In Silicon Valley, everything moves fast. The Internet is fast, the sports cars are fast and the people are faster yet. While we would all like to slow down and smell the roses, this is not always an option with the rigors of work, school and other commitments.
While I believe in the idea of eating slowly and savoring mealtime, the American office place and work schedule are not organized in a way conducive to three-hour lunches. Equipped with the knowledge that people in the valley are on a tight schedule and exhibiting typical Silicon Valley entrepreneurial instincts, a few smart folks have opened up new eateries catering to people who do not want to choose between eating well and eating fast.
In the Town & Country shopping center, two such places just opened. If one can find parking (and not get too frustrated by the swarming high schoolers), both are worth trying.
The first place is called Tava Indian Kitchen, located in the back corner of the shopping center behind Trader Joe’s. (Note: Do not make the same mistake I made, expecting a restaurant experience: Do not invite your friends to go out to eat dinner at Tava—there are not tables; you will end up eating in your car…which will then smell like curry…for a few days…). Despite the current lack of tables, Tava has some tasty and quick food, perfect for on-the-go lunches or dinners. Tava’s concept is kind of like Chipotle, but for Indian food: you first pick your base: rice bowl, salad bowl or Burroti (burrito-like wrap made of Roti bread); then pick your sauce: tomato tikka sauce or lentil dahl; then pick your protein: chicken, lamb or paneer cheese and chick peas; and finally, you pick varying levels of spice or flavor with sauces and toppings.
Overall, Tava is a great concept: fast, fresh and creative. The paneer and garbanzo bean protein is a nice respite from the tofu “choice” vegetarians are usually forced to make. I especially like how the Tikka sauce does not already have meat mixed in, therefore making it an option for non-carnivores. The portions are plentiful and the Tava Lava hot sauce is sufficiently fiery. Although that particular sauce was quite hot, the dishes could use a bit more general spice.
The other new spot in Town & Country is called Asian Box. This time, I knew to expect a take-out café, so I did not have to eat in my car. I did, however, drive with my Asian box in my car and therefore, for a second time in one week, found myself driving around in what smelled like an Asian fusion restaurant. But I digress.
Similar to Tava and Chipotle, Asian Box is a build-your-own place. You first pick the base from different types of rice, vegetables and noodles, then pick among chicken, beef, tofu and shrimp and then add on. The add-ons are where it starts getting fun—you can choose vegetables and then pick any or all of the box toppers (most of which are free). Box-toppers include chopped peanuts, pickled vegetables, fresh herbs and crispy shallots. Then, of course, it’s sauce time. The food at Asian Box tasted incredibly fresh and each bite in the box provides a new and exciting flavor. While my taste buds were curious as to what to expect with each bite, they felt a bit overwhelmed by all of the competing tastes.
Both Tava and Asian Box create fast and flavorful fusion food, and both are perfect for days when a salad or sandwich seems a bit boring. They don’t compromise on quality or taste. My only other recommendation: no matter how much of a rush you are in, don’t forget to open your car windows.