Along with a plethora Japanese restaurants, we also have a good number of Indian/ Pakistani eateries in my neighborhood. Curry Village’s arrival last year was the latest entry to the Inner Sunset, with stalwarts Naan ‘n Curry and Masala Indian Cuisine holding down in their location for many years. Masala Dosa replaced the Pakistani Tasty Curry on 9th that we never managed to visit; we had tried Curry Village once and found their dishes too sweet; Naan n’ Curry fell out of our favour in recent years.
But Masala Dosa seems like a great addition to our neighborhood, and our lunch there indicated that we’d be returning to it as our Indian place of choice in the future.
They were something like all of 2-weeks-new as when we popped in for lunch one Friday and there appeared to be only one serving person who also doubled as the host. Because of this, and until they gain their rhythm after being in business a little longer, I'd not recommend lunching here if you're pressed for time. Luckily, we were the second party in at that time, and our wait time for drinks and food was not too bad as we watched other tables wait and wait and wait.
But the food was fantastic! As the name directly asserts, the restaurant specialises in Dosa - thin crepe-like pancakes made of rice or lentil flour and filled with a variety of stuffings. We ordered the Masala Mysore Dosa, stuffed with spiced potatoes (not too spicy) and it arrived with accompanying sauces, lying large on a thali plate. The chutneys really shone - we particularly liked the one of coconut and lentil, chunky with actual coconut flakes, interspersed with just a small amount of tiny, firm lentils. The tomato chutney also tasted great - complex and well-seasoned with spice and a bit of sweetness. In addition, the restaurant also served us a vegetable-lentil-curry soup, which we used as a sauce. Watch out for the long red chilis!
Another kind of dosa is the Uthappam - which looks (and tastes) more pancake-like rather than crepe like. We selected the paneer and pea uthappam, and while also good, was not as flavourful as the masala dosa. The same accompaniments - chutneys and soup - were served with this dish.
Chicken from the tandoor is a bit of a cliché, I know, but it had been so long since I had ordered such a dish I couldn't resist. Our server warned us against it at first, saying that we may have a longish wait ahead if the tandoor oven was not hot enough yet. I ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala instead, but our server soon returned to let us know that we could have the tandoori in a reasonable amount of time.
A half order arrived with a chicken leg-and-thigh and a large breast. We were stuffed from the dosas, and could only manage to finish the dark meat, asking to take what was left over home. Tender with the yogurt marinade and smokey from the tandoor oven, the chicken dish was perfectly executed and delicious. When I ate the leftovers that evening, even the breast had remained tender and moist.
I also couldn't resist ordering the Gulab Jamun - deep-fried dough balls in a honey or sugar syrup scented with rosewater. This version was a bit disappointing, though. It was too sweet for me, and I would have liked more rosewater flavouring.
All in all, we're glad for a different kind of Indian restaurant in the neighbourhood, especially one that's a few steps from our front door.
1375 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122