Chai N Dosa, sit-down style

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Chai N Dosa, 310 Ballarat Road, Braybrook. Phone: 0420 262 274

Since first writing about Chai N Dosa more than a year ago, it has become a mainstay for us.

We found it especially useful during those long lockdown months, wherein we joined the many fans of the place for takeaway goodies that were always enjoyed, picnic style, in nearby Cranwell Park.

Mostly we’ve been OK with the wait times.

But there have been times when shuffling around the used car lot with other customers has been a bit of a drag.

And there have been, too, times when we’re read the signs of bulk customers and an eating service barely coping so we’ve split for elsewhere.

So we are delighted, upon fronting up for a Saturday lunch, that Chai N Dosa has become a restaurant proper.

The long-observed building activity has produced a real neat dining house.

Heavy on wood, it has a lovely airy and rather rustic feel about it.

It has, mind you, a perfectly fine fast-food vibe going on.

And there seems no doubt that takeaways and deliveries will continue to be the outfit’s mainstay.

But we are VERY happy to be seated and sheltered.

The kitchen is WAY bigger than that in the pokey caravan/truck that preceded this bricks and water (joke for a former colleague) version of the business. This is no doubt a boon for the hard-working staff.

And while polystyrene containers continue to be headed out the door, eat-in service is done utilising cardboard.

Chai N Dosa, it seems, will remain a lunch destination for us.

So that means we miss out on the specials we see on Facebook such as fry piece chicken with pulao.

So I am delighted to opt for a special posted on the menu board – poori with aloo curry ($11.99).

Pooris? Could well be my favourite kind of deep-fried dough!

I devour my three with glee.

The aloo curry is not what I’m expecting at all – but it is very good.

The fine spuddy sludge is dotted with corn and cashews!

Bennie opts, as on so many other occasions, for the standard masala dosa ($10.99).

It maintains the high standard we have come to expect from Chai N Dosa.


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Vanakkam, 359 Barkly St, Footscray. Phone: 9687 7224

Ordering a feed for two at an Indian restaurant is a breeze, right?

Couple of snacks – samosas, pakoras, whatever – couple of curries, rice, some naan?

Well, no.

It isn’t that straightforward at all these days – especially not at a place like the relocated Vanakkam in Barkly St, with curries AND dosas AND a goodly line-up of Indo-Chinese dishes.

We muddle along and have a great time even if our choices are a little on the stodge side.

But they’re all good or better – and two are very excellent indeed.

And, naturally, we order WAY too much food – but happily, the final dish that arrives is the one most suitable for doggy-bagging and making do for Bennie’s school lunch the next day.

We’ve taken our time getting to the new Vanakkam – seems like there’s been a lot of Indian action to keep up to date with lately.

But we leave as extremely happy – and bulging full – chappies.

The service is fine and our food arrives far more quickly than such freshly made dishes might suggest.

We are not really thinking about our visits to the old Vanakkam as we nut out our order, but we sigh with memory-fuelled pleasure as our plate of onion baji ($7) arrives.

Of course we remember them – they’re so very good!

In this case, the serve is even bigger, but the onion rings are just as delicious.

The batter is not crispy, but is admirably unoily and scrumptious.

Our lamb dosa (&10) is good, too.

Crispy pancake and the usual slurp-worthy sambar, chutneys and potato filling, the latter a little more gooey than is usually the case.

The lamb is quite plentiful and seems to be mostly in the form of smallish, unspicy chunks that could’ve been carved straight from a roast leg.

Maybe they are.

It’s all well and good, but it makes us – OK, me – wonder why we ever variate from the tried-and-true spud-filled masala dosa.

Kaju uthappam ($12) is our standout dish.

The base of this “Indian pizza”, which comes with the same side dishes as our dosa, is made from rice and black lentil flours, and is a little crunchy, very delicate and utterly moreish.

The topping is of cashews nuts that have become soft in the cooking, coriander and what are described to us as “poori” spices.

So simple and so magnificent.

Our dinner adventure had been embarked upon with Bennie expressing a wish for noodles.

There are none to be had on the Vanakkam menu – the closest we can get is their take on nasi goreng ($13), which unsurprisingly has little or nothing to do with the south-east Asian dish of the same name.

Being more of a glorified fried rice, it’s still mighty fine, with a fried egg atop, and plenty of cubed, crunchy vegetables and battered chicken bits.

It has the same sort of peppery spiciness that comes with the fabulous schezwan chicken fried rice to be had at Dosa Hut up the road.

We’re stonkered before we get even close to halfway through this large serve, so the rest goes home with us.

Vanakkam is a very welcome addition to the intense and oh-so-welcome Indian activity in West Footscray, and we’ve only scratched the menu’s surface.

