLY want it for lunch during the week...

                                                          2. I was going to take my husband there today, but alas! They were closed. I am dying to go because husband keeps saying Copper Chimney and Bull Taco are urban legends made up by nutty chowhounders.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Dagney

                                                              check their hours! They're only there on Fri, Sat, Sun and Mon.

                                                            2. Hi! Read the post and thread and it has made me excited to go and try it this weekend. Very informative and objective posts. I got the link from a friend at work.

                                                              What do you recommend for someone who has a broad background in taste and flavors?

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: kat in sd

                                                                I would go with the Hyderabadi Biryani and Mirchi Baji as the two dishes you should first try here at the truck. I think they are the strongest representations of Hyderabad food. Bon appetite and enjoy yourself!

                                                                1. re: kat in sd

                                                                  The Hyderabadi food is clearly the strong suite, though I have been consistently floored by the medu vadas - always fresh and done perfectly. If the Manchurian is on the menu, its a decent representative Indian-Chinese item.
                                                                  If you had to pick one item though, the Mirchi Bajji would clearly be it. I just got back from a 3 week trip (read: food binge) to India and against all possible odds, actually missed the Mirchi Bajji from the truck. Prior to this, the idea of being in India and actually missing ANY kind of Indian food from here was inconcievable...in my book, that makes Allen pass the ultimate authenticity test!

                                                                2. Finally made it here last night. Lesson 1: Arrive early! I got there about 1 hr. after opening and they were already out of a number of items.

                                                                  I did manage to get mirchi baji, wada, and cocktail idly, and he gave me some samples of their soup and a spicy fried vegetable dish since he felt bad about them being out of so much stuff.

                                                                  I really liked the food, though the emphasis on frying is sort of a bummer.

                                                                  The cocktail idly was probably my favorite, followed by the mirchi bajji. One thing that was funny to me was the extensive warnings over the spiciness of the food, when it wasn't really spicy at all. The hottest thing I ate was reminiscent of a mid-grade salsa.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                                    What it sounds like you got - of what was left - were the street food dishes Copper Chimney does. The curries and Biryani are more of the homestlye Hyderabadi food you need to come back and try.

                                                                    1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                      Yeah, those were all gone. Unfortunately it sounds like their meat is all commodity stuff - Allen told me they buy it in bulk from a generic restaurant supply place, so that kind of limits the menu for me when it comes to those dishes. Someone ordered chili chicken when I was there and it looked awesome. It seemed for vegetarian items they only had dosas and the other street food items, though they do have tilapia for a fish dish. That's sustainably farmed so I would eat that, but they were out of it.

                                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                                        Even the lamb? I would imagine the lamb would be halal considering the Hyderabad demographic that would likely be attracted to dining here.

                                                                        1. re: kare_raisu

                                                                          He didn't specify that, but it would be worth finding out.

                                                                    2. re: Josh

                                                                      Maybe the trick is to get there in the middle of their hours. Better yet, call ahead to see when to arrive. We went today at 1:30 pm and Allen said they were still waiting for the food to come up from downtown, est arrival time of 2 pm. Unfortunately, we were hungry, so we went back to Surati Farsan Mart for lunch, which was very good and filling. I think we'll be heading back tomorrow after a quick phone call.

                                                                    3. I went there saturday at 3 pm with my girlfriend and two friends. I ordered the potato curry dosa, the chicken biryani, and a mango lassi which cost $9. The dosa was very good but could have used a bit more potato though the sauces were excellent with a very nice balance of spices. The chicken buryani I thought was only ok; the chicken could have used more spice and larger portions while the basmati rice was nice and fluffy but there was so much rice and so little chicken that it seemed like I was just eating rice.

                                                                      1. Found out today that the truck will NOT be out on mondays anymore. They will now be friday, saturday and sunday only. The reason I was told, is mostly economics, since mondays tend to be very slow.

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: ipsit

                                                                          DAMN! I'm only gonna be in SD tuesday, wed and thurs...........

                                                                          1. re: tattud_gurl

                                                                            Surati Farsan and Madras Cafe are near that location, and are excellent options.

                                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                                It's not all that far from Punjabi Tandoor, either. Then again, I guess that really isn't SOUTH Indian, is it?

