I just got back from my first meal at newly opened Ananda Bhavan. Located more or less across the street from Thattukada in a storefront previously occupied by a Sri Lankan restaurant which screamed "going out of business" (for 2 years before doing so), it's basically along the same stretch that includes Thattukada, Hyderabadi Spice, a non-veg Tamil place, an Indian Chinese and so forth.
On weekends they do an all you can eat veg thali buffet which is 5.50 and has a very generous variety of dishes. We ordered one thali, the chilli paneer (dry), a rava onion dosa and mini idli.
The thali came with literally about 12 or more vegetable dishes some of which were OK, some of which were good and two or so of which were really great. The standouts were a beetroot and lentil dish which was unlike anything I've had before. Thattukada does a similar beetroot dish but the flavor at Anada was so much better and the dal offered a nice texture to each bite. Also excellent was the sambar which the idli also came immersed in.
Other dishes included gourde (bland), mogo (decent and Indian Chinese style), another two dals (one of a medium thickness and the other basically just liquid), a cabbage dish, a green bean dish, a potato dish which seemed a tad undercooked and another excellent one in the form of sarawathisingh (the tube like Indian vegetable that you break up and eat the inside of) which was wonderfully smokey and the best preparation of this vegetable I've ever had.
All of this was all you can eat for 5.50 and included even more dishes than I can remember here. It's all served with rice. Appam can be ordered separately.
The mini idli with sambar was actually very good. Vasanta Bhavan down the road has this magical tendency to never ever ever ever have idli in so it was a welcome relief to just be able to order them. Nice texture and good flavor. Again, good sambar.
The chilli paneer was decent, but it could've been better if the paneer was fried beforehand and if it was more the brown sort than the bright red sort (aka more vinegar and soy sauce.) Instead it was still a bit too gloopy for a dry chilli paneer and very red.
Finally the dosa was not exactly a stand out. It came late and quite oily. We think it may have been rushed as they forgot to place the order. The texture and crispiness were correct but the oiliness was a really unpleasant addition. I've never really had an oily dosa before. We'll have to give the dosas another shot though...
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