Little India Center stepping up
Ipsit mentioned the signs she saw put up in the Little India Center off Black Mountain Rd. in this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6685...
I went to Surati Farsan today to have a really satisfying lunch and noticed some significant construction. It seems as if they are going to create some sort of indoor Indian Bazaar.
Bawarchi and Dosa Palace are the two signs they put up and I did some research because I noticed the use of "dum" in the Bawarchi sign. So I figured this place would specialize in Biryani.
Apparently these two restaurants exist in Sunnyvale in Nor cal in a Bazaar like setting as well. http://www.yelp.com/biz/bawarchi-sunn...
Bawarchi's specialty is a biryani from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh in between Hyderbad and the sea apparently from one of those yelp reviewers http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&...
I think dosa place might be connected to a bay area chain as well: http://www.yelp.com/biz/dosa-place-sa...
This is very interesting news!
I am not certain of the differences between the classic Hyderabadi dum biryani and Vijaywada biryani - it is likely to be a subtle difference, with perhaps a seafood focus in the Vijaywada style. From what Yelp says, their menu will focus on the northern part of south India (i.e. Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka) rather than Tamil or Kerala food. This reflects the large growth in the Andhra community in this part of the US. If they do Andhra-style cooking right, they will certainly not be short of business!
Any word on when they expect to open for business?
(...and just a friendly clarification, ipsit is a 'he')
Bawarchi is a chain, with 2 other branches in Milpitas and Sunnyvale. Their menus are here: http://bawarchi.us/
Based on a reading of the menu, the focus is clearly Andhra cuisine, though they have a bunch of Indo-Chinese dishes, some Punjabi/Mughlai curries mixed in, a chaat section and dosas. The menu is pretty heavy on the meat. I expect to try the biryani and some Andhra food on my first visit, and then cover the rest of the (rather large) menu over subsequent trips. In general, as i have said elsewhere, i am wary of such diverse menus, since it is impossible to get everything right, and I prefer places that have fewer choices but put effort into them. Nonetheless, if they've expanded enough to consider opening a branch down here, they must be pretty good, or they would not have survived in Sunnyvale - probably the hub of the Indian food scene.
I always try to temper my expectations from Indian restaurants, to avoid disappointment, but I'm excited about this place. I believe it opens tomorrow - will report in detail after checking it out
Tried to get take-out today from Bawarchi, but apparently they are only doing buffet until wednesday.
The Dosa Place also open wednesday, and Bawarchi will start a la carte wi their full menu the same day. Will probably wait until then before giving them a try.
Ate dinner here today. The restaurant occupies the space (and kitchen) formerly occupied by the Ker buffet (the grocery/supermarket area is still vacant). They have remodelled it significantly - divided it into 4 areas - Two banquet/party halls, Bawarchi - the fine dining (as per the front area lady) resto. The 'casual' resto - Dosa Place was to open this week, but they've postponed the opening by 2 weeks. I was told that they have had a big response to Bawarchi and want to settle down a little before opening the new place - a wise decision, but more on that later.
The a la carte menu is a mixed bag - a few Indo Chinese appetizers, BIryani and Punjabi/Mughlai curries. We were warned even before being seated that it would take 20 mins for the food to get to the table. After much debate, we settled on an order of 2 appetizers, both Indo-Chinese, and the Veg Dum Biryani.
For appetizers, we got Paneer Chilli and Baby Corn Manchurian. Paneer chilli was a hit - cubed paneer, battered and fried, tossed with red chilli, some soy, onion,garlic and bell peppers and stir fried some more - spicy, garlicky goodness - well balanced flavors, tender paneer. The baby corn manchurian was a miss - I haven't figured out why good manchurian seems to be so elusive around here, given that it is a simple dish to get right. I'm all for cross-fertilization of cuisines, but Americanization of Indo-Chinese doesnt cut it. Properly done Manchurian sauce involves soy, loads of garlic, onion, scallion, hot green pepper, bell peppers and cilantro. Sometimes it is thickened with a little cornstarch. None of these is red in color. Somehow, most manchurian around here is tinged red. At Bawarchi, the babycorn was battered and fried and tossed in a sauce that appeared red. Also, it was sweet, which I find unforgivable! I couldnt tell where the sweetness came from. Perhaps they use ketchup as a base, which would be heresy - an abomination. Anyway, I recommend avoiding the manchurian. Not only is it not authentic, it just tastes plain bad.
The star attraction - the dum biryani - lives up to the hype. Served with a boiled egg on top, it is cooked with good basmati rice and saffron - the spicing is rich. Heavy cardamom and black pepper flavors, laced with cumin, star anise, and some turmeric. There are probably other spices in there too, but I couldnt pick out anything especially prominent. The masala is heavy on onion, and the veggies were well cooked with the masala. They also add paneer to the masala, which gives the entire dish a nice textural counterbalance. The rice is then presumably given dum i.e. sealed and slowcooked with the masala and veggies, and topped off with deep fried onions and cilantro. The litmus test for correctly cooked biryani - the potato. In good biryani, the chunks of potato should be a dark brown color, and from absorbing the oils and spices it should develop a deep and rich flavor. The potato in the biryani here passed the litmus test. They are generous with the potato, which I appreciate. The biryani was served with raita and what appeared to be a mirchi salaan, though it was sweeter than other versions I've tried.
The service has a lot of kinks to iron out. The staff is not professionally trained, and while everyone was extremely polite and friendly and eager to please, there was an element of confusion to the way the place ran. Several people took the same order and some things we ordered never showed up at the table. Everyone seemed really hurried and I did not really get a chance to talk to anyone about the food or the place in generaI. I expect this will improve as they get used to handling the crowds. It is also why I think stabilizing before they open Dosa Place is a good idea. I did glance at the menu for Dosa Place, and saw several very interesting things that Im eager to try. My next visit here will probably be in about a month or so, by which time I expect they will have sorted out the service issues and Dosa Place will be up and running.
Overall, a welcome addition to the Little India center and the broader Chow scene in SD.