Strong dosa

Strong dosa
A waiter performs an impressive balancing act; Vidyarthi Bhavan, Photo Credit: Srikanth Kolari

Seek out Vidyarthi Bhavan for the best dosas in Bangalore

Ananya Bhattacharya
July 18 , 2014
04 Min Read

“We’ve never been tempted to change this routine or the menu,” says Arun Kumar, 35, the son of the proprietor Ramakrishna Adiga who took over the management of the eatery in 1970 when he bought it over from its previous owners from the Kundapur-Udupi coastal belt who started it in 1943.

Vidyarthi Bhavan got its name from the fact that it was a popular eating place for students from nearby colleges such as National College and B.M.S. College. They were the restaurant’s first patrons before its masala dosa gained legendary status and started drawing the family crowd too — Sunday breakfasts here are a tradition in many families in the area.


It doesn’t take long to decide what to order off the menu; in fact, the menu doesn’t exist. Pinned to the wall is a table with the items and prices on it. Only about half a dozen items, with no surprises. Masala dosa, plain dosa, idli, rava idli, khara bhaat (upma, as it is known elsewhere), kesari bhaat, tea/coffee. The hot masala dosa — surprisingly small, one had expected a large, crisp dosa poking out of its plate — arrives at my table, carried by the waiter expertly holding more than ten similar plates stacked together. How do you do it, I ask the pleasant young man serving me. Practice, he smiles.

The dosa gives off a buttery aroma, served with a dollop of thick coconut chutney on the plate. The customary bowl of sambar is missing, and when you ask the waiter for some, he looks amused but ready enough to grant your upstart-ish wish. Vidyarthi Bhavan, I learn later, is famous for not serving sambar with the dosa but only with idlis and vadas. Not a loss, really, as far as I can make out. The sambar is brilliantly red and slightly sweet, i.e., regular ‘darshini’ standard — the ubiquitous fast-food eateries that dot Bangalore. The dosas, of course, live up to the hype, with their light, flavourful potato stuffing that no darshini can manage.

The waiters know most customers by their faces, and sometimes even by their names — the walls of the eatery are lined with pencil sketches of luminaries from Karnataka and include Kuvempu, U.R. Ananthamurthy, Girish Karnad and Bhimsen Joshi. Rajnikanth reportedly has a parcel picked up whenever he is in town.

As I leave after the customary cup of no-frills filter coffee, I get talking with Tejaswini Awadhani and Vijay, young and enthusiastic theatre artists who swear by Vidyarthi Bhavan. Why do you keep coming back, I ask. Practice, they say.


The information

Where:No. 32, Gandhi Bazaar Road, Basavanagudi, Bangalore (080-26677588).

Timings: Weekdays, 6.30am-11am, 2pm-8pm; Sundays and holidays, 6.30am-12pm, 2.30pm-8pm; Friday closed.


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