                                                                              2. re: tattud_gurl

                                                                                You could call Allen and check about their weekday box lunch delivery outside Qualcomm - not the same as the truck I suppose, but it could be a worthy substitution. Else, as Josh said, Surati Farsan is a good choice (personally, im not a big fan of Madras Cafe). Annapurna on Mira Mesa Blvd, in addition to staple South Indian fare has some regional Andhra dishes on the menu - thats not too far either.

                                                                                1. re: ipsit

                                                                                  I much prefer Surati Farsan, but if they're closed Madras will do.

                                                                            1. I went there today at 12:50 and he wasn't at his usual spot. It had been raining slightly so maybe he decided not to work on rainy days.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: oerdin

                                                                                I've noticed some variability in his timings recently. One sunday he wasn't there until 1pm, and then after the truck arrived, it took another 45 mins for the van which carries a lot of his supplies. (Allen did give everyone waiting free drinks though!)
                                                                                Last week, he was gone by 5pm - apparently it had been a busy day, and they had run out of chutneys and sambar. Seems like calling before driving out is becoming mandatory.
                                                                                It sucks to get there and find the truck not there - though I must admit, I like the mystique it adds to the experience.

                                                                                1. re: ipsit

                                                                                  Oh, people!
                                                                                  went on Sunday and I am so thrilled to learn about this place. A million thanks to ipsit for reommending!
                                                                                  Four of us went and basically stood around while Elan - the owner- fed us.
                                                                                  We tried a number of items and we were so impressed with the amazing flavors and kindness of the owners!
                                                                                  THe stuffed chilis blew me away - there was a spicy peanut based paste that was served with the chilis that was just wow. We asked for and received a batch of it to go!

                                                                                  My favorite was the masala dosa - the crepe was just perfect. The dough was tender and crispy and delicious! LOVED.

                                                                                  We also loved the cocktail chat - spicyt fried goodness.

                                                                                  The fluffly spicy donuts were also great.

                                                                                  I wasn't in love with the biriyani. The rice was flavorful, but I wished there was more chicken served with it and I had hoped the chicken would be mixed in with the rice, instead of served on the side.
                                                                                  Can't wait to go back!

                                                                              2. They're thinking about having their truck on qualcomm campus during weekdays for the following month; if you're in the area, you should definitely check it out! I just finished lunch there, today was their first time trying out the area. I liked it even more than my last visit, and i think they've made the portions on the dosas slightly bigger. As usual, the chutneys are really amazing, as are the dosas and vada (lentil donuts). I'm hilariously partial to their indochinese food as well, have some in the fridge for dinner.

                                                                                as usual, call to figure out if they are around.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: matus

                                                                                  Do you know if they have a specific parking location picked out? That area is pretty confusing for the non Qualcommite.

                                                                                  1. re: ipsit

                                                                                    I agree; I was with friends who knew qualcomm employees, who in turn knew the location. Elan seemed frustrated with the location too, so he might move. (by the way i really like that guy, super nice and genuine, also funny.) If you put "mckellar and pacific center, san diego" into google maps, you will see roughly where I went today. In any case, I advise calling, and perhaps you can update this thread with the location. I think the plan to be around on weekdays is still somewhat in the air.

                                                                                2. update on hours:
                                                                                  Allen said he's been getting a lot of (jealous) calls from other restaurant owners in the Little India complex, complaining that he's taking away all their business. Unfortunately, to decrease the tension, he's cutting down his hours at the Kearny Villa/Black Mtn location to Friday nights (can't remember the hours) and Sat from 1-4 pm. Unfortunately, no more Sundays. He's also going to focus more on the Qualcomm biz, for those lucky employees. IMO, the other restauranteurs need to seriously upgrade their food and quit harping on someone else who's doing a good job!

                                                                                  Allen said to call him ahead of time to double check location and hours.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: daantaat

                                                                                    Hi there, I love food trucks and just read thru most of this thread. Is the only way to find this truck's location by calling the owner? Thanks. :)

                                                                                    1. re: uberkelly

                                                                                      It parks at the intersection of Black Mountain and Kearny Villa roads, but the hours can vary. Better to call the owner than drive there and find no truck...

