Sunday, August 05, 2012

Udupi Palace

As you may recall, I've still yet to find an Indian restaurant in San Francisco that I really like.  But I love Indian food, so I keep on trying!  I continued my quest tonight down Valencia Street, to Udupi Palace.  I *think* they are related to much newer Gajalee, just a few blocks down, which served us some pretty decent Indian food on our last visit.

I had a handful of other reasons for picking Udupi tonight.  First, Indian food is always a good choice on Sunday nights, since fine dining really doesn't ever work on out Sundays, as most executive chefs have the (well deserved!) night off.  I also still have a sore throat, and any food that requires any real effort in swallowing is insanely unappealing.  Soft curry sounded like exactly what my throat ordered!  And finally, I had some GoPago credits burning a hole in my pocket, and Udupi was one of only a few well rated places on there.  Sunday night + sore throat + free = Udupi!

The restaurant was much busier than Aslam's Rosai, a very good sign.  By the time I left, there was a large line out the door.  Decor was simple, wooden tables and chairs.  Everything seemed clean.  Service was efficient.  Water glasses were kept refilled.

GoPago worked like a charm, although they only had the take out option on there, so I used it, but then put in the notes that I was eating there instead.  A little awkward and I wasn't convinced my order would show up at my table correctly, but it did.  They also did not have a section on GoPago listing the desserts, so I couldn't order dessert, and had to go elsewhere to get my rice pudding fix!

Overall, it was decent food, definitely better than most of the other places I've tried, but it still doesn't really leave me rushing to return.  There has to be somewhere good in this city for Indian food, and I'm determined to find it!
Paneer Makhani: Cottage cheese cubes in tomato and cream gravy, served with rice, chapati, pickle, raita and papad.  $10.95.
All curries come on a platter, with rice, chapati, pickle, raita, and papad.  I *love* this fact.  My favorite part about Indian food is mixing things together, particularly having some cooling raita to go with my curry.  And I love having bread to dip into the delicious sauces.  And rice.  Normally I'd have to order all of these components separately, and usually I just pick one of rice or bread, and usually skip the raita, so this was a very welcome presentation!

The rice was very fluffy, rather buttery.  I don't generally eat a lot of rice, but this was pretty good and I ate far more of it than I ever expected to.  It was also warm, clearly not having been plated too far in advance (which I find happens all the time with platters like this!)

The chapati was super poofy, with a nice hearty flavor from the whole wheat.  It was clearly fresh, but more oily than I cared for.  I did enjoy having something to dunk into my sauce though.

I really did not like the pickles.  They were sour with some very off putting spicing.  I'm not sure what it was, but I really, really did not like it.

The raita was really good.  Very refreshing, and complimented the rich sauce of my curry well.  It had cucumbers and onion in it, that were clearly fresh and still crispy, and hadn't been sitting around in the yogurt all day.  My favorite dish on the platter.

The paneer makhani came piping hot.  Almost too hot even.  I really appreciated that it was clearly delivered to me as soon as it was ready.  There was a generous amount of paneer in here, probably 10 cubes, each several bites each.  It wasn't particularly notable paneer though, somewhat rubbery.  The sauce was creamy, tomatoe-y, and decently spiced.  I wish it had a bit more oomph too it though.

The papad ... was missing.  I realized that it was not included almost immediately, but I didn't really want it since it would have likely just scratched my sore throat anyway, so I didn't say anything.

Overall, everything was pretty decent, and at $10.95 it was a really great value.  The other Indian restaurants we've been too lately have all been a few dollars more per entree, and were all served a la carte.  In particular, comparing to Aslam's Rosai, only a block down the street and a similar style of restaurant, the entrees were $13 there, rice an additional $3, and bread another $3, so this same platter would have been at least $19 there (not including raita, pickle, or papad).  And their entrees had far less paneer.  Udupi was much, much better, not only in value, but also in taste.
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