Madras Dosa House

by KimHo on June 14, 2010 · 8 comments under: British Columbia,Food,Restaurant

Madras Dosa House
5656 Fraser St
Vancouver, BC
Madras Dosa House on Urbanspoon

Ever since I went to House of Dosas, I have been wanting to try other similar shops. It is a case similar to that of Chinese cuisine – while we have Cantonese as the predominant one, we know there are other dishes outside from Guangdong. Take for example xiao long bao, a dish that has taken the inverse route, to the point that even Cantonese dim sum places offer it, while we know it is not originally from Guangdong (it is from Shanghai). In the case of dosas, it from the southern region of the Indian subcontinent, while a lot of Indian dishes some of you like (and, in some instances, love) – for example, tandoori chicken and a lot of curries – are from the northern region. And, of course, chicken tikka massala is British… One that I had in my target for some time was Madras Dosa House in Frasier Street for no other reason that it stood out in its own odd ways…

Madras Dosa House, Vancouver

Now, it is not that it stood out in a bad way; rather its location – in front of it is a cemetery. But, then again, John Oliver school is not that far away. Furthermore, down the street (north bound, that is), there isn’t much restaurant activity so, if you choose to go, there, chances are you might have stop before 41st Street (if you are driving north bound). Still, it is not the first time I have been to restaurants located in odd/weird places so I was up to the challenge.

Upon arriving, there were a couple of tables already waiting for their orders, including a table occupied by an Indian (?) family. From that perspective, that was good; however, what wasn’t that good was the dishes they ordered – rather, what they didn’t order, i.e. dosas. I lost track of what was served but the fact they didn’t order it was a bit disappointing. But, then again, should I have expected them to order dosas? Anyway, while looking at the menu, they had your usual curries, biryani and, of course, dosas. Based on all these items, I ended up ordering…

Madras Dosa House, Vancouver, Chicken 65

While listed as an appetizer, I asked this to be served along with the dosa. Here, their Chicken 65 – Tender boneless chicken marinated in special spices & deep fried. Here is the sort of curveball: I asked the waitress why a dish was called that way. I mean, they are not a pho shop, where you might order a bowl of pho #42, in reference to that item in the menu. Here, it was just listed as “Chicken 65″. Truth is, similar to the reaction you will get from me if you ask why xiao long bao is called small steaming basket bun (I have absolutely no idea), she just looked at me funny and said she didn’t know. In the end, I ordered it anyway.

Afterwards, looking for me details, including, of course, Wikipedia, mention this about the dish.

While the name “Chicken 65″ is universally used to refer to the dish, there are many different stories for how the name came about. It is generally acknowledged that no one knows which (if any) of these anecdotal theories are true:

OK, that does not explains much but what I can tell about this is that it was OK. While I give them points for using all dark meat, I didn’t taste anything unique out of it. Sure, it had a hint of spiciness, it didn’t blow me away in any form. The dipping sauce had an interesting fruity note – as if it was made out of berries. However, it didn’t change much of my thoughts that the dish was just OK. And that brings the “main”…

Madras Dosa House, Vancouver, dosa, spinach, potato

In my case, I went for the Spinach Masala Dosa – Thin rice & lentil crepe filled with spinach, potatoes, & onions. (I went vegetarian as my “appetizer” was mostly protein). Similar to what I got in House of Dosas, it came with two chutneys. However, their chutneys, while tasty in their own ways, was a bit more muted, not to mention watery. Now, the taste was there but, I guess, it is a preference thing.

Madras Dosa House, Vancouver, dosa, spinach, potato

One thing I notice right away, compared to the one from House of Dosas, is the thickness of the “pancake”. Here, the texture is doughier, which, possibly, resulted in it flattening down. Again, compared to House of Dosas, where it was crispier, which allowed it to construct an actual cylinder. Whether it is a good thing or bad, I can’t say; probably it might be an acquired taste. As for this dosa, while I could taste the potato and spinach, I can’t say there was as much spice as the one from House of Dosas. Still, I believe it has some qualities of its own. For one, it was quite hearty and the texture was quite balanced (except for the “crispy” part).

