Inside Sunnyvale’s Indian Street Cafe (www.indianstreetcafe.com) are auto rickshaws, a bus, and a car as well as pop culture posters, all here to create a simulation of an actual Indian street. The Indian street fare is also worth coming for. For example, their mango lassi is blended with real fruit, whereas other restaurants might pre-make this popular Indian yogurt drink with syrup.
Marc Kaplan co-owns the restaurant with Arjun Vethody, whose father, Sunil Vethody, is the restaurant manager. According to Kaplan, there are no microwaves or freezers in the kitchen. All the food here is prepared fresh.
“When Arjun and I started this, we wanted a different kind of Indian restaurant, something that’s not a typical Indian restaurant,” Kaplan said. “Most Indian restaurants have plain walls with a picture of the Taj Mahal, maybe a Bollywood movie playing on TV. Decor is a big thing that we value. We want to create an authentic experience for the IT industry employees who work nearby and have lunch here.”
The recipes here come from both Southern and Northern India.
“The recipes come from Sunil and Arjun’s families. Sunil and Arjun are from the Kerala Province in Southern India,” Kaplan said. “The restaurant has also used recipes from our chefs, some of who are from Northern India. Southern Indian cuisine tends to be more spicy and has more things like dosa and vegetarian dishes. Northern Indian cuisine tends to come with meat-heavier dishes and heavier curries.”
In addition to a regular menu, the restaurant offers a weekday lunch and weekend brunch buffet. When asked for recommendations from the menu, Kaplan mentioned the restaurant’s malabar paratha, a layered flatbread that can be ordered with entrees.
“Something that is a fusion dish here is called the street cafe chicken,” Kaplan said. “It’s a fusion Indian and Chinese dish that is like a non-fried version of orange chicken but not quite. It is a spicy Indian version of it with sweet and savory sauce. For vegetarians, I don’t think anything beats a masala dosa. The outside is a thin crepe made from a bean flour. It’s rolled like a gigantic burrito, but it’s much lighter than a burrito. Inside is a light potato and onion curry mash. That’s always served with a rich vegetable soup called sambar.”
Right now, the restaurant owners are planning to open a second restaurant, also to be called Indian Street Cafe.
“We’re building a second restaurant in San Jose that will open at the beginning of next year. It will be near the airport on Skyport Drive,” Kaplan said. “As we plan to expand our restaurant chain, we plan to have each restaurant fit a theme of a regional cuisine in India. For example, the second restaurant will have a Mumbai theme. We are importing things from India for the restaurant. The bus and auto rickshaws from our first restaurant were all imported from India.”
Indian Street Cafe is located at 927 E. Arques Ave #141 off Commercial St. in Sunnyvale.