When it comes to Queens, Gothamist has kvelled carnivorously about everything from Korean fried chicken to Filipino pork crackling. Despite our devotion to the borough's meat dishes, every fortnight or so we venture forth seeking vegetarian fare. Specifically South Indian, which features such snacks as crispy dosai, crêpes made from rice and lentil batter. We prefer ours filled with potato and green chilies.
Yesterday when a friend told us about Sai Bhavan Snack & Sweets on the eve of Diwali we took it as a good omen and headed off to Flushing. The confluence of our vegetarian craving and the Festival of Light wasn't the only thing that drew us to Sai Bhavan, though. Upon learning that the chef, Madhusudan Rao, was the chief cook for Bowne Street's Ganesh temple for 15 years we were even more intrigued.
Our order of idli, or steamed rice cakes, landed on the table like a duo of flying saucers. As with most South Indian dishes, the pillowy white disks were accompanied by the spicy vegetable broth known as sambar and coconut chutney. Usually these two obligatory sides leave us flat, but Sai Bhavan's spicy sambar was bobbing with chunks of whole veggies and the chutney was incredibly fresh tasting. Our feast also included vada, expertly fried crunchy lentil donuts with just a hint of hot pepper. Lastly, since we're all about the dosa when it comes to South Indian eats, we had to try one we never had before. The light spongy rava dosa was unlike the browned crêpes we're used to. Nevertheless, tearing pieces from the bubbly sheet of veggie studded dough and filling them with the bits of spiced potato proved quite delicious.
While we're pretty sure we don't have the kitchen chops to work with it, Gothamist was pleased to see that Sai Bhavan sells dough for idli and dosa.
Sai Bhavan Snack & Sweets, 141-20 Holly Ave., Flushing, 718-359-2091