Thasevi Prata – Jalan Kayu, SGP

Thasevi Food Original Jalan Kayu Prata
237/239 Jalan Kayu
+65 6481 1537

The Jalan Kayu area is very well known by locals at THE place for Roti Prata – usually just called Prata by Singaporeans (although some of my friends also swear by the places on Upper Thompson too, especially for the sweeter variants of this dish).  In fact, that’s probably all this area is noteable for as the street itself is nothing special without the main shops that sell this particular food, that originates from the Indian Paratha.  In the morning, it is a staple of the breakfast meal, and here at Thasevi Prata you can see young teenagers grabbing a snack on their way to school, middle-aged men eating before they head to work, and even seniors who have plenty of time on their hands to enjoy a relaxed morning.  Parking is limited to the stalls along the same street, or to a pay parking lot just up the road.  For me on this day, it was a stopover for a quick bite, on the way to wake boarding in the Straits of Johor.

The setup is very simple.  You go inside, place your order, give them your table number that is painted on your table, and wait to have it delivered to your table.  Many of the tables have used cigarette cans, so beware of that if you are adverse to smoke while eating and pick a table more near the centre of the area.  As well, don’t expect much for service, as the folks inside are quite busy and generally not a cheery bunch.  They have a tendency to make mistakes with orders (as they did again on this day) and they’re not so speedy with rectifying problems.  Try not to raise a big stink, as they’ve been known to respond aggressively.

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House of Dosas – Vancouver, BC

House of Dosas
1391 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC
Tel: (604) 875 1283

I must openly admit something before I begin. Two separate trips that I’ve taken to the amazing country of India in the past fifteen months has ruined me for good when it comes to Indian cuisine served in North America.  It’s not to say that its not good here at times, its just that the overwhelming eating experiences I had in the Motherland were simply unforgettable and gave me a deeper appreciation of the food of that diverse country – although I am still nowhere close to being called an expert.  To top it off, India was always one of the countries I’ve long wished to see for myself, and I think the awe and shock of that total immersion just filled me with positive (and perhaps unrealistic by Canadian standards) impressions and memories that will forever affect the way I look at Indian food.

The House of Dosas is located in an easily recognizable space, in a one-story building on the corner of Kingsway and Knight Street.  With large inviting windows with minimal coverings, you can’t help but notice it when driving by, especially when stopped at the lights of that intersection.  A friend of mine had mentioned that she had seen it and said we must make a visit one day, and as luck would have it, a group of us were up for an impromptu weekday dinner gathering.  I was just hoping the dosas would be as great as the ones I had for my daily breakfast this past spring in Trivandrum, located on the southern tip of India.

Immediately upon entering, things got a little confusing as a pair of young men were standing by the front bar, dressed in regular t-shirts and jeans.  I wasn’t exactly sure if they were just customers waiting for some service or if they were the service – which was made all the more difficult as they seemed to be engrossed in the cricket match playing on one of the hanging LCD screens.  After an awkward pause or two, and an attempt to understand the situation through simple eye contact with one of them, we were put at ease as he identified himself as someone who could seat us for our table of four.  Overall, the space is quite open, and feels like it could be home to your regular run-of-the-mill neighborhood pub, with its bar, ample square tables and a fore mentioned television screens.

We decided to share a few items, of various spice levels, to allow us each to get sample of the offerings here.  The Lamb Curry (Korma) was ordered, medium on the heat meter.  This came with a heaping of steamed rice, a slice of hot naan bread, a yogurt dipping sauce and several thin wafer pappadums.  Now I know many people have their own sensitivity levels to spicy food, I’d say I’m more of the middle-of-the-road when it comes to how much I can handle.  For me, I could feel the heat in the curry, and needed some breaks of water and yogurt in between bites to cool things down, but on the taste side of things it was rich and creamy smooth.  Ample pieces of tender lamb (with none of its gamey-ness retained) were submerged in the mixture, with each of us getting enough of the meat in our individual spoonfuls.

