(Photos found at Check, Please! Bay Area)
There’s a television at Ted’s office, and on Friday he decided to watch a little TV to unwind during his lunch break. Happily, Check, Please! Bay Area was on, and one of the restaurants reviewed was a Southern Indian place in Berkeley called Udupi Palace. The large majority of Indian restaurants in the Bay Area are Northern Indian, influenced by Punjabi and Pakastani flavors. We love that, but the idea of trying something from another part of India entirely appealed to Ted. He came home thinking we might go that night, but I didn’t feel like getting in the car and going to Berkeley, and Maya had already eaten. So we had pizza on Friday, and went to Berkeley on Saturday instead.
Udupi Palace is part of a small chain, with three locations in the Bay Area, and one each in Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, and Gaithersburg, MD. You sure wouldn’t know it was a chain by looking in. The Berkeley location has just about zero atmosphere, with Formica tables and stark white walls. But it’s clean and boasts large windows looking out onto University, and the food more than makes up for it.
Looking at the restaurants website, not all of the restaurants are vegetarian, but the one in Berkeley is. Ted and I ordered dishes that had been ordered on the Check, Please! Bay Area episode, while Maya branched out a bit. Ted started with a spicy tamarind and tomato soup, called Rasam. It was unlike anything we’d had before, and was light and delicious. Ted commented that it was the perfect soup to have if you had a cold or flu, because it would make you sweat a bit. I’ll bet it would open your sinuses as well. Really yummy.
I had the Chefs Thali Platter, which varies depending on what is in season. You really don’t know what vegetables you’re going to get from one visit to the next, I don’t think. It was a wonderful way to try several different dishes at one time. Mine included an eggplant dish, the same Rasam soup, perhaps two different kinds of Daal, two yogurt based dishes, a cabbage dish that was flavored by coconut, rice, papadam, Chana Batura, and a very sweet orange vegetable of some kind. It might have been sweet potatoes or pumpkin, and it might have been carrots, but it was bright and tasted mostly of sweetened coconut.
Ted had a Dosa, which is a thin crepe filled with various vegetables, and I believe the specialty of the restaurant. It came with two different sauces, and was quite good. The crepe was crispy and light, and the vegetable filling was flavorful and cooked just right. Not overcooked, not undercooked.
(Uthappam, photo found at the Daily Feed blog.)
Maya decided to try an Uthppam, which was a large rice and lentil pancake, with a wonderful spiced potato topping. It was just the right amount of crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside. Really, it looked more like a potato pancake, and I joked that I’d like to have those for Hanukkah this year instead of more traditional latkes, but Maya didn’t like that idea. She’s a traditionalist, I suppose. It was delicious, and she ate every bite, with a little help from her potato-loving mother.
The service was fine, though they tended to bring out dishes as they were ready, so I was enjoying my dinner for a few minutes before Ted and Maya got theirs. But the staff was friendly and attentive, and brought us plenty of water.
The price for all of this yumminess? About $30, including tax and tip. For a wonderfully delicious dinner of new flavors and dishes we hadn’t tried before. We’ll definitely go back.