Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Udupis of Matunga

An udupi can mean different things to different people. A town in Karnataka, a vegetarian cuisine that first started there or a barebones no-frills cafe serving South Indian food. In Bombay though, an udupi restaurant can also be any neighborhood cafe you can eat familiar, homely food at no great expense.

But if you really want to see an udupi (the cafe, not the town), the only place to head to is Matunga in Central Mumbai. They are all the same, these cafes with metal chairs and tables, quick and efficient service and the best South Indian food on earth.

The first time I went to Matunga's King Circle, which probably has ten udupis next to each other, I settled on Cafe Mysore. It was not a choice really, for I went early in the morning and they were the only one that seemed open and in business. I've since been to Cafe Madras and Idli House and A. Ramanayak and countless others. All of these offer the snacking choices of idlis, dosas and uttapams. Some also offer the thali, depending on what time you get there.

Still I suggest you stick to Cafe Mysore, as I have done once I was finished sampling all the rest. For starters, it's bigger so you stand the best chance of getting a table (in Cafe Madras, the most popular of the lot, you will always end up sharing one). This also means that they will rush you less. Udupis in general are not places to linger - you order, you eat, you leave - but at least in Cafe Mysore they won't mind your staying an extra few mintues.

And finally the food. It's uniformly good, no matter which udupi you land at but you will notice a subtle difference in flavors everywhere. And Cafe Mysore seems to agree the most with my palate with its not-too-spicy sambar and even more amazing rasam vada. I love their idlis, but I love their masala dosa more. And I can never leave without eating the funnily named ulundu dosa, made with just the lentils and no rice. And dare you leave without sampling their filter coffee - there is no better place to go and overeat in all of Bombay.

10 comments:

Prathibha said...

Thank you simran for letting me know abt this!!
Being a south indian i would love to know the best south indian restaurants in mumbai..
I think i have seen abt this cafe even in a tv show..Will definitely try and let u knw dear!1

Suparna said...

Hi Simran,
Though I dont stay in Mumbai, I can vouch for the quality of food they serve at Udupi restaurants :) They have small and big outlets almost in every place.
The idli sambar and the manglore bajji is damn good and ya like u mentioned rasam vada is not to be forgotten,awsome aromatic coffee too... :) nice write, would be def. useful many foodie friends.
TC

Laura said...

OK posts like this make me really wish I could visit India. Our selection of Indian food is ALL the same (North Indian, Moghul influenced). We have one South Indian restaurant (2 hoyrs away near my parents) specializing in different kinds of chaat with a buffet and it is really good but I am sure it is just the tiniest fraction of what else there is.

*Sigh*

Bharti said...

Thank goodness for the the Lemont temple here and the amazing Udupi restaurant that opened up close to home last year. I'm still envious though.

Anonymous said...

I would like to share my experience about The Udipis Of Matunga.I used to study at a college in Matunga in the early 1970s and we used to frequent an udipi by the name of Sharda Bhavan which was exactly opp. Matunga Station.It will surprise you to note that they served the softest dahi vadas I have ever eaten anywhere. The dahi was tempered with mustard,cumin curry leaves and green chillies.If you have the time do try it and you will not be disappointed.

*KHUSHI* said...

Being a matunga resident I feel proud to read this topic...
if you need images of matunga pics to add in this topic, I can send u

Pradosh said...

Chanced upon your blog today ... really good !!
And I am a frequent visitor to Cafe Mysore in Matunga too - it makes for a tasty quick meal if you do not want to eat anything elaborate. The chutney is really to die for, though funnily, I havent tried the ulundu dosa yet. Will do it next time I go there.

Btw have you noticed newspaper cuttings of a very famous patron of Cafe Mysore near the entrance ? Check next time you are there ...

annoda said...

Being born and Brought up in Matunga you can say that I was Born and brought up in Cafe Mysore. Being just 5 mins distance from my house it is the best place where I could have found my Food solace. All the south indian dishes are great and the sambar is just awesome and yes the ulundu dosa. In places where they fill u up with great food decor doesnt matter though they have changed the decor now in the ground floor giving more space for visitors. If you love south indian breakfasts Cafe Mysore is the place to visit which also happens to be the fav palce of the senior Ambani couple.

Shilpa said...

I studied in a Matunga college and I love the Udupis in Matunga! U missed out Ramashraya.... its close to Matunga station and serves the yummiest Mysore Masala Dosas ever!! :)

Naresh Nayak said...

Hi there!

It's great reading about Cafe Mysore on the web. We have a Facebook page that you can join.

I hope all of you visit Cafe Mysore once again!

Also love your writing style. You should be a foodie.

Cheers,

Nayak
Cafe Mysore