Udupi Palace

(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.

9 thoughts on “Udupi Palace

  1. Don’t faint. I’ve never had Indian food. It’s on my list but I can’t find anyone to take me/go with…and there is nothing in my area. I’m all for venturing to the city but not alone for a meal of unknowns, y’know?

    Maybe I should put out a call on FB for a fabulous Indian restaurant in Chicago…perhaps that would entice some of my local friends and “friends.” Probably not, but I do have a decent imagination.

  2. I’m glad we were able to go, but a warning to Bay Area readers: the Berkeley location only takes cash — and oddly enough, checks.

  3. Hi, Julie!

    Sounds like a really nice evening out! Udipi is the name of an area in Mangalore, India, not far from where hubby’s family used to live so I am very familiar with this cuisine. Ted’s right, the rasam is a great soup for when you a stuff nose or blocked sinuses…it’s one of our favorite cold remedies!

  4. We love Indian food – we’re lucky enough to live near Tooting in South London so the standard is pretty high. Vegetarian Southern Indian food is always delicious – though I also love Sri Lanka food which features a lot of fish.

  5. That sounds great! If I’m over there, I’ll try it. I made dal this past weekend, a variation where you add cooked chopped tomatoes near the end. Dunno if that’s traditional or not. I have millions of Indian co-workers (the six people who sit to my right at work are from India, plus probably 60 others on this floor) but I am not going to do show and tell with my dal because I know they’d say “THAT’S not dal!” 🙂

  6. Looks and sounds great, especially at that price. Indian food has long been enormously popular in the UK. Do a lot of people eat it in the US, or is it still considered exotic and adventurous?

    • Simon, I think Indian food is fairly popular in more urban areas, but I also suspect many people think of it as ‘too ethnic’. Also, a lot of people think Indian food has to be hot hot hot. As though spice always = heat. I know that my mom used to make curry for Christmas dinner, and it was so hot your eyes would water, nose would run, ears would burn, and faces would be bright red. She served it with a lot of condiments on the side, like raisins, bananas, nuts, rice, etc. The kids would just eat the condiments. When I grew up, I told her I didn’t want to eat food that hurt anymore, and we started having cracked crab instead. 🙂 I think the first time I had curry that didn’t hurt was a revelation, and a wonderful one at that. I love Indian food. My husband, my mother-in-law, and Ted’s aunt (who isn’t even Indian) all make wonderful curries. Mmmm.

  7. I’m with you on trying a good sampling, like the chef’s thali platter, the first time I go to a place, to see what all they have. It sounds delicious! I wish Mrs. O liked Indian food more …

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