It’s easy to forget sometimes, when reviewing a restaurant, that they are run by people. Hard working people who dedicate a lot of their time and energy into their business, especially in a place like Vancouver where the rent is often ridiculous. I was reminded of that fact after my recent visit to House of Dosas. Let me explain…
I’ll begin by saying that I LOVE Indian food. For a while in highschool, it was actually my hands-down favourite cuisine (I don’t really have a favourite these days, unless you can count “chocolate cake” as a cuisine). Unfortunately, I don’t get to eat Indian food often since my parents are on the opposite side of the spectrum in that they HATE Indian food and cannot stand it (I used to give them a hard time about this, but hey, we all have our tastes. I don’t like seafood or sushi, so who am I to judge?). Anyways, I was really craving Indian food this week, and House of Dosas seemed like a good option. I visited them on Monday (during the Family Day long weekend), which was when they have a special where all of their dosas were only $5.99 (their regular price is >$10). I ordered their Meat & Mixed Vegetable Dosa (with chicken) and their Cheese Garlic Uthappam. Unfortunately, in addition to being very busy, there was apparently some issues going on in the kitchen and the food took an entire hour to arrive. Needless to say, I was seriously pissed. So when I got home, I went right to my computer and wrote an angry review on both Yelp and Zomato bashing the restaurant and giving them 1 stars.
The next day, I received a message from the owner on Yelp. I admit, I was seriously embarassed and was actually afraid to read it. The owner was really gracious however, apologizing for the long wait that I’ve had to endure and inviting me to come back to their restaurant again, with a gift card so that my next meal would be complimentary. I was feelig quite guilty for bashing their business, and (let’s be honest) I can never resist the incentive of free food, so I decided to revisit them again for lunch on Wednesday. The place was much less busy when I arrived, and I was greeted by a very friendly gentleman at the front. Since I’ve already had their famous dosas during my previous visit, I wanted to try something else off of their menu. Although my go-to dish at Indian restaurants is, of course, Butter Chicken, I was feeling more adventurous, and got their Chicken Biryani. This time the food arrived at a very reasonable 15 minutes.
Chicken Biryani ($13.99):
This is the first time that I’ve actually had biryani before, and I’ve got to say, if all restaurants had biryani like this, then I really should order this dish more often. I really liked the basmati rice, which was a bit firmer and had more texture than the type of rice that I’m accustomed to. It was filled with various herbs and spices, and was very flavourful and fragrant. There was a generous amount of juicy, boneless chicken (I’m delighted by the fact that they use dark meat) that was well-seasoned and very flavourful, and also a small whole egg. Now, you get to choose the spice level for your dish. I initially requested the dish to be as spicy as possible, but chickened out (no pun intended) and asked for the 2nd highest level of spice instead. I had seriously dodged a bullet: the dish at the 2nd highest level of spice was already seriously HOT. In most restaurants when I ask for my food to be spicy, I usually get something that’s just mildly tingly; here, I was actually tearing up and had to drink a lot of water and also use the raitha that they served the dish with to numb the pain (I wouldn’t have been able to handle the highest level). They seriously don’t pull any punches here, and I’m impressed.
From my aforementioned visit on Monday:
Meat & Mixed Vegetables Dosa (Chicken, $5.99 on Mondays):
This consisted of a long, thin crepe enclosing a filling of potatoes, peas, carrots (and some other vegetables) and chicken, and was served with three separate chutneys. The crepe was soft, slightly chewy, and quite tasty on its own when dipped into chutney (my favourite is the red one). There was a generous amount of filling, which was also very tasty: the food was well seasoned, with a slight bit of heat, and the pieces of chicken were very tender and moist.
Cheese Garlic Uthappam ($5.99 on Mondays):
This is an Indian-style pizza that’s topped with garlic and cheese. Unlike Western pizzas, the crust was more fluffy and tender than doughy. I was quite surprised by the amount of garlic that was present; there were large pieces covering the entire top of the pizza, and the flavour did become a bit overpowering. I would have preferred more cheese (you can never have enough cheese) and a bit less garlic.
When it came time to pay for the bill, I actually did not redeem my gift card. Why? Well, I’d like to say that it was because I felt guilty for writing such a harsh review. I’d like to say that it was because I was worried that the fact I received my meal for free would bias my review of the place. But the truth is this: I happened to overhear the gentleman at the front and a few patrons and realized that he is the actual owner of the restaurant, meaning that if I were to try to redeem my gift card, I’d expose myself as the great, gaping a-hole (sorry if I’m being graphic) who bashed his restaurant. NOPE. NO WAY. UH UH. So I paid instead. Even without the gift card, the price was fairly reasonable anyways (and I did want to support the business). The food was solid, and the staff were friendly and attentive. What really stood out to me however is the owner’s graciousness and the dedication that he showed to the customers. I would highly recommend this place to anyone looking for good Indian food, especially if you enjoy heat.