I finally tried Udupi Palace on Saturday evening. Its been two years since I visited South India, so Im not so equipped to judge their authenticity, but I did come away with some impressions about their strengths. We were a group of eight, so were able to try a lot of items on the menu.
Overall, I would go to UP for the idlis, the daily thali (an incredible deal for the amount of food), the uthapams (especially the onion and hot green chile combo) and for dosa. Although the crepes for their dosas got mushy too quickly, the filling was exceptional, making them my #1 choice in the East Bay. And I loved the coconut curry and sambar (rasam?) that come with.
Members of our group ordered chole batura, palak paneer and muttar aloo as well. While these were good, they weren't the best Ive had in the area, so Id stick with the more traditionally South Indian items when going there. Also, I didnt really like the rice or overly greasy pooris, two of the sides that accompany all the entrée dishes (the other is a papad). Instead, Id order the Malabar Parotha as a side. The parotha was a bit greasy and the layers werent as distinct as Id like, but this was still my preferred accompaniment to the curries and such. Each of these plates always comes with the three starch sides, which makes ordering family style difficult (you end up with a lot of extra starch on the table), as well as a pickle or chutney, depending on the dish, and that nice rasam (sambhar?).
Dinner for 8 came to ~$15 each, with a few laasis, a coffee and way too much food. We didn't need double orders of the "curry" dishes, as the waitress suggested -- those little metal bowls go a long way.
1901 University (crosstreet M.L. King, Jr. Way)
Berkeley, CA 94704
I can't wait to return, I'm already craving those idlis.