And BTW, the biryanis other customers have been eating look really great.

Vanakkam on Urbanspoon

Salaam Namaste Dosa Hut


Salaam Namaste Dosa Hut, 604 Barkly St, West Footscray. Phone: 9687 0171

Does a restaurant have any sort of obligation to tell customers what is in their food?

The food for which they are paying and which they are eating?

My persistent inquiries about the seasoning specifics of my rice meal at Dosa Hut are met with smiles, giggles, shrugs and vague mutterings.

It’s all good fun and I’m not even close to chagrined that I fail in my quest.

Bemused, maybe.

But maybe, too, some things are meant to remain unknown.

Dosa Hut should be celebrated widely in the west for being the first eatery to bring dosas and associated goodies into our part of the world.

That seems a long time ago now.

That first incarnation had a dingy shack aspect with a service vibe to match.

A second incarnation – detailed here – took a significant step towards a more formal and professional approach.

Now Dosa Hut has its third incarnation – and it’s another cool step upwards.

There’s branded windows, chic interior decor, a lot more room.

As far as I can tell, the menu remains much the same – though I suspect the range of dishes available of the Indo-Chinese variety has grown.

My simple, plain samosa ($1.95)  is beaut – mildly seasoned, beautifully tender potato, ungreasy pastry exterior.

From the Indo-Chinese list I choose “Schezwan Chicken Fried Rice” ($12.95). 

You might be thinking that’s quite a hefty amount to pay for a glorified Indian take on a familiar Chinese staple in a cheap eats diner.

You would be wrong.

This is a killer dish; a sensation.

Heaps of fluffy rice is riddled with chewy fried chicken chunks, omelette, peas and finely diced green onion and carrot.

It’s all quite dry and very un-oily, though like just about everything in the Indo-Chinese recipe book, it’ll never pass for health food.

The first few mouthfuls indicate spice levels of a benign nature.

That, too, is misleading. This dish has a magnificent slow-burn spiciness that glows yet never really reaches high-intensity levels.

Given the staff’s reluctance to clarify my seasoning queries, I’m only guessing. 

The orange colouring from a mix of turmeric and chilli powder?

The magnificent slow-burn heat from a LOT of white pepper?

It matters not – I love every mouthful.

It’s a big serve, one that should really be shared.

But I go closer to finishing it than I thought I would.

Salaam Namaste Dosa Hut on Urbanspoon

Dosa Hut


604 Barkly St, West Footscray. Phone: 9687 0171

Dosa Hut, as far as I’m aware, was the first to bring dosas and the like to our part of the world – and for that I’ll be forever grateful.

For the past year or so, it fell out of favour with us, and by then there were other places to get our dosa fix – most notably,  Vanakkam India.

The reasons we moved on from Dosa Hut were simple – in its earlier days the place had a makeshift ambiance that made us feel a little ill at ease. It was a bit like we felt we were sitting amid hurried preparations for an eatery that was soon to open – rather than enjoying one that was already up and running.

As well, the service had a sort of distracted air about it.

Following a Thursday night foray, I’m very happy to report that Dosa Hut has changed – for the better.

The place has had a low-key fit-out that makes it seem much more welcoming. There’s an extended menu that takes in not just dosas, idlys, vadas and biryani of various stripes, but also noodles, uttapam, omelettes, a range of snacks and even a modest list of Indo-Chinese dishes.

There’s even a display cabinet to one side of the servery filled with fine-looking Indian sweets.

As well, the service could not be more efficient or smiling. I wasn’t counting, but I reckon I received my dosa about five minutes after ordering.

Here and elsewhere I have experimented with various dosa types – variations including onion, cheese, egg, chick, lamb and so on.

But for me, and countless others no doubt, masala dosa is the king.

My Dosa Hut masala dosa ($7.50) was beaut.

Every element of it was fine – crispy pancake, potato stuffing laced with mustard seeds and curry leaves, sambar and two chutneys, one that seemed to be tomato/chilli-based and the other of creamy coconut.

A warning though: All three accompaniments had a degree of chilli hit about them, even the usually cooling coconut number. Nothing to worry most anyone used to eating out in the west, but their combined heat might be a little too incendiary for kids.

It’s real nice knowing Dosa Hut has become a place we’ll be returning to again.

In the meantime, things are changing in Barkly Village.

Opposite Dosa Hut, what used to be an old-style pizza/pasta joint is now a swish new thin-crust genuine Italian pizza place called Gusto On Barkly that is Very High on our “to do” list.

And a bit further down the road towards Footscray proper, what was once half a video rental establishment is soon to become another dosa/biryani outfit!

Oh happy day!

Salaam Namaste Dosa Hut on Urbanspoon