"My preferred breakfast is always a Masala Dosa."
Few addictions run deeper than Dosa-cravings. Faced with an eternal banquet of earthly delights, more often than not i'd line up by the dosa stand and watch the fermented batter sizzle as it hits the flat top. Constructed like a perfect cuban cigar, with potato masala filling and a side-car of sambar, coconut and tomato chutney. It's the ultimate breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Georgetown is famous for it's little India. More specifically Leboh Penang, a street crammed with more restaurants than you could possibly eat at in a month, sari stores, spice markets and of course temples. In an earnest attempt to give as many places as I could a fighting chance, but also faced with the mortality of time, these are the dosa's I ate my way through, and their rankings from Worst to First.
Mind you, none of them were awful, there were just some that shone brighter.
Argubly not a bad dosa, however it lacked any real merit. The actual filling was a bit bland, the sambar was bland, the coconut chutney was watery and the potato masala had very little oomph. Stack this up against most dosa's you could get outside of Asia and it would probably be an 8/10 but with competition this stiff, i'm afraid it's left hanging.
Veloo Villas ($)
I told my local shopkeeper I'd been to Veloo Villas and it wasn't as good as I expected. He chuckled and reported proudly "It used to be best dosa in town, but new owner and cook, not same".
That makes perfect sense, the dosa was decent, but not close to being amazing. Sure the price is unbeatable and the service is friendly but better dosa's are to be found barely 100 meters away.
Thali NR Sweets ($)
Winning hands down for the oddest name, this thali place is also famous for their dosa's. My overall enjoyment may have been hampered by the fact that mid-meal a Chinese woman pulled her baby out of a pushchair and started changing its dirty diaper on a bench INSIDE the restaurant, surrounded by about 20 people trying to eat their lunch. Words fail me.
Horror-aside, the dosa was thin and crispy, but the potato masala, sambar and chutneys were not overly exciting.
Ostrasized from the main flock down a side-street, avoiding the majority of tourist dollars, means this place has to deliver to keep the locals happy. The two times i've been in, they've always been packed so something must be right. To be fair most people have been eating dishes other than dosa's, so my judgement of the entire place doesn't rest on one dish. However, this is a dosa competition and theirs was smack bang in the middle.
A good dosa but too greasy, reminding me of more Karnataka style than Tamil Nadu. A solid sambar, and chutneys but lacking the wow factor.
Sri Ananda Bahwan ($)
Perhaps not the goldennest dosa ever, but the flavours were spot on. They didn't have the usual potato masala inside, more like a gobi-masala but it was nevertheless, delicious. The sambars and chutneys were super on point which you'd expect from this stallwart of Indian goodness.
Definitely a dosa to sink your fingers into.
Sri Subham ($)
Almost the perfect dosa. Superb crisp/fluffy ratio, good potato masala but not immaculate, sambars of extra-high quality, friendly service and a clean environment with AC to quell the demons of Penang.
You'd be hard, hard pressed to find a better dosa than this, but one place just swung it by an inch.
Winner, Winner, Chicken Tikka Dinner
Chettiars Tiffin Cafe ($)
With every one of these places costing less than a dollar for a masala dosa, you can rest your traveller nerves and safely try them all without breaking a tenner. Chettiars inched past the competition by the finest of margins, by covering all bases and offering a surprise. The green chutney here was sublime, with it's fiery kick that was unexpected, counter-balancing the rest effortlessly. Also, an integral part being the potato masala, was neither too watery nor too dry.
The service is friendly, the waiters keep checking on you to see that you're still alive and breathing, the place is constantly packed with Tamils and other locals grazing like blissful beings. It's my favourite dosa in town, and if you want to disagree, you gotta try them all to have a fair opinion, so get going!
10/10 (based solely on the fact that these were all in Penang, and not worldwide)
All these recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively
"Tastes are subjective, so take everything with a pinch of salty tears"
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