I’m all about the hard to find ethnic hole-in-the-walls where you can get great food on the cheap. Well, Annapurna definitely has the hard to find ethnic hole-in-wall part down as it’s hidden in an office park jungle and only has six tables, but after my experience eating there yesterday I can see it needs to work a lot on the great food and the cheap part.
$8.95 gets you a vegetarian thali lunch. Unfortunately there’s no description ahead of time to let you know what that day’s offerings are. The thali includes two vegetarian dishes, rice, rice crisp and pappadam shards, several pooris, sambar, something that looks like Corn Pops, and a drink. Other reviews have mentioned that their meal included chutney pickle and a dessert. Mine included neither. Also, although the server did tell me to let him know if I needed anything else, I didn’t take this at the time to mean second helpings, as I read now in other reviews are available for free.
Mung bean dal – I only was able to eat two small bites. It had a strong sour taste.
Pea, potato, eggplant curry – This was the best thing in my thali, but that’s not saying a whole lot. It was too oily and had started to congeal.
Rice – The rice was fine.
Poori – There were four small pieces of poori which was pretty generous. However, they were all cold – probably because I arrived at 1:45. If they’re going to serve lunch until 2:30, I think all the food they serve should be the correct temperature. Given the calories of eating bread that’s been fried, I only think it’s worth it if it’s warm, so I only ate one poori.
Sambar – Since the mung bean dal was a strike-out, this was the second half of my meal. I thought it was slightly too ketchup-y tasting (not that it looked like ketchup; just that it was sweet in the same way), and wasn’t one of the better sambars I’ve had. I will say that the spiciness level of the sambar and the curry was perfect.
Pappadam shards and rice crisps – These were fine.
Puffed corn with puffed red/pink balls – I’m not sure what this was (maybe this was the missing dessert) but it looked like Corn Pops mixed with my Smurfberry Crunch cereal from the 80s, and didn’t taste all that far off. It was a little sweet and much too artificial tasting.
Drink – It seemed to be a thin, salty yogurt-y drink, and I avoided it after a single sip.
Basically my whole meal was the pea, potato, and eggplant curry and the sambar, neither of which were all that good. If I came across them in a buffet I would have avoided them after a few bites. However, since that and some pappadam shards were all I had, that was my lunch.
I’m really surprised that this thali lunch costs $8.95, and from past reviews it appears the price was only $6 a year ago. Assuming the food was good (which it wasn’t), $6 is more in line with what should be charged, even with multiple servings. For $8.95 I would have much rather had lunch at Mayuri where my $8.95 could have been spent towards a great, constantly restocked lunch buffet or at Kabab and Currys where for less I could have had exceptional chicken boti kabob or chicken tikka masala.
I got back to my car after eating at Annapurna and thought, “I just spent 10 dollars on a lunch I half-heartedly picked at, and I’ll probably be hungry in two hours.”
1112 Elko Drive
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
Next on my list to try: Swathi Tiffins. Any recommendations on what to order there?
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