Madras Dosa House

Our Rating

8 Atmosphere
10 Taste
9 Service
9

We came across this restaurant on our city-wide hunt for good chai.  Originally we really had no intention of going there to eat much, but after tasting these dosas, we couldn’t stop ourselves from ordering more and going back often!

The location of this restaurant feels a bit “off the beaten path” even though there is a bus stop nearby.  When you crave dosas, this is the place to go. We’ve tried other dosa places in Vancouver…most of them are greasy and inconsistent or not crisp but this one has been consistently mind-blowing.

Our Recommendations:

Dosas. If the fillings sound good to you go for that dosa. I personally love the plain dosa while other people I’ve been there with prefer a filled dosa. Dosas come with the filling (unless plain), a sambar (which is a light curry sauce) and two chutneys (one coconut and one tomato/coconut). They’re all epic. I would also highly recommend the paneer pakoras – they’re the best pakoras I’ve ever had.

Venue:

The atmosphere is clean and simple with tables neatly arranged and enough space between tables that it doesn’t feel cramped. The restaurant is owned by a friendly couple and service has always been great and consistent. The place can get a bit warm in the summer especially at the window seats but overall it’s quite comfortable.

Drinks

Generally we try to order chai whenever we go to an Indian restaurant. The presentation here is very nice, with the cup being served with a saucer and spoon (not shown in picture), but the flavour of the chai wasn’t particularly smooth. It had a mildly bitter taste and it lacked intense flavour unfortunately. (Note: we’ve come back here for the dosas on several occasions and the chai is better sometimes, but it was unfortunately inconsistent.) The chai has always smelled great and is served at the perfect drinking temperature which to us is steaming, but not scalding. We’ll likely keep ordering it, but it’s not the reason we go here.

Food

Paneer Pakora

Paneer mixed with chickpea flour and deep fried served with tamarind sauce.

I usually find pakora to be a miss…with the ratio of batter to filling to be too high and the grease level to be high as well. These however were incredible. Each pakora was sliced in half and there was a nice slab of paneer in the middle surrounded by immense flavour – it was sandwiched inside a super flavourful chickpea batter which was light and crunchy. The balance of cheese and crunchy batter was perfect. While the pakoras themselves were delicious, dipping them in the tamarind sauce made them other-wordly – the sauce had the perfect balance of sweetness and sourness and complemented the crisp pakora and delicious paneer without turning it soggy or overpowering it. I could eat these all day but then I’d have to roll myself out. I ended up discovering these on my 4th visit to the restaurant – I’ve been surprised with every new dish I’ve tried – especially considering I’d given this place a try for their chai and then got blown away by their dosa.

Dahi Vada

Deep fried lentil donut soaked in a yogurt sauce.

Not going to lie, I read this description and thought…hmm…donuts and yogurt sauce? However on the recommendation of one of the people who accompanied me on this dosa adventure who had eaten this as a kid, I decided I might as well give it a try. Curiosity got the best of me as I dove into this dish without taking a picture first but it comes covered in a yogurt and tamarind sauce and it’s hard to quite understand what’s in it. When you cut into a donut you notice a bit of crispiness but it’s got a nice solid texture and is easy to cut into and scoop with a lot of sauce. The donut isn’t sweet…for anyone who was expecting a ‘donut’ – it’s in a donut shape but it’s savoury…like a solid dumpling…hard for me to describe but it was really tasty, not rich or heavy and the light yogurt with tamarind sauce gave it a unique flavour mix – there was cooling, refreshing, tangy with a hint of sweet, and a solid piece of savoury donut. I really enjoyed this and that surprised me – I think I really enjoyed the yogurt tamarind sauce mixture, I even scooped the extras at the end.

Dosas

Thin rice and lentil crepes with a filling of your choice (or plain)

The dosas are this restaurant’s star attraction! The first time we went here we didn’t go for food. We really wanted to sample the chai and “maybe” grab a snack so we just ordered one plain dosa…and we devoured it! It comes with two chutneys and sambar which are basically all different dipping options. Each has its own unique flavour and each was spectacular. The coconut chutney is my personal favourite – it’s light and refreshing but has a delightful flavour and pairs well with the dosa. The sambar has a smooth and light flavour as well – it’s not too spicy but has enough spice to add flavour to the dosa. We kept jumping back and forth between different bites with each sauce and soon realized that we’d eaten through the whole large dosa. So obviously we ordered another one and repeated the process. (Considering that we weren’t hungry in the first place before arriving at the restaurant, hopefully our devouring gives you an idea of how delicious this was!). The dosa itself is perfectly crisp and soft (this sounds like a paradox but you’ll understand when you have one) and it’s not greasy.

Needless to say, we’ve been back several times already and we’ve branched out to try other things too, like the filled dosas and some of the appetizers listed above. (However, we still do usually also order a plain dosa just because it’s so good with it’s perfect crunchiness/softness ratio and perfect flavours.) The filled dosas are just as delicious and are quite filling. Which one you should get depends on what flavours you prefer. There are a bunch of great options (we haven’t disliked any of the ones we’ve tried) and one of our personal favourites is the Paneer Masala Dosa. In general we like paneer and this dosa has a great balance of flavourful ingredients to go with the paneer.

Service

The four times I’ve gone we’ve interacted with the owners, a delightful, kind and soft-spoken couple. The restaurant is usually quiet when we go with a few other customers so we haven’t had the need to wait for a spot (yet) and they’re reasonably attentive to when we’re ready to order. They genuinely care about our experience with the food and that comes out both in how they ask us about our experience and take the time to listen as well as in the quality of the food they bring out. Everything has been consistently great, food has always been cooked properly and tastes amazing.

Conclusion

Would we eat there again. Of course!

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