Peacock Indian Restaurant in Mountain View
Two weeks ago we headed to the Mountain View branch of Peacock Indian Restaurant encouraged by several favorable mentions by “mdg”. Peacock became a target because the appetizer menu offers several selections of fried chicken in the desired price range for the July Dish of the Month. My intended plan of attack was to order all five preps and I’d borrowed a friend’s teenage boy to help us eat them. However at ordering time, our waiter protested, saying it was too much food for us, adding that the preparations were too similar. Even after I pointed to our hungry-looking teenager, he stood his ground insisting that two appetizers would be more than enough. We compromised at three, eliminating the chilli chicken and chicken Manchurian in this round.
Here’s what we tried:
Chicken 65, $7.99 – Awhile back, my brother and I were on a tear ordering this Desi-Chinese dish as often as we could. This was fun opportunity to circle back to revisit a former and still somewhat obscure object of desire. Dyed bright orange-red, these chunks of halal chicken were notably moist and tender, as well as less oily than other versions we’ve tried. Applying Chinese technique, the chicken’s marinated, lightly battered, deep-fried, and then dry-fried with the Indian spiced sauce and fresh curry leaves. Pleasant but somewhat muted in seasoning and not very complex.
Chicken Masakkalli (sic), $7.99 – A new one for me, I had never heard of this. Before our meal, I searched for a description of this dish in the old country and found nothing. Asking our waiter about its origins, he smiled and said it was a specialty of the Peacock group of restaurants, named after the song, Masakali, popularized in a 2009 Bollywood film. The cubes of chicken were prepped in the same way as the Chicken 65, but spiced differently, tossed with a seasoned salt blended with what Peacock calls Masakkalli masala plus curry leaves, fresh ginger, chopped cilantro, and more. Very enticing aromatics, the flavor impact was deeply savory and complex yet in a way that enhanced the natural flavor of the chicken rather than masking it. My favorite dish of the night.
Chicken lollipop, $7.99 – Skinless drummettes with the flesh scraped and pushed to the end of the bone, dusted and fried developed a thin crunchy exterior crust and juicy meat. The lollipops were well-seasoned to be tasty on their own, but get even better with a dunk in the tart, spicy and delicately sweet dipping sauce.
Palak paneer, $8.99 – Soft and buttery cubes of fresh cheese combined with very fresh tasting and lightly spiced spinach puree whipped to maximum fluffiness. A rich, dairy-laden version that tasted like butter and drenched in more butter yet again. Quite liked this in combination with the excellent garlic naan, $2.50, which itself was brushed with ghee.
Upma pesarattu, $7.99 – This green-tinged moong dal pancake stayed crispy to the very last bite. The soft dense texture of the mildly piquant filling of semolina studded with nuts made for great textural and flavor contrast.
Jaggayyapeta dosa, Peacock special, $5.99 – Layered with a special spice mixture, this dosa was oddly soft and seemed just a bit too thick. A more pronounced sour fermented taste and intriguing seasonings but the lack of crispness was a turn-off.
The tomato chutney packed a kick and the coconut one was a touch too earthy for my taste. That said, these were still above average. The standout of the dosa accompaniments was the many-nuanced sambar. Not as thickish on the palate, the lighter body was studded with cubes of well-cooked carrot and opo squash. Not a drop was left behind.
Gulab jamun, $3.99 - At meal’s end we considered ordering one more of the fried chicken options, but instead decided on something sweet. Finding none of the cakes on display visually appealing, we settled on gulab jamun. Served warm, the syrup bathing the spongey balls was pretty restrained in sweetness and rosewater.
After this successful first visit, I’m sure to return. I’ll note that William liked this meal so much, he was back two days later with some friends before catching the fireworks at Shoreline. He ordered the chicken masakkalli and chicken lollipops again. He also tried another Desi Chinese dish, chicken Manchurian, and described it as a superior sweet and sour chicken balanced with spicy heat and just a glaze instead of the goopy sauce of Chinese-American presentations.
July 2012 Dish of the Month
Glad you enjoyed it! I think this is my favorite all-around Indian restaurant in this price range, which is convenient since it's also the closest.
I think the only dish that I've ordered that you had was the palak paneer; my fried dish experience has been limited to the excellent apollo fish. This was the first place I found that did a good rendition after being introduced to it at Marigold many years ago. The biryanis are excellent; the chapati is my favorite in the area; the curries I've had have all been top notch. I haven't had much from the tandoor; guess I should fix that sometime! For dosas I tend to stick to the vegetarian specialists.
My brother ordered one of the biryanis his second trip, one with bones, and reported that it was very good. Usually I'd go to a veg So Indian place for dosas too, but I'm glad we tried them here, especiall the pesarattu.
I want to order the apollo fish next.
Wonder if anyone has tried the other locations of Peacock?
Wondering if you've had the chana bhatura here? Just remembered that during my meal, William said, "Don't turn around, but the man behind you has the biggest grin on his face. So would I if that big puffy channa bhatura was put on my table." I had seen the waiter walk by with the tray and indeed it did look wonderful.
Went here the other day and had the Chicken Masakali, Hyderabadi Vegetarian Biryani, and the Upma persattu. Everything including the accompanying chutneys was well flavored and spicy except for the coconut chutney which was tasty but lacked "zing."
A caveat is I found the chicken quality of the Masakali off-putting - not only dry but had that funky chicken-y taste of old/quick thawed chicken.
I stopped by Peacock last night
Chicken 65 - I thought it was pretty good, after my big Chicken 65 roundup last year. The deep fried inner core was tender, the outside was muted as Melanie says but a good counterpoint, lots of lemon and maybe another spice hanging around. Small chunks (good) and toothpicks. This lead to a long discussion of GF about why there is no chicken 65 near our house - 4 indian places on University Ave, no chicken 65.
Chettinad Chicken - a pale example. Not too much chicken, what there was was tender and fall off the bone - and not much bone to fight. The gravy itself had a decent taste but no chettinad.
Jaggayyapeta dosa - we haven't been eating dosas much and any dosa is a good dosa at some point. It wasn't a super thin crispy, which is OK, and the sauces were average.
Overall, not a standout but pleasant enough - and close to 85 so a quick traipse. The place was nearly empty, and we considered going to Belmont but didn't. Might be the northern most and more accessible of similar type restaurants in Sunnyvale.
re: Melanie Wong
I'm not sure. Everyone was eating the buffet. When we went in, they just said "You can go to the buffet now." It was actually pretty popular and decent for 9.99. But... buffet food.
There was chai, salted lassi, salad, rasam, sambar, onion pakora (which were delicious), veg biriyani, biryani sauce, okra fry, kadai paneer, dal, chicken biriyani, chicken masakkali (which was really dried out), and the ubiquitous butter chicken and chicken tandoori.