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Destination dining in South Bay?

I'm working near Cupertino Village and some evenings will be on my own for dinner. I can head home to Berkeley via 880, 101, or 280 so there are a lot of options.

I'm not interested in things I can get closer to home (e.g. Persian) or in anything that's not pretty much on the way (e.g. Los Gatos).

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  1. Here's my old list of to-try places I haven't made it to yet.

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    Banana Leaf Restaurant
    182 Ranch Dr, Milpitas, CA 95035

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

    Tamarine Restaurant
    546 University Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301

    Little Sheep
    34396 Alvarado Niles Rd, Union City, CA 94587

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

    Junnoon
    150 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301

    Gochi Japanese Fusion Tapas
    19980 Homestead Rd, Cupertino, CA 95014

    South Legend
    1720 N Milpitas Blvd, Milpitas, CA 95035

    Chat Patta Corner
    34751 Ardenwood Blvd, Fremont, CA 94555

    Saizo
    592 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

    Yume-Ya
    150 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

    Tanto Japanese Restaurant
    1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

    Tanto Japanese Restaurant
    1063 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

    Sumika
    236 Central Plz, Los Altos, CA 94022

    Shanghai Flavor Shop
    888 Old San Francisco Rd, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

    Kahoo Ramen
    4330 Moorpark Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

    ASJ Restaurant
    1698 Hostetter Rd, San Jose, CA 95131

    Ramen Halu
    375 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

    Nha Toi Restaurant
    460 E William St, San Jose, CA 95112

    Kokila's Kitchen
    20956 Homestead Rd, Cupertino, CA 95014

    Dishdash Restaurant
    190 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

    Saravana Bhavan USA
    1305 S Mary Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

    Fatima Restaurant
    10125 Bandley Dr, Cupertino, CA 95014

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

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

    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

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

    Chaat Paradise
    165 E El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

    ABC Sea Food Restaurant
    782 Barber Ln, Milpitas, CA 95035

    Afghani House
    1103 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA

    Komala Vilas
    1020 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

    El Oaxaqueno
    300 E William St, San Jose, CA 95112

    7 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Some more that wouldn't like in the previous post:

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      Tamarine Restaurant
      546 University Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301

      Saizo
      592 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

      Yume-Ya
      150 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

      Shanghai Flavor Shop
      888 Old San Francisco Rd, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

      Ramen Halu
      375 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

      Nha Toi Restaurant
      460 E William St, San Jose, CA 95112

      Dasaprakash Indian Restaurant
      2636 Homestead Rd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

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

      Afghani House
      1103 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA

      Komala Vilas
      1020 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Don't miss the chaat basket and masala poori at Chaat Paradise. I hate to say this, but ChinaStix is terrible, despite the owners being friends with Ming Tsai. A few blocks from ChinaStix is Kabab N Curry's (sic) - their naan and tandoori meats are best of class. Add Fu Lam Mum (on Castro, Mt. V) to your list for fantastic $20 Peking Duck on Tu/Thurs

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        Chaat Paradise
        165 E El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

        Fu Lam Mum
        155 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

        1. re: Claudette

          China Stix used to have my favorite Northern Chinese breakfast on weekends - their you tiao were impeccable, the salty soy milk was excellent, their rice rolls were the best I've had, and their fish dumplings were terrific. Oh, their eight-treasure black sticky rice was great, too. But I had to work pretty hard to convince them I wanted the Northern Chinese breakfast menu (they kept trying to get me to order off the dim sum carts), and I haven't been there in years, no idea how it is now.

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

      2. re: Robert Lauriston

        One more:

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        Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot
        215 S Ellsworth Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Banana Leaf Restaurant
          182 Ranch Dr, Milpitas, CA 95035
          -This one is really fun/tasty but you have to order carefully I have found. It may even be closed now? Or is this one a reincarnation of the other stand alone location that looked like a 7-11 or stop & go?

          Tamarine Restaurant
          546 University Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301
          fushion boringness and expensive for what it is.

          Little Sheep
          34396 Alvarado Niles Rd, Union City, CA 94587
          Only eaten at san mateo and its totally a mouth sensation. I posted about it a while ago. Its the "medicine" soup that floats my boat.

          Junnoon
          150 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301
          Skip it. Bland.

          Krung Thai Restaurant
          640 S Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128
          Krung Thai Restaurant
          580 N Winchester Blvd, San Jose, CA 95128
          Krung Thai Restaurant
          1699 W San Carlos St, San Jose, CA 95128
          I believe this is the same as thethe on on University in PA. Its a bit spendy for lunch and pretty americanized. Having said that they have some funny dishes like "country boy" that is like three types of grilled meat and coconut rice! 13 bucks. includes soup.

