Vidyarthi Bhavan’s Sagu-Masale Dose

December 16, 2006

Like any other day, I get up early and leave for office after the usual morning duties. This is after I have given my son a quick bath, who is up earlier than his usual time today. Normally, he gets up after I reach office.

It’s literally cool to ride the bike in December. The street dogs, donkeys and cattles are busy hunting for some ‘fresh’ breakfast. Milkman and paper vendors are returning back after delivering the ‘starters’ for most families.

Riding, seeing all the busy activities in the morning, is fun. I have already reached Gandhi Bazaar and remember that I need to stop at Vidyarthi Bhavan because as per last week’s plan, myself and Vijay are to have breakfast here. He has been tempting me since a long time saying I need to eat the out-of-the-world ‘Sagu-Masale’ at Vidyarthi Bhavan. The place is full but we manage to get a table. As we settle down, I see the typical Vidyarthi Bhavan waiter bringing more than ten plates of Dose, one over the other, holding them with one arm stretched, just like a salesgirl shows a saree in ‘Saree House’.

For those who are not yet initiated to Vidyarthi Bhavan, this is one of the old charms of Bangalore. Tucked away in an old building amid the burgeoning commercial complexes on Gandhi Bazaar main road, this eat out could well be termed as Bangalore city’s earliest ‘Dose camp’. Founded in 1938, ‘Vidyarthi Bhavan’ means ‘Student’s eatery’, and was one of the best hotels and most affordable for students in those early years. That fact has fortunately not changed until today! Starting from a measly 10 paise in the good old days nearly 70 years ago, a ‘Dose’ today costs just Rs 15. A hot pipping ‘Masale Dose’ straight from the ‘Kaavli’ (utensil used for making Dose) with melting butter on it is the specialty of the Vidyarthi Bhavan. It has generated so much of interest and enthusiasm that film director Mahesh Bhatt has aired a two-minute documentary about this tunnel-shaped hotel on BBC!! It is a tiny restaurant almost lost in the bylanes of Gandhi Bazaar, but to find it one got to simply ask any passerby where “Vidyarthi Bhavan” is?! and chances are that the passerby may not only tell you the exact directions but may also join you for one of the best Doses in town.

We place our order and appreciate the pencil sketches of popular Kannadigas that adore the walls of Vidyarthi Bhavan. I can see Kuvempu, Masti, Aa.Na.Kru., Kailasam, U.R. Ananthmurthy, Karnad, Kambara and other literary and theatre giants who have made Kannadigas proud.

To begin with, we have an Idli. Vidyarthi Bhavan doesn’t give Chutney to go with it. Instead the Idli is drowned in hot Sambhar. The smell is unlike the Darshinis’ that add an extra tinge of garlic.

As we have the last bite of Idli, the much awaited Sagu-Masale appears in front of us. Vijay tells me to check whether it is ‘Sagu-Masale’! So I open the Dose just a little (like how you open a page to see the previous page number) and make sure there is Sagu and not Palya. Unlike other hotels, Chutney isn’t provided along with Dose in Vidyarthi Bhavan. A waiter comes and pours Chutney next to the Dose. Enough for the whole Dose. (No second helping required.)

The Sagu-Masale looks tempting. The first bite suggests that ‘Sagu’ is not like the one we eat with Poori. This is more like the home made version yet different. There is no ‘Ghaat’ that we associate with a typical ‘Sagu’. It has ample amount of Coconut and vegetables. Till we finish the Dose, there is silence, which means that the food is really good!

Vijay tells me that the ideal time to visit this restaurant is before 8:30 in the morning (that was our appointed time, of course, fixed by the boss himself) when Gandhi Bazaar is still not that busy, and you can actually drive on the roads. I infact found a parking right in front of Vidyarthi Bhavan. One good thing about these simple and historic hotels is that food is tasty. They don’t have any new gimmicks and garish attractions like the ones the new hotels come up with. As I have experienced, the service is decent and the management see to it that cleanliness is maintained in the restaurant.

After we finish the Dose, a waiter hands us a tissue, which earlier would have been a piece of ‘Praja Vani’ to serve as the paper napkin. We wash the Sagu-Masale down with hot filter coffee. There is already a person waiting next to us, virtually booking his seat. We leave the place with a sense of tranquility and contentment.

There is real joy in having such breakfasts when you have good company. Vijay shared some real good trivia and anecdotes associated with the place, and about his own exploits, which I feel is a real motivational factor to eat at places like Vidyarthi Bhavan, Kenchamba Lodge, UKB, CTR and the like.

It’s almost lunch time now, but I can still smell that unique Sagu-Masale Dose from Vidyarthi Bhavan.

