The first thing I need to tell you about Udupi Bhavan (UB) is that the food is really uniquely excellent. Then I need to tell you that it is tucked into a hidden and sideways- oriented mini strip mall in the grubby industrial outskirts of Lowell. Its insides are as bland as bland can be, but it is clean and comfortable. Its staff is friendly but only one, a smiling balding fellow, can really tell you about the food.
Now back to the good stuff- that food.
I must say, it always surprises me not to find swarms of American vegetarians at these rare Southern Indian restaurants.(We are so lucky to have these restaurants in MA, thanks to the high tech companies that employ a significant number of South Indians.)In this case, unlike the close-by competitor, Priya, or the lesser Pongal, Udupi Bhavan does not serve any meat or seafood. Like the huge country of India itself ( land of 28 states, 21 languages and hundreds of dialects), Indian vegetarian cuisine is very diverse and complex .It also offers a lot of gluten-free starches, breads and crepes ( that are made of varying types of lentils and rice.)Each of the four states of South India has its own cuisine and many dishes are not common between states. Depending on the Indian state of the restaurant owner, chefs and targeted clientele, South India restaurants in the U.S. will not offer all the same items.
On Wednesdays UB has an all-you-can-eat Dosa menu and on Sundays 11:30am-9pm, they offer a large buffet that includes 3 differently filled (wheat) dosas(served at table.)
We have not yet visited on a Wed. or Sun. Of our menu samplings,our fav dishes here are the:
-Rava dosa(rice and cream of wheat batter dosa)- huge lacy crispy dosa, totally addictive. I like mine with the potato masala filling that usually comes in a flour dosa
-Pesarat dosa (rice and lentil batter dosa filled with uppuma)
-Malabar Adai- a very thick lentil batter pancake with vegetables in the batter
-Avial- vegetable chunks in coconut sauce
-Rasam- very complex sour and spicy soup
- Vegetable (patty)Cutlet, fried (includes beets! I had no idea they had beets in India, but they do)
-Medhu Wada - deep fried savory lentil donut-shaped fritters
Payasam - vermicelli noodles in a pool of cardamom cream w/ almonds
With all our Indian savories we order a bowl of plain yoghurt ; the bright acidic flavor perfectly complements the rich vegetarian dishes.
From us, 5 min. north of Tufts, it takes about 45-60 min. to get there. The much larger and more-known Priya, which I have reviewed before, has the plus of chicken dishes and some other specialties, but UB's dosas and all the dishes listed in our favs- are far superior. We're anxious to return for a $13 Wed. UB dosa dinner, and hope to see more CHs there in the future.
1717 Middlesex St.,
Lowell MA 01854 Exit 32 off Rt 3 North