Udupi Cafe - Vegetarian

Udupi Cafe on Urbanspoon

above: Appetizer Combo

1/11/10 This is a repost because the food bloggers all gathered on Sunday for the buffet at Udupi. I didn't care to improve on this already good review, so I'm just reposting for those that might be new. Eileen mentions our gathering on her blog here.

Original post:
I like meat. It's rare for me to have a lunch or dinner without some sort of meat. Even when I have salad, I like it to have chicken, salmon, shrimp. Something. So I'm really not gonna jump at the chance to go to a vegetarian restaurant.

The reasons I went to Udupi? It's gotten rave reviews from everyone I know who has been there. Then my Meetup group has a lot of vegetarian members who have asked for more vegetarian friendly restaurants. So, I scheduled a dinner there.

Udupi is located on Sunrise Boulevard in Rancho Cordova in the same shopping center as 24 Hour Fitness. The decor is simple and sparse. There are a lot of tables and they easily fit our request for a table for ten. They were also doing a good business for a Monday night during a down economy.

I decided to split with someone else and so we ordered a couple of appetizers and then the Udupi Special combo. We probably could have cut out the appetizers all together, or, at least, ordered only one. The dishes were very generous and everyone ended up sharing with everyone else because there was so much! Our first appetizer was the Papri Chaat, flour chips with garbanzos and potatoes flavored with mint and tamarind chutney. We aren't too knowledgeable about Indian food and so were a little surprised that it was a cold appetizer. But it was yummy. I just skipped the garbanzos and ate the chips and potatoes. I loved the chutney sauce. The amount was enough to feed a crowd. We also ordered the veggie samosas which were quite large. Their version was filled with a mashed potato versus a chunky potato like some serve. (I prefer chunky.) But they were hot and delicious. At this point I'm already almost full!

There were three combo plates on the menu that definitely got our attention. If you want to try a lot of items, combos are a great way to go. Robert ordered the South Indian Thali and you see can see that it came with ten items as well as the rice and roti (bread) and choice of coffee or tea. We gave Robert kudos for finishing everything plus all the extra tastes he got from the rest of us.

I had opted for the Udupi Special. It gave you options. There was choice of soup, iddly or vada, dosai or uthappam, and then coffee or tea. I had chosen the Mulligathany Soup which was flavorful. But then something new for me came out. I had opted for the vada, fried lentil donuts. It was a mixed review for those. I liked them as far as texture and being really like a donut, only a savory one. Plus, it's healthy! Made from lentils. The flavor wasn't bad either, although a bit bland. That's why they are served with a chutney and a sambar for dunking. Dunkin' Donuts! If you are a dunkin fan, then you should have fun with these.

My next option was my selection of the dosa. Dosas are giant crepes with a filling inside. The menu had 13 choices of dosa and I selected the spinach one with onion, potatoes, tomato, spinach, and spicy chutney. By this time we were very full and only able to eat half of it between the two of us. The filling was a nice mash of the vegetables and the spicy chutney added an extra bit of zing. Woe is me, I forgot my leftovers! I wanted them for dinner the next night! We ended with a Madras coffee which was rich and creamy.

As I said, we all shared with each other and so this came by my plate as well. This is the Gobi Manchurian, batter fried cauliflower (gobi) stir fried with garlic, ginger, chili and soy sauce. It's a Chinese influenced dish, a bit of fusion cooking. It had the kick of the chili and reminded me of a spicy fried pork stir fry.

Eileen ordered the Channa Batura, a puffed bread with a side of masala (spice) and the Baigan Bartha, eggplant baked, mashed, and mixed with onion, tomato, and spices (below).

Everyone was happy and left feeling very full. The best compliment you can say about a vegetarian restaurant is when you can leave and say that you never missed or even thought about meat during the meal. Udupi met that goal with tasty and generous dishes.