Advantages Great vegetarian food served fast and fresh
Disadvantages No lassi - but I can live with that.
|Value for Money|
|Standard of Menu|
|Standard of Service|
Just a stone's throw from our Hyderabad hotel, the Geetanjali, we found a nice little restaurant tucked away on the corner of the street. The hotel reception had a menu for the New Santosh Dhaba III at reception and sent us over with their recommendations. It was our first day in Hyderabad after an overnight flight and I think we'd have eaten anything that was put in front of us but we appreciated the proximity. The restaurant has a cash-desk on the ground floor but the dining area was upstairs and we were sent up to find something to eat.As two tired, pale, Europeans we did feel a bit out of place in a local restaurant that clearly wasn't used to seeing many tourists but the waiter grabbed us, gave us a table and brought us some menus. I think we were a bit of a challenge for him as his English was a bit patchy but with a bit of pointing and gesticulating we all got along just fine. The restaurant was a long room with tables either side of a central aisle. There was a large window at the front looking out over the street and the place was clean, modern and - at 2pm in the afternoon - almost empty. I suspected we'd come rather late when the reverse proved to be the case - the longer we stayed, the busier it got.
The menu was entirely vegetarian, which was fine by us. I don't eat meat and I firmly believe that you're much less likely to get food poisoning in a vegetarian restaurant than in a mixed one. We didn't order a lot - just mushroom masala and tadka dal with a single portion of rice between us. At the two tables near us, groups were tucking into mountains of food so I think the waiter was a bit concerned that we hadn't ordered enough food. It wasn't a lot but our stomachs were still jet-lagged and we could have always ordered more later if we were still hungry but we knew that if we ordered too much and couldn't eat it, we'd feel wasteful and we'd worry about giving offence.The waiter asked if we wanted 'snacks' as well and this is very typical in restaurants in India which is a bit ironic since the food arrived just seven minutes after we ordered it. Had we taken something to nibble on whilst we waited, I think we'd have just ended up with too much food all at once. We had also asked for two sweet lassi drinks as a 'just in case' measure (just in case the food was too hot to handle). As it turned out the food wasn't too hot but the restaurant was out of yoghurt and couldn't do the drinks. It was also a bit tricky to get bottled water and we had to ask a couple of times and point to bottles on other tables.
The food was excellent. The dal was full of lashings of green 'stuff' which my tired brain couldn't quite figure out but was probably coriander or some coriander-like weed. It was quite thin and sloppy (the dal, not my brain) but very yummy. The mushroom masala had a mid-level heat and lots of tasty little mushrooms. I can't believe how quickly we polished it all off. The bill for the two of us came to just 220 Rp, a shade under £3 (or $5).On our third day in Hyderabad we went back again to the same restaurant because we'd enjoyed it so much the first time (and because the other local place we'd tried just wasn't half as good). It might sound dull but we stuck to pretty much the same order as before but with the addition of Channa Masala (chickpeas). The same waiter we'd had the first time was there to take our order which meant he knew what to expect from us (lots of grinning and no local lingo) but he had a friend with him who spoke more English. The friend popped back after he saw the order to warn us that the Channa would be really hot and to check if we were really sure that we wanted it. When an Indian warns you something is hot, then you can be pretty sure that they aren't kidding so we took his advice and switched to Palak Paneer (spinach and cottage cheese) and we really appreciated that he took the time and effort to help us with our order. It must be quite tempting to think "Hey, let's give these poor foreigners something that'll really make them sweat. That should be good for a laugh". Knowing we were hungrier than last time we also added a naan bread and tried again for the lassis, this time with success.
As before the service was fast and the food was excellent. The waiter seemed to think we'd chosen 'enough' this time and didn't try to encourage us to have more though we definitely noticed that by local standards we weren't exactly gorging ourselves.I doubt that you'd find the New Santosh Dhaba unless you were staying in the Abids area but the fact that this is number three in what seems to be a family of restaurants, suggests you've got at least two other chances to find the same menu and approach elsewhere. If you are in the Abids district, try to find it. The food is lovely, the prices are really low and we really didn't feel awkward being the only non-locals in the place.
New Santosh Dhaba III
4-1-967/7 Ahuja Estate, Abids Hyderabad, India
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