South Indian Dosa Mahal (1284 Bloor West, at Lansdowne, 416-516-7701) Complete meals for $11 per person, including all taxes, tip and a mango lassi. Average main $5.50. Open Monday to Saturday 11 am to 10 pm. Closed Sunday. Unlicensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Like most of the restos in this sketchy-ish pocket of Bloor West, Dosa doesn't look pretty from the outside.
Inside, the chairs and tables are pushed together without rhyme or reason, so you sit uncomfortably close to strangers under bright lights and with no music.
But the tiny place has an enormous menu. That's not to say that all items are available all the time, but what's there is good.
Special vegetable meal thali ($5.99) is a filling and delicious combo of basmati rice, roti, pappadam, yogurt, spicy pickled carrots, citrusy split pea soup, a light tomato broth with mustard seeds, dal and three veg curries (potato, crispy broccoli with scallions and anise seeds, and saucy eggplant with tomato).
We're a little worried after halving the boiled egg that comes with the chicken biryani ($6.99), since the yolk is missing. But we forget about it after trying the rest of the dish -- tasty turmeric-stained fried rice and tender chicken pieces in spicy sauce.
The fish poori ($5.99), served with two deep-fried flatbreads, is flavourful but rustic. If you hate skin and bones in your stew, order the veggie poori.
Masala gee dosa ($5.50) and hot pepper uthappam ($5.50) are both filled with potato curry and served with coconut chutney, but the texture of the two flatbreads is different. Dosa is thinner and crispier, while uthappam is like a moist pancake studded with chilies, fresh tomato and onion.
On the way out, grab some fresh samosas. At 10 for $3, they're a take-away steal.