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Oct 11, 2007 03:11 PM

Ganesh Temple, Sai Bhavan, or Dosa Hut?

I love Indian vegetarian food and dosas. So, which of the top 3 places would be best to try? Or are they all worthwhile?

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  1. Ganesh temple (right next to dosa hut) has much better dosas. The cooks are actually from udipi. Go downstairs to the canteen for the dosas.

    2 Replies
    1. re: liqdstar

      excellent tip, i wondered about that on a DOSA HUT visit, but had no idea so thx!

      1. re: mrnyc

        I'm starting to prefer the Canteen, myself. I have been in absolute love with their sambar since I first went (it's still amazingly flavorful), but got a limp dosa back then. Persistence pays off, though, and that may have been just a sign of inconsistency and not how things always are. Just let them know that you want it crispy. Better yet- go for the Rava Masala Dosa; it's the laciest, crispiest thing going, and the masala is served on the side. IMO it is the best thing served at either the Canteen or Dosa Hutt.

        Oddly enough- due to the above request I headed out to Sai Bhavan this afternoon to check it out. Unfortunately it is closed on Tuesdays :( I'll get there another day, though. It looks promising. I went to Dosa Hutt instead and got them at a good time for Vadas with a fresh out of the oil crispiness (I'm probably using that word too much, I know...), definitely not nuked. So all was not lost.

    2. I've never been to Sai Bhavan, but I've been to the other two. The temple canteen is definitely better than Dosa Hutt, but that's not to say that Dosa Hutt is bad! Check out the canteen on weekends when they have specials - you'll be in South Indian food heaven!

      1. Just a follow-up on my post above regarding Sai Bhavan. I made it over there for lunch today and really liked it. It is hard to tell from a first visit which of the three is the better place, but there really is a lot to like about Sai Bhavan. Unfortunately their expanded menu is not available during the week, so we went with the dosas. The sambar may not have made the same initial impression on me that the Canteen did, but it is quite good in its own way. It leans more towards the tamarind rather than the mustardy spiciness, which tends to be a better foil for these amazing sweet and tender whole pearl onions. Potatoes are in large chunks, with the skin on, so you get some character from that as well. An added bonus is that the dosas are accompanied by two kinds of chutney. The coconut is nice but sort of mild, but there is also some peanut and/or sesame chutney with chiles that flat out rocks. And the dosas themselves are made from what seems to be a looser batter than the other places that results in a thinner and crispier texture. I'll get the rava dosa next time, because I've been on a rava dosa kick lately and it seems like the kind of thing this place would excel at.

        7 Replies
        1. re: TongoRad

          Wow, thanks everybody. Sounds like I have to try them all!

          TongoRed, did Sai Bhavan have foods other than dosas? And what else does the Canteen offer on weekends apart from dosas?

          Lastly, which one is the rava dosa? Does it have a filling?

          1. re: gtrekker2003

            Sadly I am not in the neighborhood on weekends, but it looks like you can get expanded vegetarian menus, and probably even thalis, on those days.

            A rava dosa is made with a proportion of wheat flour, in addition to the lentil flour, added to the batter. This provides more glutens which in turn will allow the dosa to get thinner, yet stretchier, and become more lacy and crispy at the edges. As missmasala pointed out below, personal preference, as well as general mood, can play into whether you want a dosa to be that way or more spongy like the regular type. As with other types of dosas you can get them filled or just plain.

          2. re: TongoRad

            I must be in the minority, but i don't like my dosas too thin and crispy. for me, the ideal dosa should be thin and crispy at the edges and thicker and less crispy in the middle, so you can taste the sourdough flavor of the pancake itself. Partly, less crispy tastes more like homemade, and in my mind i compare all dosas to the ones our cook made us for breakfast in Chennai (formerly Madras) when I lived there as a kid.

            For the same reason, i can't imagine wanting any other chutney than coconut with my dosa. Different tastes for different folks.

            however, having been to all three, could you comment on which had the best coconut chutney? (for me, it's all about the coconut chutney) specifically, I'm looking for a place that uses fresh, not dried, coconut and has a strong presence of curry leaves and some nuttiness from the fried urad dal. So far, I haven't been able to find a coconut chutney here that tastes like what you get in south india. or the south india of my memory, anyway. I haven't been too impressed with Dosa Hut's coconut chutney. (their idlis are good, tho) Does the canteen or sai bhavan have better chutney?

            1. re: missmasala

              I think you'd really prefer the coconut chutney at the Canteen, and they give you a lot of it to boot. I am assuming it is made from fresh coconut mostly due to the flavor profile and texture, which have a fresh quality. There are definitely curry leaves in there (the overall color is greenish) as well as urad dal but to me they don't contribute as much to the overall flavor as the mustard seeds do, which are also nutty in their own way. It's quite good and I'd put it as the best of these three places.

              1. re: TongoRad

                thanks so much. I'm going to check out the canteen. This thread has given me a total craving for some dosa and idli.

                Is the canteen open all week, or only on weekends?

                  1. re: Joe MacBu

                    Okay, finally got to the canteen this weekend. Here are my thoughts:

                    nice space, friendly staff, some delicious dishes. I would go back.

                    sambar: thinner and more watery than i like it, and with an alarming array of veggies. But the flavor was good.
                    chutney: stale and starchy tasting. I think it was made out of dried coconut. Just barely okay. def not great.
                    idlis: awful--mealy, dense texture and no discernable sourdough (fermented) flavor. Dosa Hutt does better idli.
                    dosas: not much sourdough flavor, but texture-wise, okay. I always order the sadha, it's my benchmark.
                    great dollar bags of chucklies at the counter. my kids love to take 'em to lunch. Could be fried a little darker, but hey, it beats making your own!

                    also, my SO and kids think i was too hard on the place. they all liked it a lot. I just think my expectations were too high.

                    For comparison, did a takeout of idli from Sai Bhavan and tried it. The husband and wife running the place were very friendly and the the idli were better than at the canteen. So was the chutney, but only marginally (it had a lot of ginger in it) and the sambar, while thicker, didn't have as nice a flavor.

                    the best coconut chutney i have had has been at the dosa house in jersey city and, strangely enough, at the rajbhog in JH.

                    I was wondering if anyone could comment on the coconut chutney at Kerala Kitchen. Is it made from fresh coconut? I am on a search for delicious coconut chutney made from fresh coconut (not the finely ground dried coconut you can buy at Patel Bros.) I realize this may be too expensive and labor intensive for most places, but i'm still searching.

                    any suggestions?