The first thing you notice when you walk into the perpetually busy Dosa is the amazing variety of smells wafting around. My southern Indian friends tell me the dosa, a kind of fermented pancake or crepe, is typical street food in the south made of rice and lentils. At Dosa in San Francisco, the restaurateurs have taken this otherwise common element and elevated it to Bay Area level haute cuisine by using fresh, natural ingredients to create flavourful accompanying dishes from around southern India.
Fillings for dosas, which come in a few different varieties and several options for fillings, include the typical Masala, mashed potatoes with cashews and spices, and the paneer and peas combination. The dosa is meant to be dipped into sambar, a kind of lentil soup, and liberally spread with my favourite part, fresh coconut chutney. Eating with your fingers is encouraged, and in my experience, infinitely more practical….just keep a napkin handy! In addition to the dosas themselves, the restaurant also offers small plates and entrées of regional Indian and seasonal dishes, some familiar and some created by using local ingredients and southern Indian traditional spices and techniques.
Dosa also offers a good wine selection, but my visit usually starts with one of the very creative “Spice Route” cocktails, which include such esoteric ingredients as Ancho Reyes Chile liquer, pistachio honey, and cardamom tonic! I would even recommend going just for the cocktails. Dosa has two locations, Valencia and Fillmore.