          Hyderabad House
          448 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301
          Very greasy. Very Very. I dont even mind that now and again but its really present. Flavors have been good. Good price for the variety of the lunch items and my co-workers, one from the region, say its pretty authentic.

          Afghani House
          1103 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA
          Low/Medium. Have had better Mantu in other places. Ashak was dry. Kufta was flavorless. Price seemed right middle ground.

          ABC Sea Food Restaurant
          782 Barber Ln, Milpitas, CA 95035
          Yea! Loved this one. Im not sure if its related to the ABC in Oakland on Franklin. I remember some really nice broth. Cheap. Plentiful!

          Mantra Restaurant & Lounge
          632 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA 94301
          Skip it. The food is totally inconsistent. Sometimes they use stewed chicken in the Tikka Masala sometimes real tandoor. people in my office love it for the ridiculously cheap buffet for 6 bucks. I find that I go for a whole 6 bucks of lamb saag and naan or othe stewy dishes. Also I have had a few after affects later in the evening after eating here. Remeber to ask for a small container if you dont want to mix your savory & sweets. Naan you have to ask for as well and they may even charge a buck for it.

          -----
          Banana Leaf Restaurant
          182 Ranch Dr, Milpitas, CA 95035

          Tamarine Restaurant
          546 University Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301

          Little Sheep
          34396 Alvarado Niles Rd, Union City, CA 94587

          Junnoon
          150 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301

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

          Hyderabad House
          448 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94301

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

          ABC Sea Food Restaurant
          782 Barber Ln, Milpitas, CA 95035

          Afghani House
          1103 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA

          Tikka Masala
          1668 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Saizo
            592 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087
            Good grilled and fried items, but I like Sumika in Los Altos better; service can get slow, and the place can get really crowded.

            Yume-Ya
            150 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087
            Only open for dinner; a good mix of Japanese fare -- sushi, sashimi, homestyle dishes, and popular Japanese dishes (mentaiko spaghetti, and okonomiyaki, for example).

            Sumika
            236 Central Plz, Los Altos, CA 94022
            I've been here for both Lunch and Dinner; being here for dinner can easily run your bill up high, as price is per skewer; the trick here is to order some more filling dishes like Kara-age and Oyako-don /Tsukune-don/unagi-don. The owner also has a great ramen place in Santa Clara (Orenchi). Lunch menu items are much more limited, and the grill/skewer isn't in operation.

            Tanto Japanese Restaurant
            1063 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087
            Tanto Japanese Restaurant
            1306 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

            For Tanto, reservations are recommended; I like their traditional fare. They don't do sushi here (I've seen patrons walk out after being told this, which is too bad, because the food here is very good). A lot of homey/comfort type Japanese food.

            -----
            Saizo
            592 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

            Yume-Ya
            150 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

            Tanto Japanese Restaurant
            1063 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

            Sumika
            236 Central Plz, Los Altos, CA 94022

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Sorry to dig up an old thread, but wondering if you made it to Junnoon. I've only visited twice for lunch. Found the food to be delicate and pricy, but quite nice.

              Is well liked by Indian friends who spend a lot of time traveling between US and India for business and, perhaps, dining on expense accounts in India. My impression is that there aren't many choices for upscale, modern Indian in the SF area (esp. for people who can eat the home style at home).

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              Junnoon
              150 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301

            2. Mama Chen in Santa Clara for what is arguably the best Taiwanese in NorCal (don't even bother with Southland Cafe in Cupertino Village which offers somewhat similar fare at much lower quality).

              You may also want to check out Liang's Village Cusine in Cupertino, offering a specific niche of Taiwanese that is of military camp family style cooking (a mish mash of regional Chinese + Taiwanese but more Taiwanese themed).

              Chinjin Eastern House in San Jose (S De Anza Blvd off the 85) for superior Islamic Chinese to Fatima (5 mins away). Layang Layang is also near Chinjin and maybe a better? alternative to Banana Leaf, although I'm really enjoying Shiok in Menlo Park even more these days despite the higher price...

              For ramen, I would only stick with Santouka in Mitsuwa Supermarket (San Jose) or Orenchi (Santa Clara).

              Shanghai Flavor Shop would be excellent for a quick fix (beware of elbow grease)....shen jian bao (probably the best in SF Bay Area?) and maybe another item or two, then save room for something else elsewhere if you still have stomach space.

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              Shanghai Flavor Shop
              888 Old San Francisco Rd, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

              Layang Layang
              1480 S De Anza Blvd, San Jose, CA 95129

              Chinjin Eastern House
              1530 S De Anza Blvd, San Jose, CA

              Mama Chen
              5075 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

              Santouka
              675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

              12 Replies
              1. re: K K

                That's a nice list to start with! It will be interesting to hear your impressions.

