Monday, June 07, 2004

Trying a new restaurant (not counting on vacation) can be a bit of a risky venture, especially with a vegetarian around. You never know if you're going to sit down, only to discover that either a) a salad costs $19.95 or b) there are no veggie options besides said salad.

Luckily, in our trip to Udupi this weekend, we had neither of these things to worry about. Not only had it been recommended by an infamous cheap friend (and seconded by another - though he's not cheap ;), but one was a veggie, the other vegan *and* the website professed their dedication to vegetarian cuisine. Rockin'.

Udupi is, as are many Indian restaurants, holed up in a Parma strip mall. I don't know what it is about Indian restaurants in strip malls in Parma, but the two seem to go hand-in-hand. Once you enter though, the whole place opens up to you. It's expansive beyond what we would have thought from the meager sign and entrance. Typical Indian "artwork" hangs on the walls. The big difference is that Udupi serves mainly Southern Indian dishes (though there are some Northern options). It's, I believe, the only place in the Cleveland area which does so.

Southern Indian food seems to differ from Northern on quite a few counts (and maybe Mike can elaborate on this in the comments section? ;). The main one we noticed was, in addition to the different spices used (much more savory than the sweet spices used in the North), a bigger reliance on tomato sauces. Most dishes were served with a spicy tomato dipping sauce and it seemed to play a central role in many of their dishes. There was also much less of a reliance on heavy cream, making for a lighter feeling meal.

And..despite the fact we enjoyed appetizers, bread & tea, in addition to our meals, we walked out of there only about $25.00 shy of what we walked in with and still had enough for lunch tomorrow. Oh, I didn't mention their portions, did I? One word: Huge. Two words: freggin huge. My Mysore Masal Dosai was about 1.5' x 1.5', overflowing the plate it was on and the bread we got (a deep fried puffy affair) was the size of a small child. You need not fear walking out with an empty stomach or wallet at Udupi ;)