Last weekend I enjoyed trying out the lunch buffets at the bookended Asian vegetarian restaurants in my neighborhood, Suma Veggie Cafe, and the Veggie Garden. I’m compiling a list of family-owned restaurants near my home and the countries and cultures their cuisines represent – it’s a daunting task. I wanted to keep this going this weekend.
A friend suggested, “You might also try the vegetarian Indian restaurant a couple doors down from Party City at 75 and Beltline.” She was referring to the Udipi Cafe, one of several Indian restaurants in the newly remodeled Richardson Heights Shopping Center. Today, at lunch, I decided to give it a try.
Like so many small family-owned spots, it is small and unassuming, but clean and cheerful. The place was full, mostly with families, with a few couples and a couple big tables of young people.
I know very little… nothing really about Indian Food in general. The Udipi Cafe is advertised as “Note that Udipi offers SOUTH Indian cuisine which is different from the commonly found North Indian cuisine.” – which means I know less than nothing. It’s vegetarian South Indian cuisine, which adds another layer of mystery for me.
The buffet was labeled, which didn’t help at all – except I love the look of the words – Poori, Aloo Paratha, Udipi Iddly, Moong Dosai, Uthappam, Aloo Gobi… How can anything with names this cool not be delicious?
At the buffet, I was confused. There were regular plates in a pile, but most folks were eating from these big shiny metal cafeteria style plates with raised areas for different foods. Also, there were all these little metal cups. What do I put in the cup? What is permissible to mix together? What do I keep separate in the areas of the plate? What is OK to soak up with the bread?
I made the mistake of sitting with my back to the buffet. It was nice to watch the big family groups and the young people (I wondered if any of them new Nick or Lee), but in a new place like this, it’s usually a good idea to watch the experts getting their food – learn how it’s done.
All good, though. I just piled it all up and it was all delicious. The Indian spices were more complex than some I’ve had and I really liked it. I especially enjoyed the curried chick peas – Chana Masala (I think), the Jackfruit Curry (I looked at the generous chunk of Jackfruit on my fork, thought about whether caution should be in order, and decided to simply plunge on in), and some sort of a a spicy pineapple something.
They brought a plate of Dosa to my table. These are crepes – mine were probably Masala Dosa – filled with potatoes and onions. Really good but really filling.
It was fun, it was good… I want to go back, but my list of places to go is growing faster than I can cross them off.