Madras Dosa House
5656 Fraser St
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…
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…
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”…
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.
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.