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Indian black-pepper chicken curry brings subtle, smoky spice at new Silicon Valley restaurant

Close-up of the Black Pepper Chicken Curry at Indian Street Cafe in Sunnyvale.

Close-up of the Black Pepper Chicken Curry at Indian Street Cafe in Sunnyvale.

Pieces of black peppercorns were stuck between my teeth after I was done, but it was worth it.

The black pepper chicken curry, prepared by the new Indian Street Cafe in Sunnyvale, is going to make me a regular customer at the restaurant. The chicken was so tender that no knife was needed to cut through it. The peppercorns throughout the dish brought a smoky spice and subtle, growing heat with every bite, and the cilantro added extra liveliness to the curry.

The entree, which cost about $9, came with a side of white rice and a fresh side salad. I would also recommend the paneer paratha, a white-flour flatbread filled with spiced and shredded paneer, a fresh, soft cheese common in Indian cuisine. The paneer paratha was warm and soft with a mild flavor and paired perfectly with the spicy curry.

The Ambiance

Indian Street Cafe is not buffet style, like several Indian restaurants in the area. The host takes your order near the front of the restaurant and gives you a number to set on your table. The waiter then brings your food to the table.

The Paneer Paratha at Indian Street Cafe in Sunnyvale.

The Paneer Paratha at Indian Street Cafe in Sunnyvale.

The setting is casual, with wooden cabin-like tables and benches to sit on, an exposed ceiling showing industrial piping and a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that look unto the street. Another wall is decorated with various foreign-film posters.

I also like the “Foodie Philosophy” mural near the kitchen, which states that the restaurant doesn’t microwave, freeze or deep-fry its foods. “We believe food is one of life’s greatest joys,” the mural states. “We aim to strike a balance between delicious and healthy.”

Other Details

Indian Street Cafe is located inside Arques Square strip mall at 927 E. Arques Ave. Use the door that is located inside of the plaza. The door located at the corner of Arques and De Guigne Drive was not accessible when I went this past week.

For hours and more information, call (669) 246-5034 or visit www.indianstreetcafe.com.

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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in chicken, food, Indian

 

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Fried chicken, collard greens satisfy at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food

The Fried Chicken at Lillie Mae's House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

The Fried Chicken at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

Last week was a week of firsts.

It was the first time I had seen a handful of my relatives from my dad’s side since I was six months old. It was their first time visiting California and enjoying its weather, coastline and festivities.

It was also the first time I indulged in the Southern home cooking of Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

Many times I’ve driven by this place, which looks like an old, large wooden shack that gives off aromas of smoked meat through the air. How I resisted this long is beyond me.

So my dad treated all of us to a meal of fried chicken, collard greens and other Southern-cooking delights.

Dish of Choice

I ordered the No. 7 dinner combination, which came with fried chicken and hot sausage links. The combo dinners are served with two sides and cornbread or hushpuppies. I chose collard greens, macaroni and cheese and cornbread. My portion of the meal cost $16.95 before tax.

The Macaroni and Cheese at Lillie Mae's House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

The Macaroni and Cheese at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

The Taste

This was one satisfying and indulgent meal with enough food to take home – if you don’t want to overstuff yourself.

The chicken was juicy, had a great crunch to the skin and just the right amount of salt and seasoning. I loved the mac and cheese, which had crispy, baked pieces of cheese throughout the soft, creamy noodles. The cornbread was thick, moist and had a subtle sweetness and golden-brown top.

The collard greens were seasoned just right and tasted like they had been stewing all day. The hot links were covered in a smoky, spicy sauce that gradually built up in heat as I ate. It was the kind of heat you feel right before you start getting sweat on your forehead.

I would highly recommend ordering one of the combo dinners to get a variety of soul food favorites.

The Collard Greens at Lillie Mae's House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

The Collard Greens at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

Other Details

My relatives loved Lillie Mae’s so much that they returned for one last meal before heading back to the East Coast. I was a little irritated that they went without me.

However, my dad brought me home two pieces of fried catfish, fried okra and a container of rich, thick and creamy banana pudding with crisp vanilla wafers on top. I wasn’t so irritated after that ;-).

Lillie Mae’s, located at 1290 Coleman Ave., is celebrating its fifth anniversary Saturday, Aug. 1 from 12 noon to 5 p.m. in the restaurant’s parking lot, according to its Facebook page. The celebration will feature a $5 menu of chicken and waffles, catfish, pork ribs and drinks, along with R&B music performed by J.C. Smith & Band.

For more information about Lillie Mae’s, call 408-227-7685 or visit www.lilliemaeshouse.com.

 

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Pesto and feta chicken crepe worth the wait at Mountain View’s Crepevine

Close-up of the Tuscany crepe at Mountain View's Crepevine.

Close-up of the Tuscany crepe at Mountain View’s Crepevine.

Whenever I venture out for brunch on a Sunday morning in the Bay Area, I always have to remind myself to have a snack before I go.

