Udupi is now Nala Pak (MSP)
Wow, the Indian folks I know swear by the place, although they eat at the Telugu place, Surabhi, in Bloomington as well, where I've recently had some excellent idli and a top rate butter chicken. Unfortunately, I had an utterly foul and immediately bad reaction to Udupi which put me off going there for years. Only the kitchen gods know for sure but seems to me that the culprit was old oil.
I finally made it up to Columbia Heights to try the new Udupi last night. It was VERY disappointing. While much of the menu is the same, featuring southern Indian specialties, the food is nowhere near as good as the old Udupi. I was not sure what to expect when I walked in -- on the plus side the parking lot was packed, on the minus side it did not have the delicious smell of spices I am used to when walking into a good Indian restaurant. We tried three dishes. The best of the three was the masala dosai, a lentil pancake stuffed with onion and potatoes. I would rate that one average. The palak paneer, the dish we use to judge all Indian restaurants, was one of the worst that I have had anywhere. It was far too creamy and sweet. While it was spicy, it lacked the complex flavoring of the blending of spices that makes Indian food one of my favorite cuisines. The paneer itself was rubbery and flavorless. The third dish, the avial, was not much better. It is a vegetable curry with coconut, which is a dish I do not normally get at Indian restaurants, but it was one of my favorites at Udupi. Like the palak paneer it had the triumverate of sweet, creamy, and spicy, but lacked flavor.
This is a real shame. Udupi was not only the best Indian restaurant in the Twin Cities, but also one of the best chowhound locations in the area.