Dosa Fillmore: Taking Mission Indian Concept to Next Level [CLOSED]

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Indian Food San Francisco

While San Franciscans were setting up shop along the waterfront in anticipation for the night’s elaborate fireworks display over the Bay, my family and I blazed a path across the city, sampling international cuisine along the way. Our first stop was at Dosa, a fashionable Indian restaurant that happened to reside in the heart of the annual Fillmore Jazz Festival. The street overflowed with musicians, venders and spectators. Thankfully, luck was on our side as we not only found instant (and free) parking, but Anjan and Emily Mitra’s spinoff was even more satisfying than their original Mission restaurant.

The space previously housed a branch of Bank of America and, most recently, Goodwill. Not that it’s easy to distinguish its humble roots. Orange walls now host panels touting laser etched metal flowers. The varied lighting includes inverted, drum-shaped lanterns, a luminous fiberoptic “jellyfish” and a chandelier crafted from beads and tiles. The bar is probably the sharpest looking domain, featuring a gold mezzanine, floor to ceiling windows and an unusually inviting communal table.

Indian Food San Francisco
Chef Senthil Kumar created a sprawling menu with dozens of options, including Prawn Chile Fry ($9.50). Dosa lavished fire-red shrimp with a dry-rub of ground chickpea, chilies and spices. The intimidating looking (but relatively mild) shellfish appeared on a bed of micro greens with red onions and a lemon wedge, which added textural contrast and acidity.

Indian Food San Francisco
Dosa isn’t strictly Indian, as evidenced by options like the Mango & Goat Cheese ($9.50) salad, which combined crisp gem lettuces, toasted hazelnuts, juicy spiced mango and tangy gobs of goat cheese.

Indian Food San Francisco
Prawn Frankie ($13) is a lunchtime-only highlight, a supple roti “burrito” brushed with egg whites and filled with spiced tomato sauce, marinated onions, crunchy cucumbers and cilantro chutney. In this case, the filling was sweet shrimp, though chicken and paneer are also available. The side was a nice touch, crisp, bitter endive leaves topped with a light slaw and crushed peanuts.

Indian Food San Francisco
Pani Puri ($8) may not have been the best dish (that honor went to the frankie or float), but it was certainly the most fun. Our waiter instructed us to tap out the top of delicate, crispy “bread,” load in sprouted lentils (mung), chickpeas and fluffy mashed potato, each of which was tossed with minced tomato, onion and cilantro. We poured on spicy jalapeno water and tart-sweet tamarind chutney and consumed each puff in a single bite, unleashing waves of flavor.

Indian Food San Francisco
Dosa’s namesake dish is a millimeter-thin lentil & rice flour crepe formed into a tube or folded into a triangle. We selected a Chile & Garlic Masala ($11.50) filling, featuring garlic- and chili-spiked potatoes. We had the option of tearing off chunks and dipping them in cooling coconut chutney, zesty tomato chutney or sambar, a spicy vegetable-studded lentil soup. Dosa is the restaurant’s name, but it was also the least satisfying dish of the day, dense and unsatisfying.

Indian Food San Francisco
Lentil and rice flour also factors into slightly thicker but still springy pancakes called uttapam. South Indian Moons ($13.50) was the optimum way to sample Chef Kumar’s uttapam, with five miniature samples of the savory “silver dollars.” We received Masala with spiced Indian potatoes, onions and cashews; Spring Masala with fresh vegetables, including peas, carrots, cabbage & red onion; Caramelized Onion, garnished with cilantro; well-spiced Paneer & Peas, also with cilantro; and Tomato & Onion with the aforementioned ingredients, plus green chilies. Some uttapam were better than others. My favorite versions involved fresh vegetables and caramelized onion. The uttapam also came with twin chutneys and sambar, though I thought most of the pancakes already packed plenty of punch.

Dessert San Francisco
Chai Cola Float ($8) may be new to Dosa’s menu, but it’s already making a large impact. Dosa made a spiced cola in-house using black tea, cinnamon and clove, then dropped in scoops of crystallized-at-the-edges ice cream crafted from spicy ginger and aromatic cardamom. This was probably my favorite float to date that didn’t involve beer.

The Mitras have clearly refined their Dosa concept since my promising but unrealized 2007 visit to the Mission original. It also helps that people aren’t packed sardine-style in the Fillmore space, which was the case on Valencia Street.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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