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Udupi Palace (Closed)
15600 N.E. 8th St.
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Hours: Open Daily
Tea: Masala Tea
Smoking: No Smoking
Best Item: Thali (Sampler Plate)
Health Dept. Report
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At most other Indian restaurants I have had to search for dishes I like through trial and error, and maybe
encounter something I thought was pretty good. At Udupi Palace, however, I was blown away by the
food, the prices, and the selection.
First of all, tables are hard to come by. I have gone late, just before closing, and there were maybe one or two tables available. I suspect this is pretty typical of Seattle area restaurants. Udupi Palace might be more popular than other places, though, because it is so affordable.
A great way to sample the food is to order Thali, the sampler plate, with about ten items including appetizers and dessert. Most other Indian restaurants seem to think Indian food is a precious commodity, eking out miniscule portions that to me barely qualify as a "dinner," or you can go at lunch for the typical buffet that features food that has been sitting out for extended periods of time and barely has the spice level of a Mexican restaurant in the Midwest (possibly of note, though, is the fact that several Udupi Palace restaurants have opened in the Midwest and have become quite popular). Thali at Udupi Palace not only has excellent food that is extremely satisfying, it contains items that would be rarely found in the typical Indian restaurant in the U.S. The items on Thali ranged from barely spicy to a couple of things that would rival the green chile in New Mexico. Served in small metal bowls, none of the items were very big, but the whole plate was almost more than I could eat.
I have found that Thali does not usually contain many of my favorite items, such as Chana Masala and Vegetable Korma. The fact that it was so good, though, indicated that some of the other dishes might be even better. Still, Thali is worthwhile because it comes with soup, dessert, and appetizers.
Perhaps because Udupi Palace is also a vegetarian restaurant, they are able to keep the prices down compared to most Indian places. My biggest gripe with many restaurants is that they do not serve any truly outstanding vegetarian dishes. At Udupi, however, even meat lovers do not seem to complain about the flavor of the food or that food comes in insufficient quantities. Perhaps the fact that cheese and milk products are used liberally makes it seem more like a "regular" restaurant (I would argue that truly good vegetarian food is so difficult to find and so delightful when done properly that these restaurants should be sought out over ones that serve similar quality meat dishes).
Based on my sampling of the food there is little point in trying to pick out the restaurant's best dishes. Thali changes all the time, and customers will not even be aware of the names of the dishes unless they ask or are familiar with Indian food. I have tried some dishes I did not like, but many more that seemed flavorful and healthy.
Some readers may be aware that Udupi Palace is a chain out of the Bay Area. The menu I can pull up from a San Francisco area restaurant is the same as the one in Bellevue. Every indication is given, though, that the one in the Seattle suburb has a lot of control over its own operation and maintains food quality as if it were a stand-alone restaurant. During 2006 either the corporation or the local restaurant decided to open a smaller version called Dosa Palace in Issaquah, then closed it after a short time. I have heard that another Dosa Palace will be opening in Seattle. In any case, I am convinced there is a high demand for the food here that so far has been somewhat thwarted by having to drive to Bellevue and then facing the possibility of having to wait for a table upon arriving. The Dosa Palace branches may help alleviate this problem.
One possible warning I might give is that the service seems a little erratic. One waiter takes the order while another brings the drinks, and another brings the food, etc. This is not a fine dining restaurant as is common with many Indian restaurants throughout the country. This is actually what I really like about the restaurant, though. There is no reason for so many restaurants to put Indian food out of the price range of everyday eating.
The reasonable prices also make it possible to experiment with different menu items. Some people have their favorite dishes at Udupi Palace, but I am not yet at that point.
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