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Coffee & Tea 12

03/08 Newark Ca.- Burmese fermented tea leaves, and Southern Indian buffet at Udipi Palace

opinionatedchef | Apr 2, 200812:19 AM

We drove down from Napa to Newark Ca. today, the last day of our terrific annual Ca. vaca. Great thanks to Melanie Wong and all the other SF CHs who prepared and then linked me to all the very detailed info about the only known local source for Tea Leaf Salad ingredients. BTW, Amy,the owner of the Good Luck store/ importer of said ingredients, told me that Burma Superstar buys their tea leaves there! (So i'm going to guess that if there WERE a more SF- central vendor, Burma Superstar would be buying from them, rather than driving out to Newark.This is such an idiosyncratic vendor; whoever originally sleuthed this source really deserves a great hats off!)

Anyway, I loaded up on all the tea leaf salad components plus mohonga(sp.) and the lentil crackers/puffs to crumble on top of it. I overbought, as usual (convinced I'll never have the chance again) and I think maybe I should throw a Tea Leaf Salad party when I get back.....
and invite my town.

We missed the 1pm cut off for lunch at Tirupathi Bhimas so we went to Udipi Palace in the strip mall across the street from Good Luck's mall. After conferring with a delighted/delightful group of Indian American women just finishing their lunch, we opted for the ridiculously low priced buffet with its 20? items. No regrets ! It was 2:30 PM, late for the buffet, and the items were not terrifically hot, but i asked for a few of the fried /griddled items to be brought out fresh and crispy, and that was a wise move.Of the bready items, i thought the potato dosa were good but not great, and the uddapam was excellent.and much easier to eat- in its pancake size- than in its traditional size.Most of the items i had had before, but those that i had not and that I particularly enjoyed were the "Tamarind rice' and the Tomato Eggplant Curry and the Tomato Chutney and the Green Bean Cabbage Coconut dish and the Carrot Farina dessert. I really couldn't believe the $8 p.p.price.

When we were exiting the restaurant, I flashed back to a 2006 CH-recommended trek I went on for Southern Indian food in Bethesda Md. That food was dreadful compared to the tasty things i had today. I found it interesting that I didn't detect asofetida(sp.) in today's foods, (which can really go right through you) and i'm wondering if this ground garlic-flavored root is not commonly used in udipi food......

Again, thanks to all concerned for today's great CH experiences.

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