Six months is usually considered the earliest a new restaurant, bar or coffeeshop canreceive a fair review. By then the kinks should be ironed out, the bad apples fired and the dishes and drinks refined. But who’s got time for that? This feature takes a look at new restaurants around the valley each month.

The Hangouts
12100 Saratoga-Sunnyvale Rd, Saratoga | 408.320.1255

The Hangouts features ubiquitous Indian dishes, as well as lesser-known Nepalese cuisine. Their menu has a wide array of options, from Indian tandoori kabobs to Nepalese thali sets. They also have some fusion dishes—such as a spicy Szechuan chow mein and a fried chicken and gravy. Their momos were pretty legit and are highlighted by a tasty achaar dipping sauce. The Nepali curried goat was unctuous, savory and made me sweat. Their tasty mango lassi is a must under these conditions.

Vegan Donut and Café
449 E Santa Clara St, San Jose

As 2019 quickly draws nigh, it’s time to start thinking about those New Year’s resolutions, and eating healthier is definitely a yearly favorite. I always believe in baby steps, so Vegan Donut and Café is the perfect way to try and eat “healthier” in the New Year. Sure their donuts are so good you can barely tell the difference, but hopefully subtracting eggs from the equation will yield results. Their rotating seasonal flavors will also help diners eat what’s in season. Plus, their green tea donuts, cinnamon rolls and cinnamon twists will keep patrons dosed with antioxidants. What better way to get one’s daily serving of fruit than by happily scarfing an apple fritter?

Jackie’s Place
655 N 6th St, San Jose
If there’s one genre of nosh that the South Bay lacks, it’s soul food. Thankfully, there’s Jackie’s Place—located in Japantown in the same storefront that once housed the soul food and Caribbean joint, Carisoul. Jackie’s has all the soul food essentials: collard greens, fried catfish and my personal favorite, fried chicken and waffles. They even feature slow-smoked southern BBQ and Caribbean inspired oxtail dishes. They’re only open Thursday through Sunday for now, so make sure to time it right.

Rule the Roost
1600 Saratoga Ave Ste 20, San Jose

It’s not very often that food court food makes this list, but I think Westgate mall’s Rule the Roost might be onto something. While the business model may look similar to that of a popular chain (that shall go unnamed) with their crispy chicken sandwiches and waffle-cut fries, they do set themselves apart with one word: spice. Rule the Roost has the much-vaunted Nashville hot chicken that us chili heads crave. The sandwich comes in five heat levels, from mild to the “triple dog dare.” Better grab a large-size serving of their hand-squeezed strawberry lemonade just in case.

Ding’s Kitchen
876 Old San Francisco Rd, Sunnyvale | 408.736.8973
This place just opened and it’s already got my attention for its super-authentic Szechuan menu, which features smoked Hunan pork, a nice variety of steamed dumplings and even a spicy pig ear app. Their entire menu is “100 percent handmade,” and they offer-up a rotating selection of dinner and lunch specials. Ding’s has all the earmarks of a fantastic hole-in-the-wall eatery that could become a family favorite for years to come. More research needs to be done, and a visit or three are in order.
Health Food They may be fried—but hey!—at least they’re vegan.