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Help: Dasaprakash or Saravana Bhavan?

I have a South Indian friend visiting from a hick town in Arizona who wants a fix of South Indian food she doesn't have to cook for herself. Last time she was here three years ago, we went to Dasaprakash and she liked it, so she suggests going there again when next we go shopping in San Jose.

However, I haven't heard much about Dasaprakash in awhile, which makes me nervous. Especially, since a lot of the Indian coworkers have not heard of the place. One Indian coworker suggested Saravana instead, although he did say that his wife was offended by the rude service.

To give you some background info, she liked Udupi Palace as reasonably authentic, hated Dosa with a passion as being pseudo Indian, and described Vik's as "Northerners making a valiant attempt at South Indian food, not entirely successful."

Since we may have time for only one South Indian meal, I want it to be good. Does anyone here have an opinion?

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  1. I haven't been to either one in a few years, but my (outdated) experience was that Saravana Bhavan was much better than Dasaprakash (although Dasaprakash did have an excellent upma).

    The other place you should consider is Komala Vilas for lunch - according to a South Indian friend of mine, it's by far the most authentic, with waiters walking around and ladling food onto your plate. Dinner is less interesting, but still good - standard dosas, uttapam, etc
    My report:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/535705

    1. sfbing, we've had good meals at Dosa House in Santa Clara (on El Camino Real) on a couple of recent visits--they have both Andhra and Madras thalis and extensive variations of dosas. Plenty of the other usual dishes in a vegetarian S.Indian eatery, the iddlys, uttapam, et cetera.

      1. I recommend Saravana Bhavan or Madras Cafe for dosas & Annapoorna in San Mateo for a buffet lunch (excl. Sundays) which includes my favorite items, vadas* & one dosa. I recently had a thali at Saravana Bhavan consisting of 2 chapatis, rice, one papad, two vegetables, 2 rasams, sambar, yogurt & dessert for $12.95 but for $10 or $11 at Annapoorna, one gets much better value & food.** If I could only have one meal, I'd choose Annapoorna.

        As for Komala Vilas, I was extremely disappointed with their dosa (not fermented/sour enough, too greasy) and vada (not crisp). Have not been to lunch so can't comment on rice, rasam, veg., etc.

        *Prefer Annapoorna's vadas to Saravana Bhavan or Madras Cafe (at least last time I was there).
        **don't expect to be blown away, mom's food will probably be better.

        http://www.annapoornavegetarian.com/

        1. SB has the best dosas (and the chutneys that accompany them), IMO. I liked the variety of dosas at Dosa Place, but I found the chutneys unpleasantly weird.

          I enjoy the thalis at both SB and Dasaprakash.

          Dasaprakash's service is much, much better than SB's. It's often loud at SB, with either people screaming, or music blaring -- if you can filter that, that's good, but if you want something more peaceful, you should search elsewhere, I think.

          Dasaprakash's breads are far better than SB's, such as the poori or bhatura. Very tender and tasty. SB's often seem like cardboard. I like a good channa bhatura, and Dasaprakash's wins out, so far.

          1. I've been to all the restaurants on my ranked list below more than once except for Saravana Bhavan and Annapurna. As a result I don't feel as qualified to compare Saravana and Dasaprakash, other than to say "Go to Tirumpathi Bhimas."

            Here are my South Indian rankings:
            Kathleen’s South Indian Rankings:

            1) Tirupathi Bhimas, Milpitas
            2) Annapoorna, San Mateo
            3) Udupi Palace, Sunnyvale (but definitely skip the buffet)
            4) Saravana Bhavan, Sunnyvale
            5) Dasaprakash, Santa Clara
            6) Dosa Place, Santa Clara
            7) Swathi Tiffins, Santa Clara
            8) Annapurna, Sunnyvale

            Here are my reviews in more detail of each restaurant:

            A Dose of Dosa and an Utt of Uttapam
            http://www.yelp.com/list/a-dose-of-do...

            1. Thanks for the suggestions! Especially for all the restaurants I haven't heard of. Clearly, what I need to do is try all of them in a head to head contest. More rationally, I think I'll just print this out and leave it up to her.

              As a related topic, is there a decent South Indian place in Berkeley? And what would a South Indian make of Breads of India? (I've always had a fondness for it from my UCB days and have been thinking of making a visit with her. But if she is going to hate it, then maybe not.)

              1 Reply
              1. re: sfbing

                I am not aware of anything besides Udupi & Vik's in Berkeley but I could be wrong. The best reviews I've seen for S.Indian north of Peninsula have been for Om in San Rafael.

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/484136

              2. KOMALA VILAS! go for breakfast or lunch (thali). its real homestyle tamil brahmin food. This is the type of food my grandma makes. Its very authentic, but dont go for dinner...the cooks are different and it sucks

                -----
                Komala Vilas
                1020 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                1 Reply
                1. re: kirinraj

                  Where are you located? There are so many good South Indian places in the area that your choice may as well be based on geography as anything else.

                  Saravana Bhavan would be a great choice. But my absolutely favorite dosas in the area are at Madras Cafe. Mirchi Indian Cafe is also good for most non-fried food, including a nice pessarathu. It also has non-vegetarian choices, which I like but your friend may not. All of these places are stronger on food than on service or decor.

                  And these are just the places in my neighborhood!

                  Michael

                  -----
                  Saravana Bhavan USA
                  1305 S Mary Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                  Madras Cafe
                  1177 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                  Mirchi Indian Cafe
                  867 E El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

                2. I had a late lunch at Dasaprakash once, and it struck me as the kind of nicer restaurant that seems "safe" for non-Indians, but the food I had was mediocre (I actually don't remember what, other than an interesting sounding apple fritter thing that turned out to be unbearably greasy). Some people like Madras, but I found their food on the bland side; had masala dosa there.

                  Saravana Bhavan is a local outpost of a well-known and quite good Indian chain. I've eaten at the one in Chennai, and have only been to the one in Sunnyvale once. It wasn't quite as good as Chennai, but I think fairly good... I've been wanting to go back and check out more.

                  I really like Komala Vilas, I've been there now for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can get a breakfast combo with upma or pongal plus a vada and an idli (can't remember if there's something else?) Unlike ceekskat's experience, my vada was fried to a crisp, yet nice and light. Idli was light and spongy. At lunch, it's an all you can eat affair where they'll serve you at table (this place is not fancy though). There's a nice variety, though not as many veggies as I would like (have encountered this problem often in S. India). They do, however, offer ghee to put on your rice, which is NOT something I've ever been offered! It's a nice touch. Many of the staff are Latino, resulting in interesting comments such as, "More curry, mami?"

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Cicely

                    Thanks to everyone--even if my friend decides on somewhere else, I'm definitely going to try Komala Vilas sometime!

                    1. re: Cicely

                      I totally agree with you, Cicely, on Dasaprakash. An excerpt rom my Yelp review: "Whenever I go here I think, "They've created a South Indian restaurant for whitey." It's decorated in a really sophisticated way, the menus actually describe all the dishes, and the prices reflect that. And I think it's impressive that their clientele still appears to be 90% Indian.

                      That said, the food is just okay."

                      http://www.yelp.com/biz/dasaprakash-s...

                      I want to try Komala Vilas. Is it a place with a full South Indian menu or is there only a thali for the day that's a set menu? (I've had some bad luck with thali of the day places.)

                      1. re: Cicely

                        Haha its kind of funny with the Latino staff, because they know a lot about tamil food and some even speak some. Ghee is traditional to put on rice to add a "nice" flavor.