Madras Dosa Hut

1123 Albion Road
1-877-DOSAHUT(367-2488)

 

The Library team (our department in the hospital is quite small, with only 5 of us and one volunteer) went for a yummy lunch buffet to Madras Dosa Hut at Albion and Islington for a great deal- a $7.99 South Indian lunch buffet feast

With ample parking, we entered the clean and spacious Madras Dosa Hut, whivh is kid-friendly (it has a McDonalds-like park in the front for kids) and we sat at the large 8 seater circular table.

I had eaten South Indian food before but one volunteer had never eaten Indian food in general. We introduced her to the many delights of Indian cuisine like sambar (spicy lentil soup), rasam (spicy tomato-based soup with tamarind), payasam (sweet tapioca dessert), uthapam (similar to Naan bread but it contains rice flour with onions).

The great part of this buffet is that it includes one free Dosa (a thin crepe with a yummy potato curry filling inside). There were many vegetarian items for me to choose from. I chose the channa masala (chick pea curry), as well as veggie curry with peas and potatoes, while my colleagues chose other curries like goat and chicken.
Madras Dosa Hut was large, spacious, clean, and bright with traditional kitschy South Indian flare. Food was good, constantly refreshed, and water was cold and wait staff were friendly, cheerful, and helpful.

I was impressed with the free Dosa offer. Clearly, this was the best value for a lunch buffet and I was happy to report that Madras Dosa Hut offered no free cockroaches. Accepts all cards. Licensed.

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Dosa Darbar

1150 ALBION RD,
Phone: 416-740-9009

 

Dosa Darbar is a south indian vegetarian restaurant in Etobicoke’s Little India at Albion and Islington. Conveniently located right near the 401 and Islington, this small cosy restaurant sits about 10 tables and is quite dark and unassuming inside.

Decor is dark with brown textured wallpaper and old tables and chairs. Dosa Darbar does not look dumpy like most restaurants on Gerrard street but definitely looked a bit shabby and dated. Definitely needs a severe makeover. With mininal decor and design it does less busy, thus not as kitschy as other places.

The food and excellent friendly service makes up for the ambiance. Dosa Darbar specializes in Dosa’s which are thin paper like crepes with a potato curry filling inside. For lunch, Aaron and I ordered the crazy Dosa, filled with potato curry. Our Dosa was lined with cheddar cheese and shredded onion and it came with Sambar (thick vegetarian pea soup–similar to Daal) and a coriander and coconut cream sauce to dip the pieces of Dosa into

The Dosa was huge. It was fresh, piping hot, and delicious. In addition to our meal, we also shared an appetizer of Veggie pekoras with chunks of onion and cashew which was a new food experience for us. They did not have Tamarind sauce but it came with ketchup (not very Indian) and a yummy Coriander sauce that was to die for.
For our drinks I ordered an extra large glass of Mango Lassi, thick and rich and only $2.95 for the massive glass. I did NOT feel ripped off. I was truly happy with the food, extra friendly service, and the quality of the food

Accepts all cards

Rashnaa

307 Wellesley Street East.
416-929-2099

Rashnaa is an intimate little South Indian and Sri Lankan restaurant right on Wellesley near Parliament. Very unassuming and modest in design, with non-kitschy decor, very cosy, and romantic. It is a great place to bring a first date who loves South Indian cuisine.

Rashnaa is formally a small workman’s Victorian house on two levels. The first floor contains about 10 small tables with an upper level with one table and bathrooms. The upper floor contains one table that sits 4 and bathrooms. There is a large backyard terrace that is beautiful.

Opened for 15 years, Rashnaa’s reputation as one of the finest South Indian and Sri Lankan restaurants has been established through word of mouth. With high quality, vegetarian friendly, affordable and fresh cuisine I can tell you I had a very satisfying experience

When Daniel and I went there for dinner, he had the butter chicken with vegetables and a potato curry. I ordered the vegetable delight, a medley of potato, eggplant, and breadfruit curry (in a coconut curry sauce), a green pea and cashew curry (YUM), a lentil curry, and a spinach curry, that comes with basmati rice (I omitted the rice and ordered roti instead). The waiter was impressed that I opted for vegetarian dishes that he brought out samples of other South Indian curries: a delicious roasted beet curry with coconut curry sauce (to die for!) and a curried eggplant that resembled traditional Jewish eggplant.

The food and service was fabulous and my dish was only $8.95. There are many options for vegetarians as well as a variety of wonderful breads (naan, and various vegetables rotis). Most curries are made with ghee or coconut milk (specific to South Indian dishes). Ghee is clarified butter, very rich and may be difficult on the stomach. Accepts credit card. Casual ambiance. Licensed.

Madras Durbar [closed Aug 2005- owner died]

1435 Gerrard Street East
416-465-4116

Located right in Little India/ India Bazaar, this small restaurant has been reviewed in Now and Eye so Aaron and I thought we should check it out. Although I love Indian food and especially restaurants that say Indian Pure Vegetarian Restaurant, I am usually disappointed with South Indian cuisine.

