At Gokul Cafe, diners won’t want to miss the dosa offerings

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Gary Seman Jr.

Although Kamal Panchal has spent two years bringing Gokul Cafe to where he wants to go, he still makes a strong personal recommendation to customers.

“The most important thing, the best thing to eat here is the dosa,” Panchal said.

The variety is impressive, with Gokul offering 20 dosas.

Masala dosa ($10.99) is Gokul’s signature dish, located on the northwest side. Panchal is the general manager but the restaurant is owned by Nidhi Panchal, his daughter-in-law, who bought the restaurant two years ago.

The dish begins with fermented rice and lentils, which settle into a kind of batter that is grilled on the dish with vegetable oil. The result is a crispy crepe, stuffed with curry potatoes and served with sambar (vegetable soup) and coconut chutney.

“We’re doing the best in Columbus and maybe Ohio,” Panchal said. “It’s very popular because it’s crispy.”

A variation is rav masala dosa ($11.99), where semolina is used instead of lentils, creating air pockets. This version also gets curried potatoes and has a crispy exterior.

Hakka noodles ($10.99) are one of many Indochinese dishes on the menu. Packed with vegetables, such as beans, carrots and peas, the long, thin noodles are sautéed with soy, bold chili sauce and ketchup for a tangy and tangy result.

Phav Bhaaji ($10.99) is one of the few Indian dishes to use American-style buttered buns. The filling begins with a robust mixture of cooked onion, garlic and cayenne pepper, in which pieces of potato are cooked.

“It’s real street food in India,” said Panchal, who once owned Annapurna and Udipi Cafe, which have since closed.

Although most heat levels can be customized, the daring could try the chili paneer ($9.99), with thick chunks of natural Indian cheese smothered in a tangy chili sauce.

Likewise, the cauliflower pakora ($5.99). Fried and shredded in appearance, spicy breaded cauliflower is served with sweet, mint chutneys.

Gokul Cafe offers a number of rice dishes, one of the most popular being Lemon Rice ($10.99), starting with a mixture of fresh lemon, oil, cayenne pepper, black mustard seeds and a number of other spices mixed with flaky rice.

In a bold move, as COVID-19 cases appear to be on a permanent downward trend, Gokul Cafe is resuming its chaat, i.e. snack, buffet ($11.99) Monday through Thursday. A weekend lunch buffet ($15.99) is Saturday and Sunday.

Panchal said customers are given gloves, hand sanitizer and plastic cutlery, which they throw away after each turn to the buffet line and repeat safety measures once they resume.

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In one look

Or: Gokul Cafe

Site: 2685, boul. federated.

Hours: from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays

Contact: 614-766-2233; www.gokulcafe.com

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