This latest branch of a chain with branches in Manor Park, Croydon, East Ham and Wembley follows the same formula of a simple, brightly lit and clean interior, nutty Indian muzak and lashings of South Indian food at rock-bottom prices – just like you’d find in snack bars in Chennai (formerly called Madras, the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu).
The menu’s lengthy, covering the expected breakfast dishes (idlis, dosas) and fried lentil snacks (vadai), but unlike a couple of the previous branches, has an unusually extensive list of non-vegetarian dishes, from fiery chicken Chettinad curry, through dry mutton dishes to whole fried pomfret.
There are also a few Sri Lankan dishes, such as mutton kothu parotta (chopped flatbread fried with mutton and hot spices). And Tooting being an increasingly Muslim neighbourhood, the meat is halal.
Many dishes are served thali-style, in stainless steel trays with recessed compartments to contain the sauces.
We relished our sambar – a slightly tart soup of lentils, the traditional accompaniment to many South Indian dishes, including dosas (thin pancakes).
Novelty dosas abound, such as the ‘five-foot family dosa’ – wide enough to cover a table.
Well-made dosas should be crisp and thin and the batter even. Our rawa dosa and masala dosa were a little uneven, not nearly as good as the peerless versions served up at, say, Saraswathy Bhavan or Dosa n Chutny down the road at Tooting Broadway – but at around £2.50 each, who’s complaining?
Also, the filling of the masala dosa was nearly all potato, coloured red, and we’d have liked to have seen more onions and greater variety of spice in the filling.
But the lassis were excellent: a rich mango, and a pleasingly thick and sour plain lassi accented with cumin. Take note that no alcohol is served, or permitted.