I am not giving up on it though. I just find most of the dishes too soupy and saucy and not substantial enough for my large appetite. At this South Indian establishment, I chose the Thali dish, since it’s the most popular and largest dish (for the most value). My main meal was served on a metal circular dish with a lentil souo (daal), a coriander soup, a milky rice pudding with nutmeg/ginger/cloves dessert (yummy and spicy), a potato curry dish, a spinach curry dish, an vegetable curry dish, and another spicy soup with vegetables and beans.

My Thali plate was only $6.30 and seemed quite substantial. Instead of Naan bread of Chapati or Roti, it came with rice, pappadum, and poori (Fried roti, quite gross and greasy). Our Mango Lassis were the most enjoyable, thick and creamy. I enjoyed my meal immensely. The thali plate resembles a “tapas” –with little mini dishes. It’s great because you get to try many things all in sitting and it’s not filling like a yucky North Indian buffet. Food was very fresh, spicy ,and flavourful. Wait time was not too long. Waiter provided lots of fresh water.

Menu is 3 pages in length, first page has a list of about 10 entrees, all range in price from $2.75 – $7.00 and second page has a list of “savourys” which are appetizers that are not sweet. They are all around $2.00-$4.00. Sweets are at the back of the menu and there are the typical ones (Barfi, Kulfi, Ice Cream, Rice pudding) all reasonably priced between $2.75-$5.00.

To conclude, I thought my dish was very tasty but not filling enough. I am used to dining at North Indian establishments. I can appreciate the healthy 100% vegetarian selections and the smaller portions are much healthier than overloading at a buffet. I think the this place is one of the best places in Little India (Sidartha and Udupi Palace are runners up- New Haandhi, Famous Indian Cuisine, and Regency are yucky. )

It is small and cosy, warm and inviting, and not tacky or sterile like other restaurants on Gerrard street. I was also happy to see the 100% vegetarian menu. Those dishes are more filling and substantial and I was a little disappointed that my Thali plate came with 7 or 8 small portions of these dishes, most of them soups or dips or sauces for the rice or poori. The food is very different as the names of the curries are different too, but both North and South Indian cuisine are spicy, flavourful, and tasty, but I prefer North Indian. Cash and Interac and credit card accepted. Bathrooms are fair. I do not understand why each and every bathroom in these restaurants (I’ve been to most) are smelly and disgusting. Excellent prices, a no bullshit vegetarian establishment.

Hopper Hut

880 Ellesmere Road
416-299-4311‎

 

The first time I went for a meal at Hopper Hut I was taken there by an East Indian employee who’s taste buds were well attuned to the fiery spices of southern Indian food. I am not one to shy away from spicy food but I recall being so overwhelmed by the heat that I had to ask for a side of yogourt just to neutralize the sensations.

My most recent visit to Hopper Hut didn’t diverge much from the first. I stuck to the conventional South Indian choice of vegetarian thali while my lunch partner decided to go with something called the vegetarian lamprie. I wish I was able to discern much less recall what the different vegetable curries were that made up the thali. There were three tomato based curries, each one spicier than the first. The three other vegetables were not as spicy but after a few bites of the other ones it didn’t matter since my mouth was already on fire. The thali also came with a large bed of rice half covered in a yogourty/onion sauce and the other with a milder, tasty “orangey brown” sauce… that is really the only way I could describe it at this point. If this sounds like a lot of food for $6.99 then you need not worry about the papadam and an extra potatoey dish that comes alongside the thali. Dessert, also included in the price of the thali, is a tapioca based custard, that thankfully was not spicy; though by that time I had already used evey napkin at the table plus some to sop up my running nose.

Next time I go for South Indian, I am going to have to try something other than the thali. The lampries that my friend ate was pretty much the same as my meal but with all the ingredients blended together in a banana leaf. This actually made it more difficult to eat as she couldn’t supplant the hot spicy taste with the cooler dishes. Quite an experience but not one that I could easily get used to on a regular basis.

Udupi Palace

1460 Gerrard Street East
416 – 405 – 8189,
416 – 405 – 8138,
416 – 405 – 8384

Located right in the heart in Gerrard’s India Bazaar (Little India), this place has locations in Queens, NY plus a bunch in southern California, this place serves South Indian vegetarian dishes. The decor is all white and sterile. It resembles a large hospital waiting room. Decor is minimalist and waiting staff are friendly and informative. This place only serves South Indian vegetarian items. The place is very noisy and most of the clientele are Indian.

This place lacks the ambiance but has high quality, affordable, vegetarian, healthy meals. The portions are huge and meals are highly spicy and very flavourful. Plates are metallic and not fancy. Presentation is colourful and attractive. I ordered a simple vegetable curry with potatoes, varied vegetables, and it came with pappadum and chapati-like bread (like roti) with a cool yogourt dip. My friend had a complete vegetable medley meal containing a spicy tomato Indian soup, three vegetable curry dishes with rice, green beans, peas, potatoes, and cauliflower. The dessert consisted of a rice noodle dessert with rice noodles, raisins, nuts, sugar ,cinnamon, and boiled milk. Both our meals were very saucy and soupy, unlike North Indian cuisine.

Both dishes came with chapati (whole wheat paper thin bread), rice, and yogourt with tomato chunks. Both dishes were highly flavourful and very spicy. Meals were under $10.00 and they accept Interac and VISA. The only drawback is that it is very noisy and since the restaurant is in the basement, it’s not that bright.