Dosa (on Fillmore)

by thedishandthedirt on November 9, 2010

When I used to work in Sunnyvale (holla all you Y! peeps!), I used to eat Indian buffet at least once a week.  And when I quit, I missed those lunches…and not just the companionship, I missed the food!!  But I live in San Francisco, and we’re not exactly low on Indian fare here.  I have, though, tried to limit my exposure to buffet anything, as I think I’m compulsive with food that is there for the taking (watch me at any party, and you’ll notice I’m always near the hors d’oeuvres table…embarrassing, really).  So when I’m able to eat Indian food, I step it up a bit and go to restaurants where I have to order by the plate and the naan isn’t brought to me by the barrel-full.  

Dosa on Fillmore is a totally different experience than the buffets of yore.  First, Dosa features South Indian cuisine, which I’m not nearly as familiar with as Northern Indian cuisine.  Second,  the restaurant is sleek, expansive, and totally modernized; I have not frequented many “hip” Indian restaurants, to be honest. Third, the restaurant touts itself as eco-friendly and green — and I quote from their website “using organic, bio-dynamic, and sustainable ingredients” — I don’t know what some of that means, but an entire page on their website is devoted to telling you about it.  I’ve eaten at Dosa quite a few times, and always at the Fillmore location (not the Valencia location).  This evening, I was interested to see what I would think using a bit more introspection.      

The Dish:
My girlfriend and I started with the prawn chile fry rubbed in ground lentils and chiles over (organic, of course) micro greens as well as the Dahi Vada, lentil dumplings topped with (organic, again) yogurt, tamarind, and mint.  The prawns looked exactly as I expected and packed the heat that I liked, which was complemented by the acidity of both the microgreens and the thinly sliced red onions; the squirt of lemon juice that I added heightened the contrast even more, and as usually expected with any dash of acidity, enlivened the taste buds a bit…which was a very good thing because your palate cannot be a sleepy little thing with Indian cuisine.  The Dahi Vada was exactly what I didn’t expect, as it was a dumpling (or dumplings, I couldn’t tell) completely covered by a beautiful spiderweb design of yogurt, mint, and tamarind.  The dumplings (I vote plural) were dense and not overly spiced; and to the extent that the spice was prevalent at all, the yogurt mixture totally quelled that element.  Both starters were good and gratefully, sufficiently different so that my mouth could get a breather (barum-bum!) between bites.

My entree was the Chicken Eggplant Baingan Bharta, which was an organic (shocking!), boneless Fulton Valley roasted chicken and pureed eggplant with peas.  I chose, as the menu suggested, to get the tomato rice as the side.  Ok, the side of rice, first of all, is a total misnomer, as it’s no side of rice.  It’s a big fat bowl of rice and the frugal person in me did a little happy dance realizing I’d be having tomato rice for lunch the next day.  It was also very very tasty.  Something about heirloom tomatoes and the usual suspect Indian spices (I lack the culinary prowess to name them all)…like I said, tasty.  The chicken was very tender and while there was certainly a kick to the dish, I tolerated the spice very well (although I should tell you, I like spice — my tongue is not afraid of a little kick in the pants).  I really enjoyed the pureed eggplant, but to be honest, I would have been a lot happier if there were also solid pieces of eggplant in there.  There was one piece, for show, but I liked that show and wanted to buy a ticket.  Overall, though, the dish was satisfying, but heavy.  No joke.  I took over half of it home, and as you people probably can tell, I’m no lightweight eater.  

Of course, though, I had room for dessert.  I chose to go light and had the chai chocolate and ginger cardamom ice cream.  Can you say yummy???  This turned out to be a great choice, especially the ginger cardamom.  You could distinguish both the ginger and cardamom, a nicely harmonious combo.  And I ended the meal without the singular heaviness that a custard or cakey dessert can sometimes leave.  

The Dirt:
So I think you can tell I liked my meal.  I mean, I’ll be honest.  The times I’ve went before (typically eating the dosas), I’ve usually come out with a gut bomb because the dosas are humongous and my choices were always packed with potato.  Tonight, I left a little lighter (probably because I didn’t force myself to finish my meal like I usually do) and I was a lot happier.  My only real complaint is the darn lighting is so low I could barely see; I think my laser eye surgery is starting to fade on me.

So the dirt is literally that — dirt.  Or, it’s sand…although playground sand really is dirt, right?  Anyway, my girlfriend has 2 boys, and I had 2 boys up until about 2 months ago, so we have a decent amount in mom-common.  In talking to her, I told her about playground incident where some kid was kicking and throwing sand at my boys.  I intervened, it happened again.  I intervened again, then the sand-kicker (as he’s not old enough to be called Defendant…yet) did it again, this time to some older kids, which resulted in a bit of push-war.  Anyway, the sand-kicker then decided to antagonize my 2 boys again, upon which my older son basically told him off (as much as a 4 year old can).  During all of this, I looked all over for this kid’s parent.  Clearly, a parent should have been having the “let’s not kick sand” discussion with their kid.  So where was the parent?  

The father was sitting outside of the gated playground area playing with his phone the entire time.  Once I located the Dad, I watched as his kid wreaked more havoc while he continued to watch Hulu, play Bejeweled, whatever.  The kid was probably no more than 4 years old, was running around and chewing gum (hi, choke hazard), and getting into both verbal and physical altercations with other children.  Seeing this, I was really saddened.  I fought my instinct to go up to the dad and say “what the f?” and instead, chose to just protect my kids when necessary.  After all, how do you go up to a parent without that parent being defensive because 1) it’s his kid (this is a mama bear talking) and 2) he’s clearly guilty of crappy parenting?  Anywho, metaphorical food for thought.  My Baingan Bharta provided me no resolution.
Bauer’s two cents here.
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