Aachi Aappakadai - Chettinad in Santa Clara
After seeing lots of raves from bbulkow and others about this new Chettinad restaurant in Santa Clara, we finally tried it. Everything was good. We had two of the weekend specials. The Nethili Meen Fry (Indian fried anchovies) made a great start, and the Ennai Kathirikai eggplant special was our favorite dish of the bunch. We also had the Aappam with Goat Curry from the regular menu. The aappam was very interesting and tasty; the goat curry was fine and made a nice complement.
All of these dishes were new to me. I'll have to get back another weekend where they have the goat paya available, but there are still lots of new things to try here. This was my first time at a Chettinad restaurant; it's great to discover these new tastes!
3075 El Camino Real, Santa Clara
My brother and I tried it last week for lunch. We missed out on the one-time Diwali dishes, well, all but the Aachi fried chicken which continued on the daily specials board. We'd been to this venue before for Korean fried chicken when it was Tutti's.
Cauliflower 65 – We almost always order Chicken 65 when we see it, but this time we bypassed it for the Gobi 65. It looked almost like a chicken version with bright red hue and cut into bite-size pieces of about the same size. I had wondered what the texture might be like --- hard, mushy, chewy? And it turned out better than I imagined with the delicate crispness of the thinnest of dustings segueing to tender and naturally sweet cauliflower. Quite delicious with a squeeze of lemon and a bite of slivered red onions, and like most fried things, at peak when hot out of the fryer.
Aachi fried chicken – Two leg quarters, masala spiced but very overcooked and verging on stringy.
Idyappam Meen Kulambu – Idiyappam (called stringhoppers in Sri Lanka) seemed fresher and finer gauge than the two other times I’ve run across them. The catfish curry had a bright fruitiness and balancing acidity, but the catfish was overcooked and on the dry side. The skin was very muddy tasting. This was medium in heat, not as spicy as I expected to find here.
A closer look at the catfish kozhambu-style curry and the stringhoppers,
Aappam – The aappam plates come with two per order, so they’re easy to share. This was our first experience with them, and we’re aappam converts. These tasted more sweet than tart from fermentation. The change in texture from the spongy and chewier thickish middle to the crispness of the thin edges was fun to play around with.
Goat curry – Coconut based and full-bodied with collagen from the cooked on the bone pieces of tender goat, this was a rich stew. We chewed the soft connective tissue and succulent meat off the spindly bones and mopped up the sauce with our aappams. This was a bit hotter than the catfish dish but not as spicy nor complex as other South Indian goat curries I’ve tried. Yet, the combination was still very satisfying.
I also had a fresh watermelon juice. While not every dish was a winner, we liked this place and would return. A 10% discount is offered if you pay cash. One downside to being here on a Monday is that Real Ice Cream right behind this restaurant is closed, so no dessert. But I did have my car washed next door, and that was a good deal at $7 for hand washed.
More about stringhoppers,