                                                                                  2. I'm so excited, too!! I love South Indian food (love both Madras Cafe and Anna Purna...Madras is a little greasier, but still good IMO), and can't wait for another option to be available. Plus of course the trendiness of patronizing a food truck has it's appeal - and in my very own neighborhood!!!

                                                                                    I'm double excited (and thanks to oerdin for the Mira Mesa wiki post) because I live in MM and often bash it and complain about the lack of good food because I always considered that far south to be "Miramar" not "Mira Mesa"... I suppose Miramar is just a small part of the greater Mira Mesa area :)

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: alegramarcel

                                                                                      Okay, checked out Copper Chimney today and was mightily impressed. I got the masala dosa and the veg biriyani, and a mango lassi. The biriyani was SO FLAVORFUL - unlike anything I'd ever eaten before. I don't know how there was so much cardamom in each bite! The dosa was great too, super crisp and not at all greasy. Plus it was served with coconut, onion, mint, spicy, mango, and tomato chutneys PLUS of course sambar! I usually love sambar with my idlis, but the chutneys were so good I forgot the sambar! The lassi was a little thick for my liking, but that is just personal preference.

                                                                                      And the owner was so funny and nice. My friend and I sat in the grass and ate and he came and sat with us and told us funny things like how the biriyani would stop us from snoring because it was so spicy it would clear our sinuses out.

                                                                                      It was all really spicy and my stomach sort of burned for a few hours after, but it was delicious it was worth it :)

                                                                                    2. Yet another change in the truck's timings - they are now coming back out on mondays from 4 to 7pm. He's even got a website up: http://www.sdcopperchimney.com

                                                                                      I went back there last evening after a bit of a break, and noted some changes in the menu - Allen now serves upma - cooked in ghee, the way it should be! (bad for your metabolism, great for your soul!). Also his selection of chutneys has expanded. My masala dosa came with SIX chutneys and sambar: the old standby coconut, tomato and chilly-peanut chutneys and new additions - a tempered mango chutney (sweet and tangy), a yellow onion chutney (slightly sweetish, and really flavorful), and a mint chutney (strong herb flavor and a little more heat than the others). Allen said these are local specialties in the Hyderabad area. Even my mother, who is visiting from India was highly impressed!

                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: ipsit

                                                                                        what is upma?
                                                                                        any chance he'll come back on Sundays?

                                                                                        1. re: daantaat

                                                                                          its cream of wheat or semolina cooked savoury

                                                                                          1. re: daantaat

                                                                                            like kare_raisu said...it is first cooked in ghee, and then water is added. Lot of places use oil, but ghee is the right way! He now dedicates sundays to catering, so he said its very unlikely he'll be back out sundays.

                                                                                            1. re: ipsit

                                                                                              thanks kare_raisu and ipsit!
                                                                                              bummer about Sundays...

                                                                                              1. re: daantaat

                                                                                                Sounds like he's getting regular business if he's taking a day off just to do catering. No sundays is a small price to pay to ensure that he will continue to be around.

                                                                                          2. re: ipsit

                                                                                            Thank you for keeping us posted on the Monday hours. We took advantage of them today. I had a delicious Mysore masala dosa. There were not that many people at the truck when we got there. Since both Surati Farsan Mart and Madras are closed on Mondays, this is yet another reason to go to Copper Chimney. Besides the fact that it has really good food!

                                                                                            1. re: Cheese Liz

                                                                                              I went over there for dinner yesterday evening as well, and ordered the Mysore masala dosa and the chicken biryani. I made the mistake of getting the dosa to go-- by the time I got to eat it the crepe had lost most of its crispiness. I liked the flavor of the potato filling as well as the coconut and spicy chutneys though, so I'll have to try that again some other time.

                                                                                              The biryani was delicious-- tender chicken, rice fragrant with spices. Can anyone tell me what is in the thin, yellow-orange sauce served on the side with it?

                                                                                              1. re: zare_k

                                                                                                it is called 'salan' - a Hyderabadi gravy/curry sauce, made primarily with onions, cumin and other spices. Sometimes, a thicker version is a base for curries and appears on some menus, most frequently as Mirchi Salaan

                                                                                                1. re: ipsit

                                                                                                  thank you all for this info!! I really want to try this place. Excited that he has a website!

