I’ve been hearing some great things about Southern Spice’s thali lunches, but it is unfortunate it is not offered at dinner. My friend and I decide to partake in its Happy Hour, entitled Spicy Hour, which offers some smaller portions of six different items, which gives you a little idea of what the restaurant is all about.
I’d expect these cards to be placed at every table, but surprisingly, the Spicy Hour is not widely advertised. In fact, the only reason I know about it is because I had questions about the menu, and saw a small postcard displayed by the cashier’s — the only one in the entire restaurant, so it seems.
The Spicy Hour menu offers three vegetarian, and three non-vegetarian items at $5 a pop. My friend and I decide to order all of them to get a sampling of what the restaurant is about.
The menu here is not friendly to maneuver. It is confusing and doesn’t describe well enough for me to fully comprehend what each dish is all about. This is why having the happy hour items in smaller portions is a great way to try without committing to an entree-size portion.
Mixed Pakora fried fritters made of chickpea battered mixed vegetables would have been excellent had they been freshly fried. Instead, we received lukewarm pakoras — which were still tasty — which came from the warming case by the cashier station. The accompanying mint sauce is delicious. I didn’t care much for the tamarind sauce.
I am surprised that the Vegetable Cutlets patties are served with ketchup. Made of vegetables mashed with spices, these are quite tasty, and possibly a great option for children. The exterior is crispy, while the interior, brimming with bits of veggies.
One of our favorite veggie option is Gobi Kempu Bezule. These fried cauliflower florets are fried, and tossed in yogurt, green chile and aromatic curry leaves. I did find it slightly unfortunate that all of the vegetarian options were fried, though.
Apollo Fish is an interesting dish. Crispy batter fried fish is tossed in a spicy sauce, and we learn, is a popular bar food in Hyderabad. The fish is mild, and will appeal to everyone.
Chicken Sukka is a dry chicken dish — I don’t mean it is dry, but that it isn’t sitting in sauce — seasoned with shallots and cashews. It is very tasty, and had we not sampled the next dish, would have been our favorite.
Chettinad Chicken Pepper Fry is hands down the star of the entire meal. Tipped to be country chicken cooked in Chettinad style, these chicken pieces are tender and packed with so much flavor. I think next time, I would prefer to eat this with rice instead of bread.
I’m a huge fan of dosa, and can’t resist but order Onion Dosa ($9.99). The dosa is okay — I’ve had better — and for the price, I would skip it on the next visit. The dosa comes with three dipping sauces, one of which is sambar — which is something I would order as a side.
The Garlic Naan ($3.99) is rather delicious and one I’d recommend ordering.
I can’t wait to come back again to try other dishes off the menu. I wish they’d rotate their dishes on their Spicy Hour menu so we can experience all the dishes without committing to a full entree portion.
3850 Barranca Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92606