Timings:
Weekdays: 6.30 am to 11 am & 2 pm to 8 pm
Sundays & Govt. Holidays: 6.30 am to 12 pm & 2.30 pm to 8 pm
Friday Holiday

Address:
32 Gandhi Bazaar, Bangalore – 560004.
Tel: 080-2667 7588

Also read:
First Stop – Vidhyarthi Bhavan

24 Responses to “Vidyarthi Bhavan’s Sagu-Masale Dose”

  1. praneshachar Says:

    BELLUR
    yenri beligge beliggene sariyagi vidhyarthi bhavage legge hakiddiri boss/vijay jothege. nanu innavarege vidhyarthi bhavan visit madilla adare vidhyarthi bahavan dose taste madiddini. One colleague who retired recently used to get parcels from there to BEL for morning breakfast he had patience to pack for 15/20 peoples and bring ofcourse transport was not a problem because of BEL bus.
    you have explained everything in detail I was knowing about
    his kannada prema putting upsketches of kannada dyons of literary field.
    one more eatery added to you blog keep going from strength to strength

  2. Shruthi Says:

    Now that made me very very hungry!! :O
    Excellent writeup as usual!

  3. decemberstud Says:

    RK,

    Very nice writing….I can’t help but be a spoisport here. After the rave reviews that I heard about the place, I did manage to sneak in once. I definitely loved the dOse, but I really didn’t think that it was any ‘special’. It was good, but nowhere close to being extraordinary. Plus the fact that it was so crowded and the people waiting in line were just staring at my plate to see when I will finish, didn’t help either🙂

  4. DD Says:

    nice write up,RK..And u know.me verymuch fond of masala dosa..🙂
    And me was away from my fav blogs these days…so busy at work..’ll definitely keep in touch with ya people very soon..

    take care

  5. travel plaza Says:

    Mmmm…I can almost smell the masale dose. Excellent write up about Vidyarthi Bhavan. When we were younger, we would go there once in a while for that special dose and for the unique “paper napkins” provided. I’m amazed that after all these years, the taste has not changed as is the case with most restaurants. My nephew always says that the best masale dose is the one that leaves a lingering aroma of the dose and palya on your fingers. The longer the smell lingers, the better the dose, is his theory:)

  6. christy Says:

    Hello RK,

    Bellige bellige monday office baroode bore ree, adarllu nim masale dose bagee article noodid maele leave hake dose tinnake hoogoona anisthede. Even i have been to there four months back, while my first visit waiting for the place made me angry and irritating(indeed thought not to go again) but after having the dosa i realised waiting for that was worth. Good article bellur.

    I will go in this week end to vidyarthi bhavan.

  7. Vani Says:

    Yenu? Shifting loyalties, Mr Bellur?😉

    CTR navarige hogi heLthini iri.

    BeLigge BeLigge Sagu Masale bagge mathaadi yellargu full tempt maadthiddira….

  8. prashanth Says:

    somavaara beLigge beLigge hoTTe uristaa iddeeralla ibru serkondu…😦

    muMdina sala hogovaaga nannu kareeri – tappade barteeni

  9. Vijay Says:

    Prashanth: We should definitely go there… RK bega innondu session itkobeku..

    DS: My dad also says while VB is good some of his old Mysore places (including Gully Hotlu) were better.. for those of us who yearn for “old times”, VB is the nearest we have. Having someone staring at your food waiting for you to finish is part of the charm.., somehow I have never been able to convince my wife of that “charm”… 🙂

  10. rk Says:

    praneshachar,
    nimm colleague loka kalyanakkagi maadida kelasa thilidu santhosha aaythu sir!

    shruthi,
    thanks.

    ds,
    me too never rated VB very high till i had the sagu-masale, thanks to vijay.

    dd,
    i know u r a foodie like me and my boss! when u come down to bengaluru, we can attack some eateries, what say?😉

    tp,
    your nephew has a very good theory! i repeat, when you visit india, you really have a loonng list of hotels to visit this time! enjoy maadi!

    christy,
    khanditha hogbittu banni. glad u liked the article.

    vani,
    loyalty yenu shift aagilla. ninne maneyorella CTR dose gadatthagi hodedvi.

    prashanth,
    surely, we can visit sometime soon!

    vijay,
    neev helidmele, bega ittkollalebeku. let’s plan soon.


  11. Did Diya see this post.. tindi post andre nange ashtak ashte, so skimmed through the post & comments.
    maja maadi. Mylaari dose mysore ge jai.

    Hey Regular dose makers at home, monne mysore ge hogiddaaga namma amma dose maadikottidru, nanna mane dose ginta soft aagittu , so checked with her & she said dosege akki, uddinabele nene aakuvaaga swalpa avalakki haaku antha heLidru. One morsel of Avalakki can make so much difference ! Wow.. avalakki andren sumne na, sudhaama krisha ivrigella ishTa…!

    okay, MTR, CTR, Vidhyaarthi bhavan.. ella kade hogteeni omme. namma yejamaanru hotel hogoNa andre. dina horag tind bejaar manele adige maadu anthaare🙂 so Vijay hotel ge hogok munche Dose mugidu hogiratte, rush iratte, ivattu sunday raja anthella madam ge ‘baai haakalla taane’ ?


