A Contemporary South-Indian Vegetarian Meal at DOSA, San Francisco
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Vegetarian Friendly Factor –
Kid Friendly Factor –
When in San Francisco, eat like the South Indians do! Yes, you can get a pretty decent South Indian meal in the techno hub of America. DOSA in San Francisco is all about great South Indian food in a casual yet refined atmosphere. Among others, this multi awarded restaurant has received the prestigious Michelin guides 2015 BIB Gourmand for the eighth year and also the Best Indian for 2014 San Francisco Bay Guardian Readers Poll for the seventh year.
There are two DOSA restaurants in San Francisco; one at Valencia and the other at Fillmore. On our recent trip to SF, we dined at the original branch DOSA on Valencia, which is located in the lively and culturally rich Mission District. DOSA serves a contemporary rendition of South Indian cuisine. The food is fresh and delicious – light, slightly fiery and with a punch of flavours. With the best wines pairings curated carefully, vegetarian dining experience at DOSA, San Francisco is truly amazing. We were a big group of 4 adults and 5 kids, so we got to taste a lot of stuff. The staff is attentive and friendly, making the dining experience a tasty and cosy one. The restaurant also caters to those looking for gluten free, vegan, egg free, dairy free and nut free choices.
Both restaurants feature more or less similar dishes on the menu. It is recommended that you book your tables early, wait times can be long as even week nights can get packed by as early as 7:00 PM.
We ordered a couple of appetizers while we were waiting for the dosas to arrive. Dahi Vada (deep fried lentil batter fritters in yogurt, and topped with tamarind relish) was beautifully presented and quite inviting to look at. But on tasting, the dish was a bit of a let down, just about average. The star appetizer was undoubtedly the Sprouted Mung Salad with home-made paneer, coconut, spiced Bing cherries and greens. The salad was topped with pomegranate and tossed with a tangy and refreshing orange and cumin dressing, making the combination colourful and flavourful, all-in-all justifying the $12 tag.
They do have other mains on the menu, but when you’re here, you can’t not have the dosas. We ordered 4, and I tasted all 4. My top pick would have to be The Paneer and Peas Dosa ($15), which incidentally is what I had ordered. The Paneer and Peas Dosa would also be a great and safe choice for kids as it isn’t spicy, besides tasting yum. Also quite good were the Paper Masala and the Onion Rava ($13.5), both safe bets too. However, if you’re in the mood to spice things up, literally, then try the Habanero Mango-Masala. This novely indo-mex fusion dosa is something you wouldn’t find anywhere else. It was excellent and would have been my best pick, if I could have managed to eat more than 3 bites. Sorry folks, I don’t have that fiery a palette but I would rate it as an absolute must-try for those that do.
There is a kids’ menu – the dishes come in smaller portions and are accompanied with non-spicy condiments and chutneys (relishes). We ordered a mix of Cheese Dosas and Crown Dosas for the kids. All 5 obviously wanted the interesting hat shaped dosa, but once they tasted the cheese dosa, the preferences shifted and we had to order more of those. Each of the kids thoroughly enjoyed the meal. My youngest had an Idli (fermented rice and lentil cakes) which is one of the best finger foods around – non messy, easy to eat and a good mix of carbs and protein.
After polishing off the meal, as we were contemplating which of the desserts to order, our choice was made easier when the manager offered us complementary portions of 3 of the desserts. I’d be lying if I said that idea of desserts didn’t instantly become more appealing. Once we dived into the desserts, the group was very split with our preferences – so there was no clear winner here. Hit with the kids was the Pistachio Burfi ($10). If you’re thinking that the protein rich, nutty goodness of pistachio doesn’t sound like something kids would like, I agree. In this instance though, the layers of chocolate ganache might have had something to do with this preference. All adults on the other hand, agreed that the pista burfi was too sweet and too chocolate-y (if there’s such a thing). My personal favourite was the Tapioca Kheer (milk based dessert that has been simmered), it came with a tangy and tasty citrus garnish. I loved it but turns out I was the only one who did. The other 3 adults preferred the Rasmalai (sweet cheese patty, cream, cardamom, rose water and pistachio), which was just the right amount of sweet and quite yum.
DOSA on Valencia: 995 Valencia St, San Francisco. P: 415-642-3672
DOSA on Fillmore: 1700 Fillmore St. San Francisco. P: 415-441-3672