                Two more must-try Indian places to add to your list are Sakoon in downtown Mountain View and Madura in Sunnyvale. You might also want to try out the Sri Lankan dishes at Spicy Leaves in Los Altos.

                Nami Nami in downtown Mountain View is an excellent choice for Japanese kappo cuisine. For Afghan, I would go with Kabul in Sunnyvale. In Los Altos, Estrellita's specials offer excellent southern Mexican dishes. Zitune in Los Altos is high-end Cal-Moroccan, but since you have the pricy-but-excellent Tamarine on your list I thought I'd mention it. Also consider Bona for tasty Polish food in Menlo Park. Krung Thai is good for this area, but pales in comparison to Lers Ros in San Francisco.

                All of these are on the way, but some (like the Menlo Park places and Dasaprakash) are less convenient due to distance from the freeways.

                Michael

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                Kappo Nami Nami
                240 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                Estrellita Restaurant
                971 N San Antonio Rd, Los Altos, CA 94022

                Restaurant Zitune
                325 Main St, Los Altos, CA 94022

                Kabul Afghan Cuisine
                833 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                Spicy Leaves Indian Cuisine
                4546 El Camino Real #A5, Los Altos, CA

                Sakoon
                357 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                Madura Indian Cuisine
                1635 Hollenbeck Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                Bona Restaurant
                651 Oak Grove Ave, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                1. re: mdg

                  I'm not familiar with SF and Berkeley's Mediterranean dining scene, but Dish Dash is an amazing restaurant (Sunnyvale)

                  http://www.dishdash.net/

                  Great Kenafeh, lamb dishes, and falafel.

                  But of course if you are in the South Bay, the best falafel is actually at the Falafel Drive In...very 50s burgers and shakes like, but it's a must and tech geek cult favorite. Mama Chen would then be about...15 mins drive on Stevens Creek from there?

                  Robert can probably skip Kappo Nami Nami, since Kappou Goumi might be slightly better in SF from a hunch....KNN is a bit more modernized in its approach.

                  If Ippudo in Berkeley is as good as Sumika (in terms of yakitori), if not better, there is probably no need for Robert to go to Sumika (or the potentially lesser quality albeit cheaper competition in the South Bay).

                  I'm curious how Jang Su Jang or other lesser known Korean restaurants in the area....how they might stack up to the authentic ones around Oakland.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      I think Ippuku is on the same playing field as Sumika.
                      Oakland Korean is also on par with santa clara, i.e. pyung chang tofu like so gong dong tofu.
                      out of that list, you should try Gochi first, then Dish Dash.

                      1. re: ankimo

                        Agreed that Oakland and Santa Clara Korean are on par, but Santa Clara definitely has the edge in numbers. I'd give Sui Tofu a shot for soondubu, their homemade tofu is definitely original. I also liked Choi's Kitchen for Kimchi chigae and Wu guh ji kalbi tang (shortrib soup).

                        Bun Bo Hue An Nam is the best BBH I've had.

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                        Choi's
                        3530 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95051

                        Sui Tofu
                        2777 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA

                    2. re: K K

                      big fan of Gochi.
                      Also if you're passing by Mountain View, swing by Amber India and/or Sakoon for great Indian.

                      -----
                      Amber India Restaurant
                      2290 El Camino Real Suite 9, Mountain View, CA 94040

                      Sakoon
                      357 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041

                      1. re: K K

                        I strongly disagree regarding Falafel Drive Inn. Cult favorite, yes, worth a stop ONCE, yes, get the banana shake, yes, but the actual quality of the falafel is low. The bread is very poor (pita instead of nice grilled lavash), the sauce doesn't have a strong tahini or lemon taste, the tomato and lettuce is low quality, the hot sauce needs work. The falafel balls them selves are OK, but only OK. Go up to Med Delight in PA and you'll taste what falafel can really be. All 3 of the places on Solano Ave blow away Falafel drive inn.

                        I will say Bona should be on your list, even though it's kind of annoying from the freeway, and I'd consider Iberia. Of all the tapas joints, Iberia actually feels like it's been airlifted out of spain - it's just different. The one underrated Japanese place would be Kaygetsu, which is quite close to 280. I don't think anywhere else in greater PA is worth consideration, knowing your range of taste.

                        1. re: bbulkow

                          I agree that Falafel Drive-In is highly overrated. If you're looking for a quality falafel not far from 880 in Fremont try

                          Falafel Etc. 39200 Fremont Blvd
                          (at Mowry Ave) Fremont, CA 94538

                          Falafeletc.com

                          Their falafels are much more authentic and they put pickled cabbage and quality tahini on them as well. Worth a small jaunt off the freeway for at least. The shwarma there, on the other hand, is bland and kinda dry. For that try Wrap This in Santa Clara.