                                                                                          3. Last weekend, instead of offering mirchi bajji (using Anaheim chili peppers), Elan/Allen was serving chili bajji (using jalapeƱos). They were very, very hot! And delicious. He did warn us first, and even gave us an extra chutney, a sweet one, to soften the blow...

                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Cheese Liz

                                                                                              Just discovered this thread. is the truck still only coming to Black Mt and Kearney on Friday's? Anyone try the Chicken 65?

                                                                                              1. re: Island

                                                                                                His website says that that is the only current location. The hours are posted at http://www.sdcopperchimney.com/

                                                                                                1. re: ipsit

                                                                                                  Thanks for the link ipsit and for starting and continuing to contribute to this great thread. I don't know much about Indian cuisine and am getting an education just reading about the dishes and Googling for more info.
                                                                                                  Dying to try it and dang, website says it's closed this weekend for truck repairs!

                                                                                                  1. re: Island

                                                                                                    Thanks Island - do report back once you make it there.

                                                                                                2. re: Island

                                                                                                  We have tried the Chicken 65 and it is quite delish. A fluorescent pinkish-red plate of battered, complexingly spicy chicken pieces (I think chopped up thighs) that will make your nose run if you're not used to that level of spice. In it's own way, quite addictive. Would be a good accompaniment to white rice or jook.

                                                                                                  1. re: daantaat

                                                                                                    "complexingly spicy" - has the potential to one of the great neologisms of all time!

                                                                                                    1. re: ipsit

                                                                                                      Ah, that's wonderful. The chili bajji, too, are complexingly spicy.

                                                                                                3. Pesa Rattu: An Andhra specialty - a dosa made from green moong dal (mung bean). The batter has no rice, the dosa is thicker than a regular rice batter dosa, and it is filled with raw onion and chilli. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pesarattu)

                                                                                                  Allen was serving this delicacy yesterday, and said its a trial. As such it is eaten with chutneys only, but I thought the combo of pesarattu and salan gravy was a winner. Of course, theres 6 other chutneys and sambar to go with it too. One bite of each and the dosa is pretty much gone!

                                                                                                  Probably a good idea to call and confirm if hes making it on a given day, and if he is go check it out. Its a treat.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: ipsit

                                                                                                    I think I've heard of this--will have to go check them out. Do you know if he'll be there on 1/1?

                                                                                                  2. So happy to find out he's there on Monday evenings now! I suspect he'll be a regular stop for me on my way home from work, and a great way to start the week!

                                                                                                    1. Went this weekend for the first time! Spicy! For me anyhow! But loved it! Got 3 items in all.

                                                                                                      But he was telling everyone there that he'd be opening up an actual restaurant in a few weeks in I guess the Little India complex a couple of blocks south of where the truck is set up.

                                                                                                      From the website, http://www.sdcopperchimney.com/ looks like this next weekend is the last for the truck.

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: FireFlyFiftyFive

                                                                                                        Really mixed feelings, here. I love the possibility of eating Allen's food for regular meals during the week, rather than just on special occasions when I can get to La Jolla at, what are for me, odd times. But I also feel the quality of the food may suffer when he is not able to work at such a small and intimate scale.

                                                                                                        1. re: notjustastomach

                                                                                                          La Jolla? He has his truck there at some point during the week?

                                                                                                        2. re: FireFlyFiftyFive

                                                                                                          The new Spice Court grocery store has a kitchen in it - the grocery store that occupied that space before had a buffet table with some curries. Im not sure how Allen will use the space, but I imagine that a permanent kitchen will make it possible to expand the menu - hopefully include more of the Hyderabadi curries which aren't suited to a food truck setting. Maybe it also helps him cope with catering to larger crowds - something that has become a bit of a problem lately.

                                                                                                          For me though, at least half the fun was reliving the experience of eating dosas off a food truck, and that will most certainly be missed! Gotta make out there for one last round of truck dosas this weekend.

                                                                                                          1. re: FireFlyFiftyFive

                                                                                                            thanks for the heads up! We were there last weekend and had the best mango lassi ever! Not that we are mango lassi experts, but this was made with real, fresh mangoes and you could really taste the difference!

                                                                                                          2. Yup, the new restaurant is up and running--will be going there this weekend to try out dosas and biryani. Have heard only rave reviews of all their food. Address: 9474 Mira Mesa Blvd, in the Spice Court.