Buzzy Peninsula food hall debuts Cal-Indian restaurant from noted S.F. chef

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The counter spot is serving California-Indian fare inside the splashy food hall at 170 State St. For this project, Gopinathan teamed up with Ayesha Thapar, owner of noted Palo Alto Indian restaurant Ettan, where he is also the chef. Gopinathan has also long led the kitchen at the two-Michelin-star Campton Place in San Francisco.

At Little Blue Door, customers use a QR code to order chicken biryani, smoked black lentils and south Indian egg puffs Gopinathan grew up eating in Kerala. The restaurant is geared equally toward takeout and in-person dining, with open seating inside and outside the food hall.

The menu exemplifies Gopinathan’s culinary style of Bay Area spins on Indian classics. Vada pav, a crispy potato patty served on a squishy bun, is made with the springtime addition of fava beans. Egg puffs, a favorite childhood snack of Gopinathan’s, feature puff pastry filled with sauteed egg, onions and spices. He recommends ordering it with a cup of hot masala chai. Or try Little Blue Door’s mango lassi made with Straus Family Creamery yogurt.

Whole chickens marinated in kasundi, a green mango and mustard relish, cook in the rotisserie oven at Little Blue Door in Los Altos.

Provided by Gourmand Group

Gopinathan also re-created memories of chicken fried in enormous cast iron pans at bus and train stations throughout Kerala. Here, the chicken draws flavor from a byadgi chile paste (a chile mainly grown in the Indian state of Karnataka) and is fried in a gluten-free batter. It comes with a hara aioli, a creamy, herby sauce with cilantro and ginger, and a crispy rice snack called fryums that’s flavored with roasted chile powder.

Whole chickens marinated in kasundi, a pickled mustard and green mango relish, roast on a rotisserie spit. For dessert, creamy ras malai, the popular cheese curd dish, is served in a plastic cup with a cardamom-flavored chantilly cream and sesame crumble.

The fast-casual restaurant is a test case for the owners, who until now have focused on higher-end dining. Gopinathan said they plan to open standalone outposts of Little Blue Door on the Peninsula and in the South Bay.

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