Udipi Cafe, Franklin, NJ

Udipi is a South Indian restaurant located in a non descript strip mall on Rt 27, right next to a Chicken Holiday (what the heck is Chicken Holiday?). South Indian food is very different from the food most people are familiar with in Indian Restaurants which is typically from northern Indian. South Indian food is known for it’s vegetarian food, particularly idli’s (steamed rice cakes) and dosa’s (crepes made with rice flour and either served plain or stuffed with potatoes and onions).

Rt 27 has a number of South Indian restaurants in the area, serving the large south indian community that lives locally. Udipi is my preferred south indian restaurant and I’ve been coming here for the last couple of years. It’s all about the food because there really isn’t anything else to go for. It’s casual, very basic and to say that it has decor would be an over statement. The restaurant is basically a square room, probably painted 5 years ago with a bunch of formica tables all situated really close together. Even the tiles on the ceiling are yellowing and buckling a little.

The food is excellent, if you stick to the south indian delicacies. The dosa, especially the onion rava masala dosa is excellent. I tried the bhel puri this weekend, it was tart and spicy, just not great. They have a lunch special which is a “thali” that includes a bunch of vegatable dishes, lentils, rice and chappti’s. At $8.99 it’s amazing value and they will keep refilling until you say no or burst!

This weekend I noticed that all the staff are men. This is the case at one of the other south indian restaurants in the area too. Must be a south indian thing! The staff is friendly and eagar, but service is chaotic. There is so much hustle and bustle that you don’t quite know what’s going on. At one point the manager or owner sat at one of the tables in the small restaurant and called his travel agent to book tickets to india, while he was directing the wait staff and also checking on a catering order that was going out. But the food is great.

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