"Bitter, batter, better."
For those who worship at the hallowed gates of the Masala Dosa Temple, Kuala Lumpur is a proverbial hot-spot. Spanning every kind of Indian cuisine you can imagine, the highest represented is by far various amalgamations of South Indian. Atop the mountain of religiously awakened dishes, is a trusty Dosa. Achingly delicious fermented batter spread glass-thin on a piping hot flat-top sprinkled with oil or ghee, a mound of house made potato masala cocooned in the middle, as the ends are rolled around it to conceal it. Not to be ignored, a cacaphony of sambars, chutneys and other excitements flower the dish like supporting actors that stole the show.
Some people like them ultra thin and crispy, some like them pancake fat and sheer white. I like mine somewhere in the middle, crispy edges and glass-like parchments interrupted by areas of thicker flesh to contrast textures and tastes on one single edible sphere.
Unbelievably enough, there are bad dosa's. Yes, even a seemingly attractive photograph can lie. Collected below in lists of euphoric silliness are my "worst to first" in and around Kuala Lumpur!
The underachievers to the instant believers
chennai spice - 3/10
In life's dire graveyard of discarded memories, this dosa will forever lay. Sad to the point of pity, limp as a jellyfish, blonde as the strands left behind in a tanning booth, this dosa lay weeping on the plate imploring me to put her out of her misery. I only managed a few bites before I too felt listless, and the sorrow of humid afternoon air wrapped around me like stabbing knives of jeering deities, as my feet hurried away to find solace in a cold beer.
Devis corner - 4/10
Synonymous with it's famed banana leaf lunches upstairs in the AC refuge, I made the mistake of thinking they probably did a good dosa. They don't. Lame beyond comprehension... avoid at all costs and eat their banana leaf instead if you happen to be in Bangsar.
mtr - 4/10
This one comes purely down to personal preference. MTR's dosa's are Karnataka style, which is slightly different. Heavy on the ghee, it was literally drenched in it, and came with an extra small cup resting on top in case you wanted to pour it over like some maniacal maple syrup from heart-attack land.
Chaat masala - 5/10
Too many times to count have I been told by locals about amazing places to eat, only to find them to be suffering from rabies of the tastebuds. Today was one of those days. 4 seperate people said "Chat Masala does best Masala Dosa", well, thats probably like stopping at a corner in D.C. and having 10 people tell you to go to Taco Bell or KFC. The dosa was far from terrible, but it was unfathomably uninspired.
Whoever recommended it deserves a tight slap. All four of them.
Vinny jeyaA - 5/10
A frustratingly close-to-being-great dosa. The actual batter, the sides, everything was on point.. but the filling of the dosa was a strange cabbage-bonanza that just didn't fit the dish.
sri paandi - 7/10
So highly recommended by the owner of Hyderabad Birjani House (amazing spot), I simply had to check it out. It took 3 attempts to actually get there, 2 of them destroyed by timing or incessant loud construction from the back of the kitchen.
Dosa-wise, everything was generally good but there was this bizarre sweet-taste to the actual dosa. Perhaps it was the oil or ghee they cooked it in, but it left a lingering unease.
saravanAa bhavan - 7/10
Of all the branches of this world-wide chain i've visited, the one in Silom Bangkok has kept the highest standards and consistency. All my other experiences with them have varied from excellent (Tooting, London) to downright awful (Muscat, Bahrain). The one in KL does a solid actual dosa, things start falling apart at the sambar and chutneys. The sambar is fine, but the green and red chutney here veers off the cliff in terms of quality shown in other restaurants bearing the same name.
adyar anand bhavan - 8/10
The third best in town sits right next door to Sri Paandi. They, however, don't use sugar in their batter. Crisp, well made dosa with tasty sambars and chutneys in a spotlessly clean locale.
mr naan & mrs idly - 8/10
For a second I thought I was headed to some new hipster Tamil place where the waiters would all have slick moustaches and tattoos. I quickly realised upon entering that it was just a funny name. The waiters did have moustaches, but they were not the hipster kind rolled in pomade.
As the amber hued orb was placed in front of me a shot of fear paralysed me "This doesn't look that great, what have I done". Existential anxiety was quickly erased as I put the first crispy bite into my mouth, soaked in utterly spectacular sambar. Special mention to the red tomato chutney which was world class.
the light at the end of the funnel
sangeetha vegetarian - 9/10
The winner! Not by a country mile, but by a village cobra smile. After battling the steps at Batu Caves under oppressive satanic heat, I fled the scene and ended up under the AC machine at Sangeetha wondering "Can KL really deliver a mindblowing dosa?".
The answer was a resounding YES! Perfectly crispy-soft ratio, golden sunlight infused surface, obscenely tasty sambar and chutneys, great unfussy service and a price that leaves you with change in your pocket. Nothing more to say, it's my ultimate go-to in KL for authentic South Indian Dosa.
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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