South Indian vegetarian cuisine at Sangeetha’s in Sunnyvale, CA

Updated on Sept 28, 2014:

I revisited Sangeetha’s, 6 months after my first visit when they had just opened. I hoped that they had fixed all the issues that plagued them during launch. I am happy to report that much of my concerns are now alleviated with a couple of minor quibbles. So here is my update to the original review.

We were a big group on a Sunday brunch. We arrived at 11:45 when things were still very quiet. We got seated almost immediately and service was much better than the first time. Food arrived fairly quickly and was pretty tasty. The Poori-masala came in for good reviews. I ordered the mini-tiffin. It was pretty tasty. Overall, things were much improved from the first time. One other thing- the menu is no longer the original paper version that never made any sense to me. This one is of harder material and looked laminated. Much more sensible and usable now.

Now for my one complaint- I still find them too pricey for the quantity they provide. My mini-tiffin was $10 and I was half full. Most South Indian places in the Bay Area would fill you up with a mini-tiffin order. Given that the other dishes were in small portions, I went with the mini-tiffin but this was still insufficient. Sangeetha’s should consider lowering their price by a dollar or two or add more quantity.

I definitely plan to go to Sangeetha’s again and that in itself is a testament to their taste and ambiance.

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Original Post written on Apr 25, 2014:

This week, Sangeetha’s Vegetarian Restaurants, a popular South Indian chain opened the doors to their newest location in Sunnyvale, CA. Having heard so much about the SVR name, I wanted to give it a shot as soon as possible and share my thoughts with my audience here. Without further ado, here we go.

Sangeetha’s Bay Area location is conveniently located in the hotbed of Indian activity on the intersection of Halford Avenue and El Camino Real. It replaces the old Afghan Market restaurant that stood in the lot for a long time. There is a good amount of parking behind the restaurant. We were a group of 8 and we walked in at noon on a Friday afternoon. The restaurant had formally opened a day before on Thursday, April 24. The place was just starting to fill up for lunch and we were seated immediately.

SVR as they call themselves, is fairly spacious and well lit. The ambiance is simple without any embellishments. Some would call it bare. I am OK with the simple look as long as it is clean. The waiter stopped by with a menu “paper”. So here is my take on that.  I am all for recycling and conservation and such but having actual recycled paper menu makes no sense. One greasy hand and the menu is unusable. And given the number of greasy hands per day, it makes no sense. And I definitely don’t want to reuse a greasy menu from someone else. A laminated menu would be the smarter thing to do. I did like their simpler menu format and typography, but that is just me.

We wanted to eat an appetizer- paneer pakoras to be specific. To our dismay we found out that it was not available. One would think that on the second day, on what is a relatively simple menu, most if not all dishes would be available. Soon after, we discovered that half of the menu was not available. Parotta- nope. Tea- tough luck. Lassi- nada. I understand that this was Day 2 but not having multiple items on the menu during peak lunch hour on a Friday is bad PR.

Each of us ordered one or two dishes and all orders were in by 12:15 or so. And then the wait started. We watched as people streamed in. We watched others place orders. But we waited.  And here is the interesting part- three folks ordered the mini tiffin. Each one of them got it in a 10 minute interval. I had ordered a Rava dosa and a sambhar vadai. My sambhar vadai came in 15 minutes after I finished my dosa. We finished our lunch by 1:45pm. My post lunch meeting had been sacrificed at the altar of Sangeetha.

We were done and requested for the check. We waited and waited and waited to no avail. We walked up to the front desk and asked to pay. Still no luck. We finally got an incorrect check that billed us for half the items we had actually ordered. I gave my credit card and waited to sign it. Five minutes later, I ended up walking to the billing station, getting my card back and paying in cash. I was not happy. Nor was my group.

So about the food. In all the frustration and wait, I didn’t want to miss out writing about the food. The food was good. It was tasty. A tad spicy for a few but pretty tasty overall. I would consider it a pricey given the quantity – and I really request the management to review the quantity vs. price in other similar restaurants in the area. They will price themselves out of business otherwise.

For SVR, I am only offering a preliminary rating given that they are just a couple of days old. In due time, I hope that all the logistics be figured out and confusion and chaos will be replaced with order and control. I will visit the restaurant in a few weeks and revise my rating based on my experiences then.

Rating (updated on Sept 28):

Ambiance: 8.5/10. Clean and minimal.

Service: 8.5/10. Chaos overall. Slow would be an understatement. Lack of many dishes in the menu on day 2 was also disappointing.

Food: 8.5/10. A tad spicy but tasty.

Price: 7.5/10. For the price, not much food is offered. The only exception is the thali which was a good value for the $12. And what is with the miniscule amount of sambhar. Any South Indian will tell you- we eat the dosa for the sambhar. Scrimping on the sambhar is not cool.

Restroom: 9/10. Clean and new.

Overall: 8.25/10. Updated to reflect the much better service and overall happier experience. Price is still a sore point in an otherwise recommended place.