  12. yen nimma maneli adige maadalva.. yaavag nodidru, CTR, MTR, vidhyaarthi bhavan, dwarka bhavan anthaane irtheeralla ? tingluge atleast ond 10 ooTa horga ? Family jothe ? shiva shanakara…

  13. Vijay Says:

    Veena: Yenri.. yavottho horage thindre hingella baitheera🙂 … Its been 3 months between Dwaraka and VB…

    Naanu bai hakodhe beda… namma madamu VB ‘ge barolla…

  14. decemberstud Says:

    @ Vijay :
    LOL…smart wife there🙂 I won’t ‘compare’ VB to other places, but as your dad said, VB dasesa re good, but nothin out of this world….;)

    @ Veena :
    Mylari dOse…yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss !!!


  15. Oh.. nimma wife ge aathara consiousness idiyalla olledu illa andre maatattidre olle VB & Hotlu antha hogtidrenu. Even I never go to hotel which will demand for standing & eating(typical darshini’s) & also same with that starring & waiting indirectly ‘demanding’ to empty the place ASAP! HA …
    3 months Dwarka & VB aadre adara madhya est kaDe hogilla neevu ? Weekend andre horge tinnalva ? Nuclear family andre ide kathe, maneli heLovr keLovr illa andre haage.. nammaneli hotel ge ondu tinglu ond sala adrallu namma atte maavange nice hodedu karkond hogbeku.. illa andre manel adige maadi ittu amele hogbeku, ayyo shiva eraDu kelsa antha.. manele ellargu adige maadodu ashTe.. bill duddu uliyutte antha namma yejamaanru sai anthaare ashTe. gottilva nimma gaMdasra buddi namage ?

    DS, Mylaari dose treat mysore ge bandaaga ? Dutch ella illa ri, naane bill kodteeni biDi.. yaar yaar beku ella barbahudu🙂
    Sombody avare, illa E-presence idre nimage loss-u

  16. Ram Says:

    Sriman Bellur avare,

    Nimma vivarane keli, nanna bayalli neeruruthide. Naanu, Mysorenalli, Iyer set dose hagu mylari hotelna dose and krishna bhavana’s iyer pakoda (unfortunately iyer hotel and krishna bhavana have been closed down) tindonu. thanks for the information. Nange ee hotelina bagge gothiralilla.

  17. rk Says:

    ram,
    VB and CTR visit maadi. i am a great fan of MYLAARI DOSE. yen soft aagiratte dose. ondhu dozen dose aaramagi hodeebahudu, yenanthira?!😉

  18. usha Says:

    Vidyarthi Bhavan nalli pakkadh tablenavara ( elder group who will be sipping by/two coffee) matukathe kaddu keLidre sakkath maja siguthe , it will be so informative gotta… dosey jothege oLLe dose of info kooda (absolutely free)

    Ramakrishna mathadha (olden days)vidyarthigaLu VB avara loyal customers antha keLideeni, adakke irbohudhu aa hesaru…

    Good write up Bellur

  19. Kishor Says:

    CTR, VB, next MTR??🙂 Bon Appetit!

  20. rk Says:

    usha,
    nice trivia. thanks.

    kishor,
    you are right. next is MTR. but not Mavalli Tiffin Room……that is later. now it is another MTR: i.e. Mahalakshmi Tiffin Room, again in Gandhi Bazaar, which is famous for Eerulli Dose.

    no prizes for guessing who gave me this info.😉

  21. Mahesh Says:

    I don’t know if folks remember a restaurant called Gajendra Vilas, a small place on 4th Main Road Chamarajpet which used to make the most fabulous masala dosas of all time. Of course it was in direct comptetition in those days with Vidyarthi Bhavana and Majestic hotel (again in chamarajpet). Unfortunately Gajendra Vilas closed down (probably about 20 years ago) and have not had the oppurtunity to taste such good dosas again, vidyarthi bhavan, dwarka, mahalaxmi tiffin room included (I am sure folk from Chamarajpet and Gandhi Bazaar recognise these places)

    I now live in the UK, and keep trying out different recipes trying to remember the taste from my childhood days, but nothing can match the red chutney lined dosas that were prepared by the adige bhattru from there.

  22. Murtuza Says:

    A very good review. You have tempted me to visit this place but sadly its friday today. So Here I come Vidyarthi Bhavan tomorrow🙂

  23. anu Says:

    dosas r small with heavy oil in it and chutney is watery,not spicy at al now it cost 27 rupees . i think its waste of time and money


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