This helps prepare for the long wait that is bound to happen, and I tend to become increasingly hangry (that feeling of anger due to hunger) after the first 20 minutes of waiting for a table.

This past Fourth of July weekend, the line was out the door at Mountain View’s Crepevine, known for using fresh, organic and locally-grown ingredients. We had 10 ladies in our party, and I didn’t grab my snack (ugh).

However, I was pleasantly surprised by the efficiency of the waitstaff. It took about 25 minutes before I got to the counter to order my food, but the staff was already setting up our table while we waited in line. Although the place was crowded, the staff had a great handle on traffic control and getting diners to their seats in a timely fashion.

The Tuscany crepe at Mountain View's Crepevine.

The Tuscany crepe at Mountain View’s Crepevine.

Dish of Choice

I ordered the Tuscany, a crepe filled with chicken breast, mushrooms, tomatoes, roasted almonds, provolone, feta and pesto. The dish is served with potatoes or fries (I chose fries) and organic mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette. A gluten-free option is available for $1 more.

Along with a glass of sangria, my order cost about $22.

The Taste

Crepevine did not skimp on the ingredients. My crepe was jam-packed with tender chicken, which was moist and savory from the rich-flavored pesto. The pesto was a bit on the thin side, but it made for a great marinade for the chicken.

The crepe itself was light and crisp on the edges, and there was a generous amount of strong, hearty feta. The almonds added a toasty flavor and interesting texture to the dish. The fries were thickly cut, crispy on the outside and not greasy.

The Sangria at Mountain View's Crepevine.

The Sangria at Mountain View’s Crepevine.

The mixed salad was a welcomed fresh and light contrast to the rich, thick crepe, which was big enough to split with another person, in my opinion. There was a lot of food for a good price, and I took half of the entree home for later.

The sangria was strong, but not knock-you-on-your-butt strong, and there were plenty of fruit slices to add a great tropical flavor. I was hoping the restaurant had a white wine sangria because the red wine version tends to be a bit heavy for warm, summer weather. It was still a good cocktail worth trying.

Other Details

Crepevine has 10 locations throughout the San Francisco/San Jose Bay Area. The Mountain View restaurant is located at 300 Castro St. For more information, call the Mountain View location at (650) 969-6878 or visit www.crepevine.com.

 

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Chipotle sauce spices up bland chicken tacos at Sonoma Chicken Coop in San Jose

The Soft Chicken Tacos at Sonoma Chicken Coop in downtown San Jose's San Pedro Square.

The Soft Chicken Tacos at Sonoma Chicken Coop in downtown San Jose’s San Pedro Square.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day — or Anti-Valentine’s Day depending on your perspective on the holiday — a fellow single friend and I went out on the town. We decided to venture to downtown San Jose’s San Pedro Square, which offers an eclectic array of restaurants, pubs, and live-event venues. We wanted to grab a bite to eat, so we stopped at Sonoma Chicken Coop, a casual dining restaurant known for its rotisserie chicken.

Dish of Choice

Originally, I was going to choose the steak tacos, but the restaurant is known for its chicken. So I chose the soft chicken tacos, which came with a choice of three corn or flour tortillas. I chose the flour tortillas, which came with shredded chicken, cabbage and cheddar cheese. The entrée also came with a side each of chipotle sauce, salsa and guacamole. With a glass of water, my bill was about $12, including tax.

The Taste

The chicken tacos were not as flavorful as I would have liked. In fact, they were pretty bland. Although the chicken was somewhat tender, it was not as juicy as I had hoped, and there was no seasoning. The dish’s saving grace was its chipotle sauce, which was like an aioli, only a bit thinner. It added a great spice and zest to the chicken.

I did enjoy the fact that they used cabbage instead of lettuce. It had a nice crunch and more flavor than iceberg lettuce. The tacos definitely needed a side dish, such as rice or black beans. That would have added more heartiness and presentation.

I don’t want to judge the entire restaurant based on this one dish. My friend ordered the 1/4 chicken entrée, which looked succulent and full of flavor. I think I’ll choose that entrée next time.

The Ambiance

Sonoma Chicken Coop is a casual restaurant with a modern feel, where customers go up to the counter to order and pick up their food. I enjoyed their outdoor seating area at the San Pedro Square location, which was rustic and woodsy. There was a small bar outside for guests to enjoy a cocktail, a nice fireplace and plenty of seating for a special event such as a birthday or anniversary. Sonoma Chicken Coop in San Pedro Square is a nice place to stop for a bite to eat and a cocktail before venturing out for the rest of the night.

Other Details

Sonoma Chicken Coop is located at 31 N. Market St. in San Jose’s San Pedro Square and has three other San Jose locations as well as restaurants in Campbell and Parsippany, New Jersey. For hours and more information, call the San Pedro Square location at (408) 287-4098 or visit www.sonomachicken.com.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in Cal-Mex, chicken, Mexican, tacos

 

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