Seafood Dosa was a popular variety I had in Kerala.  Probably due to its close proximity to the sea.  I was pleasantly surprised to see it on the menu here.  The way it was presented in its long cylinder shape, drew looks from everyone in the room, no doubt many of them anxiously awaiting theirs to be delivered.  Once cut up into segments, you could get a better sense of the filling (or lack there of).  We cut ours up into four even sections, but in actuality only the middle two had any internal substance.  This was somewhat disappointing, as we had to spread some of the korma to prevent the rice/lentil crêpe from going to waste.  Frankly, I wasn’t so overwhelmed with this dish in terms of the flavor.   Lastly, I loved how this was served on a flat green plate, remincent of the large plantain leaves that some food is served on in Southern India.

Beef Curry with mild spice was another dish we tried (and that I managed to capture an image of), and it was clear there was a dramatic dropoff in heat between the medium and the mild.  The beef seemed a lot more ordinary to me compared to the lamb – I think it was both the spiciness as well as the type of protein itself.

All around us was an interesting mix of diners.  Upon seeing some Indian families at the tables, with the older women attired in those beautiful saris, I got the sense that the House of Dosas has the seal of approval from the local Indo-Canadian community.  I found it interesting though, that most of them were not going for the dosas.  A younger Indian couple dragging in large luggage bags with airline tags still on the handles were sitting next to us and devouring some plates of curry.  I got the sense they were craving some Indian food having been on a plane all day.

If I were to make a repeat visit, I’d probably give another dosa variant a try, but likely in the end return for another bowl of the delicious korma.  Or better yet, hold out for another trip to India itself.

House of Dosa on Urbanspoon

University Village [Leona Mediterranean | Curry Point | Donair Town] – Vancouver, BC

To recognize the return of university students to the campus at UBC this week, I thought I’d take a quick look at some of the eating options for these youth at the University Village, as they begin or continue their journey in nourishing their minds through academia…

First off, Leona Mediterranean.  Here they serve mainly curries and simple wraps, as well as some platted offerings.  I ordered the special of the day, a chicken leg stewed in a tomato-base, served with a side of cooked vegetables, rice and choice of one salad (I chose the Greek).  The chicken had been marinated okay, and the sauce had both a sweet and sour flavor, not surprising since it was coming from tomatoes.  The rice, a long grain, was a little dry which made me wish more of the sauce that chicken was stewed in had been provided.  The carrot, green bean, potato mixture was decent, with flavor properties like the chicken.  The salad was fresh, nice crisp cucumber and green peppers.  All in all, an adequate and filling meal, which felt healthy.

Next, the Curry Point.  Its located in the far end of the hall, so difficult to spot when you come down the stairs.  It’s part of a chain comprised of three outlets in BC.  The others being in North Vancouver and one on the Island in Nanaimo.  Here you can choose from various curries, getting as little or as much variety as you wish.  The non-veg curries included some Murg Makhani (aka Butter Chicken), the veg ones had among others, Chana Masala.  I elected a non-veg and a veg to complete my pairing, that came with some rice as well as a piece of naan (which was too soggy).  The Gosht Masala (beef curry) had boneless beef, all in the garlicy, tomato paste gravy – but lacking any spicy heat.  The daal (lentil curry) suffered from the heating pan system, as they were breaking down much more than they should, and at the end tasted really chalky.  Again, not much spice at all in the flavoring here, probably “dumbed down” for the local crowd.  I’d pass on this joint, even if it is fast food Indian.

Curry Point (UBC) on Urbanspoon

Finally, Donair Town.  The surprise of the lot, as I was pleased with the tasty package I received, a pita filled shawarma, and I chose a mixture of beef and chicken (both soft and crispier bits).  Stuffed with some fresh lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, and generous dollops of Tzatziki and garlic paste.  The regular size ($5.99) was my order and it turned out to be a fully stuffed package, not sure if I could have eaten the super size offering.

I liked how they wrapped it all up tightly, completely enclosed so nothing could slip out until the moment it was consumed.  Less of a mess, and was appreciated as I took it back to my car.  I could see a few kids carrying this out on my way down to the food court here, so know its a popular choice.

So there you have it, a trio of samplings for the back to school crowd.  Back in my days of school, they had nothing like these ethnic offerings, so am quiet envious about the choice today’s students have in their basic on-campus food zones.

University Village [Leona Mediterranean | Curry Point | Donair Town]
B1, 5728 University Boulevard
Vancouver, BC

Donair Town on Urbanspoon