Pricewise, most of their dosas are under $10 so it is not that bad – but, then again, House of Dosas have $6 specials on Monday. So, overall, it has its own unique qualities (and, compared to House of Dosas, it is cleaner). If I was looking for dosas and given these two options, it might end up being a toss up; with House of Dosas having an edge due to the fact it is open 24 hours and the Monday specials. But, I won’t complain much if I ended up going here instead.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sherman June 14, 2010 at 1:04 pm

It’s really too bad that Southern Indian cuisine is so under-represented here. Not a huge selection of places that serve dosas. It’s similar to Cantonese food being over-represented. Not enough Hunan…

2 LotusRapper June 14, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Sherman :
Not enough Hunan…

Not enough Hunan ? I think it’s time you came over to the Dark Side (Chowhounds) and get in touch with Fmed if you haven’t already.

At least you been to Alvin Garden:

And many “Sichuan” places in town overlap Hunan techniques anyway.

Sorry to sidetrack the thread. This place (Madras Dosas) always got me curious as when I drive down that stretch of Fraser it’s like a desert of restauants between 41st and 28-ish. And this locale was just recently a Greek place and a Viet pho place, obviously a high turnover spot. I wouldn’t mind dropping by and trying them out sometime.

3 Sherman June 14, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Yah LR, I really should… So many foodies… so little time. Will make it a priority! Kim? Looks like Fmed time!

4 KimHo June 14, 2010 at 4:11 pm

LR, that is what I was referring to is location. Unless you go all the way, almost to King Edwards or Kingsway, there is almost nothing in term of restaurants. And, yes, I still remember the Vietnamese place. Their banh mi were quite decent.

Sherman, that “Fmed time” sounded strange… :P

In general, I have been lurking in Chowhound but I have chosen not to participate, partially because I am too busy maintaining this blog plus reading other people’s blogs. While I believe there are subject matter experts in the board (DylanK, Fmed to name a few), there are reasons why I try to stay away from it: some opinions are too polarized, borderline zealous. Another reason is that I am the most un-Chinese Chinese person you can find around and given a lot of threads going on end up on that (general) cuisine, well, I would rather stay away.

5 trisha June 14, 2010 at 7:43 pm

i quite like dosas even though most people seem to bash them. there’s a place on fraser that i used to frequent… noru mahal, have you been?

how long has this place been there? back in my high schools days (loooong ago) i attended GVDES (now VLN) which is connected to john oliver. if i had known about this place, i would be lunching there after writing tests. instead i usually wandered over to breka bakery and had coffee and a treat. hmm… i wonder if you can order a dosa to go? that would look strange, i’m sure.

6 LotusRapper June 14, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Kim I can see where you’re coming from, and I do agree with you. Not having my own food blog means I can say whatever I want on Chowhound (and on other blogs) and not get flamed (much), hahaha.

7 Nancy June 14, 2010 at 10:51 pm

Has anyone tried the dosas at Simply Curries on Kingsway? I think that may be the only time I had one but the owner, Vishy, had a friend who was introducing them in his restaurant and I really enjoyed it. This was a few years ago though.

8 KimHo June 14, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Trisha, I haven’t been to Nooru Mahal but I think I will now! I don’t understand why people bash it but, if I had to guess, that would be because it is unlike other forms of Indian cuisine people is used to… If I had to guess, it would be less than two years. I took some classes in JO and back then it was the Vietnamese shop then.

LR, if you thought my seven levels of food bloggers or Prestons weren’t enough for flame bait… ;)

Nancy, welcome! I have tried to go to Simply Curries but the few instances I have tried they have been closed. Don’t ask… >_< I am not sure if it is still open though. Last time, I was there around lunch time and it looked suspiciously empty. Oh, well…

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