Long, long ago when I used to spend my summers in Bangalore, one of the most enjoyable things for me was the roadside Indo-Chinese food I used to eat for dinner. This was usually noodles or fried rice with cauliflower manchurian to go with it. The bill was Rs.15 and it filled up one stomach in a way that nothing else could do for Rs.15. And was it tasty and filling beyond words.
Fast forward to earlier this year when I was in Seattle for a business trip. It was a typical Seattle day- gloomy, wet and worthy of a warm lunch. I googled and stumbled upon an IndoChinese place in the neighborhood – InChin’s Bamboo Garden. I decided to give it a shot and it was well worth it (more on that later). So when I found out that they had opened a location in the Bay Area, I couldn’t wait to try it. I tried a few times to make it happen in the past few weeks and finally got not one but three opportunities this week. So here is my review of the vegetarian offerings from two trips to InChin in Sunnyvale, CA.
My first trip to Inchin’s was for a weekday lunch with two other people. The second trip was with 30 other people for a weekday lunch again. The third and most recent trip was a dinner with family. The menu offers a bunch of vegetarian options and worth a few trips of dining. I tried quite a few vegetarian dishes during these three trips and now have a good feel for what Inchin’s offers. In the appetizer category, I tried the chili cassava – a kind of thick cut fries with cassava (tapioca) and dry tossed in a chili mix. The result is a spicy and addictive appetizer. Definitely keep it away from your place at the table. It gets hard to resist pretty quickly. I also tried the spring rolls (part of lunch menu), the pan fried chili paneer (a good non spicy alternative) and the Chinese bhel which is very tasty. On the drinks side, I sampled the lemon masala soda which is really Inchin’s version of jaljeera done very well.
I liked their hot and sour soup with a little more salt than they offer by default. An excellent soul food option on a winter evening.
On the entree side, I got a chance to sample a bunch of them across my three trips. In order of how much I liked them:
1. Shanghai potatoes (very tasty and well cooked potato slices in a nice chili garlic sauce)
2. Cauliflower manchurian (meets expectations for an Indo-chinese favorite)
3. Paneer Tomato Chili
To accompany these dishes, I highly recommend the Curry noodles and the hakka noodles. The former is nice and spicy especially on a chill evening. The hakka noodles is not spicy and works well with kids and those who prefer a non-spicy dish as an entree.
And then there is the dessert. So here is the tricky part- the two desserts I sampled and loved have to be shared. They are not meant to be eaten by one person. And that is not just because they are decadent but because they tend to get cloyingly sweet after a point and you wont realize it until its too late. I have now tried the Darsaan (vanilla ice cream with honey fried noodles) and Date wontons. The date wontons can have an oily feeling but I still liked it because it is not as sweet as the Darsaan but then again, the honey fried noodles are unputdownable with the vanilla ice cream.
Ambiance: 8.75/10. Place is nice, dimly lit and exotic. The wall paintings are sparse yet interesting. Liked it.
Service: 8.5/10. Some dishes take time (especially the dessert). Others arrive pretty quickly like the soup and lunch menu items in the afternoon.
Food: 9/10. Loved it.
Price: 8.25/10. Not cheap. But for the taste and ambiance, on par for the course.
Restroom: 8.5/10. Clean and pleasant (for now).
Overall: 9/10. If you have not figured it out by now, I thoroughly enjoyed my three trips to InChin’s. The food is spicy and tasty and interesting. The one downside of tasty food- it is a pain to get seated immediately. There is almost always a wait. So be prepared for it. Highly recommended.