On saturday evening "igj" and his wife, "ChefLisa", "Scott Baio" and his girlfriend and I planned to go to Woodlands South Indian in Chatwsorth as an official Veggie Chowhound Outing (the first of many to come...I hope).
THis is the first real review I have ever wrritten so those who participated, please chime in where necessary.
Overall, the food was very good and we all had a great time. Scott Baio is a vegan but the restuarant was accomodating and we got dishes that were suitable.
We started with the following as apatizers:
1) Rasam - a spicy lentil broth soup - good
2) Gobi Manchurian - deep friend cauliflower florets in a "Indian-Chinese" Manchurian sauce - excellent
3) Appetizer platter with Vada (deep fried lentil doughnuts), samosa, paneer pakora, eggplant and potatop pakora, Mysore bonda (fried potato "knishe"-style balls)and a vegetable cutlet. All were good.
4)An order of idli (steamed lentil and rice dumpling cake) with coconut and tamarind chutneys.
BTW, the chutneys were standrad. I really enjoy South Indian coconut chutney as that is one of the highlights with whatever you eat. In our case, the chuteny wasnt that special.
Then we order a variety of main dishes for everyone to share:
1) Dinner Combination 3 - Upma, Masala Dosa and Payasam- the dosa was crispy and good. THe masala filling was pretty standard. Nothing special, but not bad either. The sambhar was good, not too runny, and had a good micture of different vegetables. The Upma (Cream of wheat with fresh garden vegetables, garnished with nuts) was quite good as well. THe payasam, a sweet dessrt dish, is redcuded milk with vermicelli, saffron and nuts. It was very good!
2) Mysore Masala Dosa - same as above but with a spicy red paste all over the insdie fo the dosa. THe paste was too pastey and not on the dry side. THough it did not hurt the taste. But I belive that is why the dosa for the Mysore Masala Dosa was not crispy and became a little sogy. Not bad.
3) Pongal with Avial. This was the first time I had tried it and I realy liked it. It was creamy and tasted very much like a indian rissoto. The Avial (a coconut curry that you mic in with the Pondal) was creamy and flavorful. Highly suggest this item. Though igj is the resident expert in South Indian food since he lived in South India for three months and has been eating a variety of South Indian dishes for years. Usually I just eat Dosas, Idlis and Vadas with sambhar. So igj, this is your spot to chime in!
4) Spicy Tofu with vegetables - I thought this dish was very good. It had an Indian chinese manchurian sauce with cubes of lightly fired tofu and red and green peppers. A good dish.
I hope this is helpful. All in all, I had a great time and the best part was too meet some chowhounds face to face. THe woodlands staff was pretty quick and accomodating and helped us figure out how to share most of the food. I have heard that Woodlands is "oilier" than populr places like Parus. Though I havent been to paru's, I did not think this was the case. THe only fault I have to give Woodlands is that they are deep in SFV in Chatsworth. But I guess they are trying to cater to the large South Indian population in the area and in Simi Valley.
If you have any questions, let me know.