Monday, October 20, 2008
Udipi Ganesh Vilas at Ceylon Road
Hubby recalled this place he used to visit for good briyani. It's at Ceylon Road, just a bit further in from the feuding Katong Laksa (49 and 328) stalls at the junction of East Coast Road. But the shop has changed. It's now an Indian vegetarian shop, offering Northern, Southern and tandoori items. Hmm! We gave it a shot anyway, and were pleasantly rewarded with a nice experience.
Started with some onion pakoras (or pakoda), just S$1.50. These were fried a little too hard, but the taste grew on us. Comes with a milky, grated coconut dip.
My briyani set (S$5) comes with a couple of vegetable dishes (long beans, chickpea curry and mixed vegetables), raita, a large portion of vegetable briyani, chapati, papadum, and the most healthy sweet/dessert I've seen in a set meal - a banana! I'm not usually a big fan of vegetarian dishes, but I rather liked this. The briyani was richly infused with spices, and almost good enough to eat on its own. But it takes on a different character when paired with the side dishes. It's nice mixing and matching to see what you get.
The Southern Indian meal set (S$5.50) gives you also a medley of vegetable dishes, generous portion of steamed rice, papadum, resam, dhal, yoghurt, and again, banana for dessert. Oh, and there was a surprise of a fat, dried chili strangely filled with salt under the papadum, which gave tastebuds a lovely jolt when bitten into. It also transforms whatever you're eating into something else altogether.
Each of the dishes offered their own unique flavours. Hubby said this was the first time he's had an Indian vegetarian meal that didn't taste the same across the board.
And guess what, the friendly wait staff kept coming back to ask us if we wanted refills of any of our dishes or rice. Gosh, such hospitality! Yes, I remember certain shops in Serangoon also practised this. They make sure customers eat to their fill and satisfaction. We didn't really need refills though. We were quite full with the set as they were.
Some of the dishes are rather salty and spicy, so it's nice to see that they offer drinking water on the side. Help yourself. Yes, I doubly checked that this was not water for washing hands.
We went for mango lassi (S$3.50) and Coke Zero (S$1.30) instead though. The mango drink is thick but not too sweet. I would have preferred they use shaved or crushed ice instead of the ice cubes, which failed to cool the drink adequately (due to its viscosity).
You can also choose from an array of colourful Indian sweets, but these are generally too sweet for me, so I didn't try any.
Lots of muruku and fried snacks for takeaway at the back. These were terribly expensive - S$5 for a small 250g pack that normally sells for about S$2. We thought perhaps they used really special and quality spices and flour. So we brought home a pack of the thin muruku but it wasn't the best we've had. The YongHup one is way tastier (no doubt with more MSG too). I'm still tempted by the spiced banana chips on the bottom right but at S$6, I think I'll have to pass.
Their menu at Udipi Ganesh Vilas is huge, but prices small (click to see bigger picture). Snacks from S$1-3, dishes from S$3-6. I think I will try their thosai and some tandoori items next time.
Apart from the takeaway snacks, this place seems cheap and cheerful. Nearby is the Sri Senpaga Vinayagar temple. I hear the shop that was previously here used to support the temple's activities. Not sure if this one does too. But we'll be back again soon.
UDIPI GANESH VILAS
10 Ceylon Road
Open daily 7.30am - 10.30pm
NOTE: Closed during Deepavali on 29-30 October 2008.