Vasanta Bhavan is one in a long list of South Indian restaurants with the Bhavan suffix; other notables being Saravana, Ananda and Sivestar. This Al Nahda branch on the very fringe of Dubai and Sharjah is one of four branches. Its interior is simple, presentable and most importantly, clean and cool. There’s a big glass display which allows one to look into their busy kitchen, always a treat when they’re making their giant paper dosas.
I have a weekly routine of pigging out on South Indian for breakfast on Fridays. This was my first time doing the same for dinner…on a week night. And as I was shaking up the norms, I thought I’d try a couple of new items at the same time, breaking with my usual dosa, idli, vada combo. Vasanta has a different set menu for each day of the week.
So, from that day’s menu I chose the Paruppu Vada, a crispy and savoury deep-fried fritter made from channa dal and spices. It comes by default with sambar and chutneys. The sambar, heavily accented with ground coriander seed, is excellent. It reminded me so much of the sambar at Royal Garden in Karama.
I then tried their Vendhaya Dosa, a soft and spongy paratha-sized dosa prepared with rice and fenugreek seeds. It is the closest thing you will get to a homemade dosa. I guarantee, if you have this with South Indian friends there will be some reference to mums and/or aunties. Again, this is served with that beautiful sambar and their three chutneys; coconut, coriander and onion – all delicious.
Just to have a reference point against other similar restaurants I have visited, I also ordered an idli and (my favourite) a vada, something my smiley waiter found hard to believe after he’d seen me struggle to finish my last dish. He actually looked back at me on his way to the kitchen and asked with frowned brows and a deep nod, are you sure? The lengths I go to bring you a balanced restaurant review. The idli, although not made fresh, was fluffy and light. The vada, non-oily with a beautiful crunch to its crust. Both were simply taken to another level with that lovely sambar.
The staff at Vasanta, although polite, only really warmed to me when I was halfway through pigging out. It’s usually at this point when I forego all self-esteem and slobber, chomp, munch, slurp and burp my way through the rest of my meal. They must have thought, this crazy Ferengi must either be really hungry or really like our food, because from then on, they were all over me, offering me water and tissues and OMG, the best South Indian filter coffee this side of Meena Bazaar. They can be a friendly lot at Vasanta.
So, there you have it – Vasanta, not just your average Bhavan and well worth a visit.
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Xerxes physically visits each and every venue he reviews and pays full price for whatever he eats and drinks. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts or free meals in return for reviews. What you have read was not influenced in any way by the venue.
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