Last month, in our Eat This Now column, I wrote about my nearly decade-long tradition of patronizing Dosa Place and its second location (formerly called Dosa Express, but now also Dosa Place). One thing I forgot to mention was its owners, pioneers in OC's South Indian restaurant scene. Vijaya and Randy Vedulla host OC's best Indian buffet, the epitome of subcontinental grace.
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I enjoyed visiting with Ram Kadiyala* whenever I was there, but around 2010, the enthusiastic employee disappeared. I resigned myself to never hearing from him again. Then, a couple of weeks ago, Edwin Goei told me Kadiyala had popped up in an unlikely spot: a cubby hole of a new eatery in the office parks near John Wayne Airport. Two days later, I visited Vishnu Restaurant, and there was Kadiyala, on the phone while helping out with the lunch rush. His eyes widened upon seeing me, and we shook hands and caught up on the past three years. He congratulated me on becoming editor of this infernal rag; I marveled at his exploding catering service, which has him feeding Indian weddings nearly every weekend from San Diego to Reno. He had opened Visnhu just a couple of months ago. Only open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the offerings are spartan: a buffet, a menu printed daily on single sheets of paper that are tacked onto the wall, and segmented Styrofoam plates that keep things to a thali, the Indian tradition of eating small portions of many things.
There are daily curries, epic dosas, South Indian specialities and a rotating cast of complimentary pickles (latest on the agenda: apple pickles, simultaneously spicy, sour and crunchy). Even if you order the buffet, you get a mini-dosa. And all the while, Kadiyala visits with diners, leaves jugs of water on tables, and checks his buffet trays seemingly every minute to ensure they're of the utmost quality. Business is already booming, even though Visnhu is hidden in the circular maze that is Sky Park Circle, even though he has barely advertised the spot. But such is the power of Kadiyala: He could open a dosa cart near the Huntington Beach Pier, and his pilgrims would come.
Vishnu Restaurant, 17945 Sky Park Circle, Ste. J, Irvine, (949) 752-0358; www.vishnurestaurant.com.
* Visnhu Restaurant owner Ram Kadiyala was originally misidentified as having been a partner of Vijaya Vedulla at Dosa Place. The Vedullas, Randy and Vijaya, continue to own the Dosa Place locations and maintain that Kadiyala was an employee at their restaurant. The Weekly regrets the confusion and enjoys meals at both eateries.