Thanks to recommendations on this board, we ate at Annapoorna last night.
Not wanting to limit ourselves, we chose a la carte selections from the very reasonably priced menu. Our favorites were Medu Vada (3.75), 2 savory donuts filled with dabs of vegetable and Indian spices; Onion Hot Chilli Utthappam (5.75), a large round of cooked, lightly fermented rice-and-lentil dough topped with thin slices of rather hot, fresh green chillis; Annapoorna Special Kitchadi (6.25), a bowl of semolina noodle-like substance also flavored with vegetables and maybe beans (I wasn't taking notes and it's hard to remember which combo was in what) that some might find overcooked but to me seemed like Indian comfort food and maybe even sickbed food. And best of all, Special Spring Dosa (6.95)--so huge the waiter had cut it into two burrito-sized lengths, though this was better than any burrito I've ever eaten. The delicious Indian pancake dough--similar, if not identical, to the one described above but with a fluffier texture--held a melange of alternately sour, hot, crunchy, tender raw vegetables.
Actually, the only items we tried we didn't love were too mild, too oily Chilli Pakora (about 9/3.75) and the Idly (2/3.75), sort of a rice version of baked polenta and probably just a cultivated taste. I recall a number of years ago trying this at Helen of India, not too far from where Annapoorna is located, and liking it better, but that may have been a seasoned version. There were seemingly similar, perhaps identical, dipping sauces served that were really unnecessary with everything other than the idly and, perhaps, the complimentary papads (lentil flour wafers), given the wonderful flavors of the many dishes we tried.
I washed the meal down with Mango Lassi (2.50), a mango-yogurt drink, one of my favorite tastes anywhere.
A cousin of the owners who works part time waited on us and insisted on bringing us combo plates that included various of the items we chose in order to save us a dollar or two! He was very helpful and patient, answering my many questions and defining terms.
As previously mentioned, this is a vegetarian establishment. Also, I saw no alcohol mentioned on the menu.
2299 S. El Camino; 650-345-4366; open daily for lunch and for dinner till 10.
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