Ok I give this one to North Bangalore. The best masala dosa in town is found at CTR in Malleswaram (ok I’m going by one data point, haven’t been there more often). The thing that goes by the name of masala dosa in Vidyarthi Bhavan is a completely different animal. It is thick, it is literally deep fried, and tasty, yes. But it’s not a masala dosa.
The problem with restaurants having “flagship dishes” (like the masala dosa at either CTR or Vidyarthi Bhavan) is that you are usually loathe to try out their other dishes which could be quite tasty as well. For example, the idli-vada at Vidyarthi Bhavan is quite good, and I’m told that the rava vada is awesome (unfortunately I went there on a weekday morning when they don’t make rava vada). And I don’t know if it’s good business practice for restaurants to have a “flagship dish”.
Coming back to “real” masala dosa and Gandhi Bazaar, you should definitely go to this quaint old little place called Mahalakshmi Tiffin Room on DVG Road, between Gandhi Bazaar circle and North Road. It’s a fairly old-fashioned place, doesn’t serve sambar with masala dosa (only chutney), happily serves one-by-two masala dosa and is generally not very crowded.
It is one of those places with a wooden door, with a wooden shelf in the corner which has pepsi, mirinda, etc. The service is quick and efficient and the food is tasty.
Of late I’m not too impressed by the masala dosa at Adigas, which not so long ago I used to absolutely crave (for example, when I returned to Bangalore after a 10-week trip to London 5 years ago, I went to an Adigas for masala dosa straight from the airport. Now it doesn’t seem to be all that worth it). Or maybe I’m biased in my opinion because the Adigas I most frequent is the one at Embassy Golf Links, where my office is located.
Oh and I need to mention here that I absolutely loathe the Madras masala dosa, the thing that is white and not very crisp, with soggy palya and served with some three varieties of chutney, and flat sambar.
Ok this is a post that has been delayed by about a couple of weeks. One of those things that has been in my head now for a while so writing it. So some two or three Sundays back (more likely to be two) I went to the famous CTR in Malleswaram for breakfast. For the first time ever. Yeah I now it’s supposed to be a classic place and all that but it’s only now that I’m getting acquainted with north/west parts of Bangalore so had completely missed out on this so far.
So as per what several people had told me at various points of time in life, the Masala Dosa at CTR was brilliant. Unparalleled. The difference between CTR and Vidyarthi Bhavan is that the former makes masala dosa just the way that other restaurants do, but only much better and tastier. The dosa at Vidyarthi Bhavan is a different animal altogether and am told the has very different composition to what is made in other restaurants.
There is another important difference between CTR and Vidyarthi Bhavan and thats in terms of service and crowd management. Vidyarthi Bhavan does an excellent job in this regard, striving to “rotate table covers” as quickly as possible. Within moments of you taking your seat, your order gets taken, the dosa arrives, as does the bill and a look from the waiter asking you what the fuck you are doing there considering you have finished your tiffin. Extremely efficient from the point of view of the restaurant (in terms of maximizing capacity) and for customers looking for a quick dosa, but not so from the point of view of people who want to linger for a while and chat.
Unfortunately the one time I’ve been to CTR (2 sundays back) I was in a bit of a hurry since I had to go attend a quiz. Maybe the intention of the restaurant is to allow customers to sit for a while and chat up, but I don’t know if you can actually do that since at any given point of time (reports might be biased since this was a Sunday morning, 9am) there are four people waiting for you to leave so that they can grab your seat. This large crowd that is in waiting is also I think a result of slow service at the restaurant (simple queuing theory – for a given arrival rate, the slower the service rate, the more the average queue length).
There were some simple tasks in which CTR didn’t do so well. For example, making a customer wait for ten minutes before you take his order is not only ten minutes wasted for him, it is also ten minutes of absolutely unproductive “table time” – something that a fast food place like this can’t really afford. And then the ordered items also took a long time to arrive (again, most people at CTR have the same order – one “masaal” so I do hope the make dosas “to stock”) – but then their kitchen capacity may not match up to the capacity of the seating area (which isn’t too much). You pay bill at the table itself rather than at the counter which means you sit there for even longer. And so forth.
This post is supposed to be a part of this series that I was writing some four years back examining the Supply Chain practices and delivery models at various fast food restaurants in Bangalore. I have only one observation with respect to CTR and based on that I don’t give it very high marks in terms of supply chain and delivery efficiency. However, the dosa there is so awesome that I’m sure that I’ll brave the crowds and go there more often and might be able to make better observations about the process.