                          2281 The Alameda
                          Santa Clara, CA 95050

                          They have regular chicken as well as tandoori shwarma wraps that are awesome.

                          -----
                          Falafel Etc
                          39200 Fremont Blvd, Fremont, CA 94538

                          Wrap This
                          2281 The Alameda, Santa Clara, CA 95050

                        2. re: K K

                          I tried Dishdash the other night. My favorite thing was the free basil seed? dip they bring out with the pita. I got the maza sampler, the two little falafel were fabulous, the other things ranged from pretty good to meh. One was oversalted. Lovely spot.

                          -----
                          Dishdash Restaurant
                          190 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Mansaf is the destination dish at Dishdash. Unlike many other places, I've found mains at Dishdash to be considerably stronger than the appetizers.

                            Michael

                            -----
                            Dishdash Restaurant
                            190 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

                        3. re: mdg

                          Link:

                          -----
                          Kappo Nami Nami
                          240 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                          1. re: mdg

                            Spicy Leaves
                            I was sooo excited to eat Sri Lankan food, but they aren't really doing any lunch time sri lankan. Talked to the server and he said if you called that the night chef would do a specific sri lankan meal. Beef Devil! Nice buffet though. I think its around 11 bucks. Really good variety/quality though.

                        4. Probably too late for this trip but please add Little Shanghai San Mateo to your list. It's a wonderful hole in the wall with very high quality food at excellent prices. Really good xlb too :)
                          I think it's under rated on the board, but easy to get to from 101 and quick to get to 92 (or back to 101) per your route.
                          http://www.chow.com/restaurants/16381...

                          -----
                          Little Shanghai
                          17 E 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

                          1. I remember someone posting on another thread that Nha Toi is closed according to Yelp - I hope it's not true.

                            I've had some really good meals at Tamarine, but my last (very recent) one was really disappointing - their appetizers have taken a turn for the pan-Asian, with a loss of their stellar banh khot (although they apparently do rotate it on the menu sometimes). Overall, more sweet gloppy sauce than in the past. Their cellophane noodles with crab are still good though.

                            You can drop Krung Thai - it's probably the best Thai in that area but your regular SF and East Bay spots are better.

                            I was not impressed with Dasaprakash the one time I went, but that was a long time ago.

                            Assuming they're all as good as they were at my last visit (which may have been a few years ago,) yes to Chat Patta Corner, ASJ, Hyderabad, and Saravana Bhavan.

                            -----
                            Tamarine Restaurant
                            546 University Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94301

                            Chat Patta Corner
                            34751 Ardenwood Blvd, Fremont, CA 94555

                            ASJ Restaurant
                            1698 Hostetter Rd, San Jose, CA 95131

                            Nha Toi Restaurant
                            460 E William St, San Jose, CA 95112

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

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: daveena

                              Yes, of that list, Dasaprakash, Junoon, and the horrific South Legend seem very skippable to me - but other folks love them. Mantra used to be good with the original chef, but he's in San Mateo now at All Spice, which we should probably add to Robert's list.

                              Glad to hear that you enjoyed Nami Nami!

                              Michael

                              -----
                              All Spice Restaurant
                              1602 S El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94402

                              1. re: daveena

                                Unfortunately, the rumor about Nha Toi is true.

                                -----
                                Nha Toi Restaurant
                                460 E William St, San Jose, CA 95112

                              2. Hello Bay Area hounds,

                                It's been a few years since I've visited your board but I wanted to post a quick note to thank you all for your (as always!) comprehensive lists and opinions.

                                My brother and sister in law have recently moved to Mountain View. As a Christmas present for them I'm putting together a gift basket of my own devising (my own Scandinavian holiday baking plus various treats from Chicago and nearby) and thought I'd throw in a couple restaurant.com certificates to places near Mountain View, since restaurant.com is currently offering 80% off on $25 certificates. Of course most of the places on the restaurant.com list sound completely pedestrian or dreadful, but by scanning the comments in this thread I was able to pick out a couple places that I am sure my brother and sister in law will enjoy -- Spicy Leaves in Los Altos and Shiok in Menlo Park. (Nha Toi is also listed on restaurant.com but given the rumor that it may have closed I didn't risk it.)

                                Anyway, thanks again for providing such rich data. And if any of you are looking for stocking stuffers, a $25 certificate for $2 or for $3.50 is hard to beat! :-) [NB: You may have to sign up for their email list to get the 80% off offer.]

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Amata

                                  How nice of you to drop in again, dear Amata, after such a long absence with this tip for the holidays. Don't be a stranger.