Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dosa in Mission, San Francisco

995 Valencia (@ 21 St)
San Francisco
(415) 642 3672

V has been promising me a day in the Mission district in San Francisco, ending with a meal at Dosa. Even though there are a number of dosa places in the South Bay, V feels that Dosa, which is slightly more expensive than other dosa joints, is still worth a visit. I have written about dosas and how they form a quintessential part of a South Indian meal in earlier posts, so I will skip the explanation here. Dosa is right next to Herbivore, one of our favorite vegetarian joints in the City.

It was a perfect day. We started in Mission and went all the way to Alamo Square to see the "Painted Ladies" of San Francisco and from there up to Twin Peaks to catch a panoramic view of the City on this perfect fog-free October day. On the way there, we had light lunch at another branch of Herbivore on Divisadero,which we were happy to chance upon.

The hike up Twin Peaks and back down and all the way back to Mission again made us fairly hungry and ready for Dosa. On the way, V showed off the cafe' where he used to hang out in his single days. He raves about the coffee at Ritual Cafe' but we didn't get a chance to try it today. Just across the street from Ritual Cafe' is another dosa place, Udupi Palace, which has a branch in South Bay as well.

Back to Dosa, we had a reservation for 5:30pm which is their opening time. For an esoteric menu like dosa, we were surprised to see that it started filling up fairly quickly. Dosa has a good tasting menu which I beleive is $39 and comes with wines paired with the meal. The main menu is fairly simple. First, there are a number of South Indian style starters like Thayir vada (or Dahi vada), Idli-sambar, Onion pakoras, and so on. Then there is a main dosa section with a variety of masala dosas, rava dosa, moong dosa and so on. Then there is a uthappam section with a variety of uthappams. The dosas and uthappams are around $10 - $12 each. The menu is primarily vegetarian, though there are a couple of fish and chicken dishes.

We ordered the Thayir vada to start our meal to cool down from our long walk. We were very pleased with both the presentation and the taste, and in addition, it came to the table very fast.

For the main course, V ordered the "Habanero Mango Masala Dosa" and I ordered the "Chili Cilantro Uthappam". The Habanero, as our waitress warned us, was ultra spicy and V was sweating after a few bites. He wished we had saved some of the Thayir vada! The uthappam was very nicely done (the downfall of uthappam typically is that it is very easy to under-cook it and leave it doughy). It was just spicy enough but not overly so. The sambar, and chutneys that came with both dishes were sub-par, nothing to write home about.

All in all, it was an enjoyable meal. The bill came to $40 for the two of us with tax and tip. San Francisco now has an additional "Health" tax of some sort, not sure if it has always been there! I don't know if we will go back to Dosa. It was a good one-time experience. Like my dad says, it is outrageous to pay $10 for a dosa which can be enjoyed on the streets of Madras (Chennai) for Rs.50 (approx. $1)!

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