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Oct 12, 2011 08:58 PM

Best Example from San Jose/South Bay not availble in SF

I'm looking for a place to lunch in San Jose/South Bay on Sunday afternoon. I'm thinking something that I can't get in SF (I don't get this far south all the often). Regional or other specialized Vietnamese? Obscure Ethiopian?

Question: What's the best inexpensive food available in San Jose/South Bay that's not available in SF or way better then what's in SF?

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  1. Our Indian food is generally better than what's in San Francisco, but at lunchtime you'll get the buffets where the quality difference is minimized. Fortunately some of the great south Indian vegetarian places in Sunnyvale are buffet free, including Madura and Madras Cafe. Madura has great rava dosas and rice dishes; Madras Cafe has great dosas. Saravanaa Bhavan is another popular choice in Sunnyvale for this cuisine.

    Vietnamese might be another good option but I'm too far away from the best places to have good lunch advice.

    Oren's Hummus Shop in downtown Palo Alto has fabulous Israeli hummus, which is something I haven't heard raves about in San Francisco.


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

    Madras Cafe
    1177 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

    Madura Indian Cuisine
    1635 Hollenbeck Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

    Oren's Hummus Shop
    261 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301

    1 Reply
    1. re: mdg

      Vung Tau, downtown San Jose, for Vietnamese.
      Outstanding Ethiopian: Cafe Rehoboth near downtown (in Japantown), or Zeni further south but still in San Jose.

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

    2. Oren's is a great rec, but depends on where you are. The south bay is a big place. Oren's is CHEAP too.

      Sometimes, out of nostalgia, I stop by Falafel's drive inn (sic), because it's a south bay original. I'm reminded how good their falafel balls are, how lousy the hot sauce / bread veg is, and how great their banana shakes are.

      1. Not available in SF: Muslim Chinese at Darda or Chinjin (very different style than Old Mandarin Islamic), hot pot at Little Sheep (ditto), Hue-style Vietnamese at My Khe Quan Hue, Cuban at Habana.

        I'm not sure there's anything in the Vietnamese food courts at Grand Century (across the street from My Khe) and Lion Tully that you can't get in SF, but they're great.

        I don't think regular Vietnamese or Indian is that much better than in SF.

        Darda Seafood Restaurant
        296 Barber Ct, Milpitas, CA 95035

        Habana Cuba
        238 Race Street, San Jose, CA 95126

        Grand Century Shopping Mall
        1001 Story Rd, San Jose, CA

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

        My Khe Quan Hue
        960 Story Rd, San Jose, CA 95122

        Lion Tully
        1710 Tully Rd, San Jose, CA

        4 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I like the sound of the Hue style vietnamese but don't really know much about what that means. Can you recommend some dishes that are particular/emblematic of Hue flavors?

          Are either Darda or Chinjin far western style or are they still more northern style (like old islamic)? I really enjoyed to food in Urumqi and Kashgar (pilaf, grilled lamb, naan, samsas, chickpea salads etc.) and would love to find a place serving that cuisine.

          1. re: boris_qd

            The menus at Darda and Chinjin are quite different from Old Mandarin's, and Chinjin's noodles are much better, but I think the only dishes like you're describing are the three Xinjiang dishes at Darda:


            If you search for Dongbei you'll find some reports.

            1. re: boris_qd

              Report on My Khe Quan Hue:


              The place I go to the most down there is Martins West (Cal-Scottish gastropub). Nice place to relax after work and wait for the traffic to die down.

              Martins West
              831 Main Street, Redwood City, CA 94063

              My Khe Quan Hue
              960 Story Rd, San Jose, CA 95122

              1. re: boris_qd

                Second My Khe, my mom is from Hue and every time she visits we always go there. bun bo hue is really good but so is the Mi Quang, it has egg noodles and I have never really seen it anywhere else.

                Also recommend the appetizers like the banh beo, banh bot loc but definitely the banh ram it, so tasty

            2. Definitely better ramen in the South Bay. Misoya, Orenchi, Santouka, Ramen Tenma (for the Okinawan soba).

              Asian style bakeries with Western touches:

              Paris Baguette (Santa Clara, Palo Alto) - Korean style
              Kee Wah (Cupertino, Milpitas, Dublin) - an import branch out of Hong Kong, modern, elegant, with some fusion and traditional touches
              Satura - Japanese with French touches (Los Altos)

              Some purists prefer Taiwanese style beef noodle soup in the South Bay (almost zero options in SF and nothing really that good)....A&J in Cupertino Village and ASJ in San Jose (ditto for Taiwanese style fried chicken thigh rice plate or their fried bone in pork chops), Mama Chen in Santa Clara (one stop shop for Taiwanese style small plates/snacks like the street food vendors in Taiwan, your mileage may vary and cash only).

              Shanghai Flavor Shop (Sunnyvale) - one of the best pan fried "juicy" "soupy" pork buns around, greasy divey kind of place where they specialize in this item (no XLB on the menu). Some yelpers prefer Shanghai Garden in Cupertino for their rendition but I did not like it one bit.

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

              ASJ Restaurant
              1698 Hostetter Rd, San Jose, CA 95131

              Paris Baguette
              3561 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA

              Shanghai Garden Restaurant
              471 Entrada Dr, Novato, CA 94949

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

              Ramen Tenma
              487 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

              675 Saratoga Ave, San Jose, CA 95129

              1 Reply
              1. re: K K

                Came back to this thread because it's one of the few mentions of Shanghai Garden in Cupertino. We were out for the movies at the Blue Light Cinema (which recently raised ticket prices to $6 for weekends, and still shows movies on actual film), and I had promised dumplings earlier in the day but misrouted to Mama Chef (which perhaps is Mama Chen in the above list) which has great taiwanese noodles but no dumplings. Thus dumplings for dinner.

                Shanghai Garden is a pleasantly sized place, maybe 20ish tables, that did exactly feel like a place in shanghai. I commented to GF "you don't go to china, china go to you".

                We just had a plate of XLB and one of SJB. The SJB was noted heavily by Yelpers but we didn't enjoy it - that is, it was impossible to eat. SJB should be grippable by the crusty bottom, which was miserly, so somehow they slipped all over the place.

                The XLB were pretty swank, to my taste. The skins were very delicate - the best I've seen recently - and the soup ratio was generous. The taste could have been richer but was plenty rich.

                All the tables around were covered with pan-chinese food. You'd see dry cooked chicken with chilis, kind of like 1000-chili chicken, and a nice calm fish dish. The locals seemed to greatly enjoy the place.

                Price seemed low on menu (about $6 for dumplings) but somehow we walked out $18 lighter with tax and tip. I suppose that math works out about right (maybe it was $6.99).

              2. Gulzaar on West San Carlos in San Jose is a very tiny Pakistani place and very inexpensive. I have only had 1/2 of two samosas. Both were excellent and flavorful. If there is anything like this in San Francisco or the East Bay, I have never heard about it

                1880 W San Carlos St, San Jose, CA

                3 Replies
                1. re: wally

                  There are lots of Pakistani places in SF, I thnk all of the "Indian" restaurants are except for Udupi, Dosa, New Ganges, and Viva Goa. I didn't find Gulzaar exciting enough to go twice:


                  1880 W San Carlos St, San Jose, CA

                  1. re: wally

                    " The biriyani is complex and includes some lentils. I'd go out of my way to get this again."
                    Robert Lauriston, Mar 9, 2011 12:37PM

                    1. re: wolfe

                      That's what I thought that day, but even though for the next seven months I was working ten minutes away and it was three blocks off the freeway from my commute, I never did.