If you're a commuter who passes Maradana, the Dhawalagiri Hotel is something you absolutely cannot miss (well, you can, but then you'd be missing Maradana).
'Hotel' is a fancy name for this establishment, but then again, almost all our saivar kadeys have grandiose names. It's either 'palace', 'villa', 'hotel' or something like that. Anyways, moving on...
Dhawalagiri is smack dab in the middle of Maradana, just a short distance from the junction and almost right opposite Zahira College. Given that Maradana is one of the most populous and crowded areas of Colombo, and that there are at least five schools in the vicinity, the Dhawalagiri Hotel is almost always full. You will find a plethora of people here, ranging from families and couples to harried individuals seated at water-sloshed tables, gulping down their food, and then hurrying back out into the big, bad world.
Serving quintessential South Indian staples like thosais and vadais, Dhawalagiri doesn't disappoint. They also serve the regular fried rice and idiappa, but we went for a spread of thosais and two types of vadais.
The place was packed when we got there, but crowds in these places move really fast so we didn't have to wait long before a table emptied itself. Okay so, it didn't exactly empty itself... Sandesh and I shared it with a suspicious looking bag left there by its previous tenant (who came and claimed it like 15 minutes later). We were barely seated before a waitress came over and asked us what we wanted, and our orders ('one of everything you have for each of us, please') came by within two minutes.
We went there for a late lunch at around 2:30 PM, and most of the food had been wiped out by then. Ergo, 'one of everything' at that time were leek vadais, ulundu vadais, plain thosai, masala thosai, paper thosais and string hoppers (which we didn't really try out).
However, the first thing to arrive were the sambars and the chutney, which were brought in huge aluminium buckets and spooned generously on to our aluminium platters. The saivar doughnuts AKA ulundu vadai and leek vadai arrived a few minutes later.
We found the leek vadai (foreground in the photo above) to be a tad too dry and heavy, and didn't find it all that palatable. The texture was interesting though. It seemed to be made out of a different dough as opposed to the fluffy dough used for ulundu vadais. In addition to being a dark, murky brown, it also had a tinge of green in it, which made its appearance intriguing to look at.
However, neither Sandesh nor I were blown away by this, especially after we dug into the ulundu vadai (background in the photo above). Those beauties were piping hot, fluffy, and crispy, and disappeared within minutes.
We enjoyed the masala thosai a lot as it had the perfect crisp-yet-soft texture, and the masala had a nice flavour to it as well. It was generously peppered, but it wasn't overpowering and enhanced the overall flavour.
The paper thosai and the regular thosais were not remarkable — we found the regular thosai to be a teensy bit rubbery and stale.
Sandesh also tried out their tea, which was 'milky with a unique taste'. He liked it though, so their tea gets a pass.
This is a saivar in Maradana. To most people, that's self-explanatory, but if you're new to the place, let me elaborate. This isn't the calmest or nicest place in town. Not even close. There's a very slap-dash atmosphere, the tables are hastily wiped with a damp cloth (if they're wiped at all), so it's in a perpetual state of watery-ness.
Service is friendly, helpful and hasty at the same time, so it's best that you know what you want to order without spending time pondering over it. The floors are littered and probably only see a broom at the end of the day, but other than that, it doesn't look too appalling.
This isn't the cleanest area in the hood, but that's obviously only to be expected. The food is filling, but the prices are a mystery because there are no menus to be seen. They give you a total at the end of your meal, and soon as you pay up, they take away the piece of paper the bill was written on as well.
Our bill for all of this came up to Rs. 450, including two Milo packets and the tea, so we think that's really, really good. If you want a quick, filling, and cheap meal while you're around Maradana, hit the Dhawalagiri Hotel up — it's totally worth it.
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