New South Indian in Union Sq: Dosa Temple
- opinionatedchef Dec 20, 2011 03:14 PM
Thanks so much to maillard for posting about this new place near the Mkt Basket In Somerville.Having learned to cook So Indian food w/ friends from Bangalore 30 yrs ago, I have a particular interest in it and fascination with its endless variations w/in a limited but large pantry.The South Indian restnts I have frequented in the Boston area are(beginning w/ the worst and moving upward): Pongal,Billerica;Priya , Lowell; Udipi Bhavan, Lowell; Meena's Kitchen, Nashua; ;Biryani Park, Melrose.
Per usual, we tried alot of things today.
Highlights were the:
(App) Vegetable Cutlets
Enni Kathirrika- eggplant chunks in tomato ginger; unlike any other eggplant i have had in Boston;
bright flavors (maybe some tamarind?) and some heat
Palak Paneer- spinach and paneer- best i've ever had; particularly rich and nutty flavored (i thought it was pureed cashews but the chef said no, no nuts.)
both above dosa very well executed, but potato masala lacking in cumin and not as good as many others; contains slivered cabbage
Vegetable Uthappam- tart and toothsome and well done ,per my request
Medhu Vada - very fresh and light; i just prefer them not so light
Not well executed:
Avial- Coconut and yoghurt vegetables; many woody okra; not particularly well spiced
Pesseratu- Overcooked dosa; nondistinct batter but uppama filling good
Tomato chutney- serious uggggh; like doctored ketchup
Rice- have never before had overcooked/mushy unseasoned rice . maybe they pulled it off the lunch buffet steam table (buffet had just ended before we arrived)but still, no cumin?blah.
The menu includes a number of Indo-Chinese things that we did not try.
Service was fine but rather slow, esp. w/ only one other diner there. Atmosphere 'nil cafeteria' - green walls and booths, cream linoleum, a few photos on walls.
I bet Dosa Temple will be very popular and i look forward to hearing other CH experiences there. Thanks again to maillard!
W Pearl St, Nashua, NH 03060
We just got back from there after going to an event in Union. Luckily, Dosa Temple is open until 10pm and people walked in closer to that point so it could be a resource for semi-late dining in the area. When we arrived at 9:30, we were the 2nd table and a 3rd table showed up later. I did not have the same slow service that OC experienced. With the menu being so large and half the dishes new to me, I probably could have used a few more minutes. The food was brought out in a reasonable time period and they were attentive with the water. I do agree that the decor was stark but this didn't surprise me too much.
I had the Poondu Kuzhambu which was tamarind-tomato based dish centering around garlic cloves. It was marked as hot, and it was spicy without being deadly and was more of a flavorful heat than a chili pepper one. The tamarind and garlic flavors worked rather well. It was a little shy on other ingredients, but the description was accurate so no fault there. Probably ordering some bread would have added some protein to the dish. Instead I had some of my wife's dish (her dosa order was why I didn't order bread in the first place).
My wife had the Temple Special Masala Dosa which I tried. Unlike other dosas, the grain used was more substantial. I would almost call it buckwheat in texture and darker in color. The spicy chutney coating the interior layers in the rollup was a good touch as was the crunchy cabbage. I didn't try the condiments that came with the dish but she spoke highly of it.
I definitely will be back especially since it means that we don't have to travel out to Lowell now for Udipi Bhavan.
I've enjoyed the Ashland location a few times. Well prepared food at a reasonable price. I've come to not expect much service at Indian restaurants.
I realize that this is a very small nit to pick, and I hesitated to bring it up, but folks will have MUCH better luck searching for more information about this restaurant, both here and on Google, using the correct spelling. It's Udupi Bhavan - two "u"s, only one "i."
Isn't Biranyi Park known for Sri Lankan food, not Chennai style?
Ritu Ki Rasoi also does South Indian, as well as other regional specialties. They cater to the tastes of the local expat Indian community. The time I went it seemed like a H1-B visa meetup with families. None the less, the owners go way out of there way to explain each dish throughly and even gave us some complimentary Kulfi, which was very appreciated.
i know not about Ritu. doko des ka?
tatsu, if you read through the extenive BPark threads, you'll see lots of discussion of the foods they do. As the owner explained to me, throughout India you will see restaurants representing all different regions. BPark has dishes from other Indian regions . The owner is Sri Lankan but Sri Lankan specialties are a smaller part of the menu, which 'specializes' in the broader category of So.Indian food. hope that helps.
( and get this, the owner told me that [as small as the Boston sri lankan community is] there are sri lankans who won't come to her restnt because of a difference in the religions who have been warring over their homeland these last 30 yrs.) sigh.
BP is on my list for the string hoppers and the like. For some reason it hasn't been throughly discussed here, although it was noticed by one Chowhounder on it's opening. (Which is amazing considering how far it is away from the street.)
The dosas at RkR, coming out of the kitchen, are the real deal. A full 18 inches or so, right color, everything spot on. The Ravi Dosa did not disappoint either. In fact it's my favorite chaat/dosa place at the moment. It is just a bit hard to get to. They maintain a serious facebook presence and often have a specially themed regional menu on Wednesday nights. The woman who guides you through ordering is quite smart and helpful, without patronizing, even though the crowd is 99% Indian. They really get not only the food, but the service and marketing part of restaurant business, which is rare for such a modest casual dining place. And I mean really modest, plastic trays, Staples office tables and a quickie built restroom from Home Depot all in a building which seems to be the back of a old auto parts store.
They are in Burlington and have a good website as well as fb page. Check them out.
I liked but didn't love the one lunch I had at RkR, thought it was on the bland side. Great description of the room/atmosphere. What with being out of the way for me with godawful traffic, I haven't been back especially with BP so great and very convenient for me. But I've marked it for further exploration (along with Dosa Temple which is right in the nabe). Thanks.
Regarding Ritu Ki Rasoi, I think a must try is the Vada Pav, which was in high demand from the expats. It's pretty much a state dish of Mumbai's region. It is similar to a Japanese croquette sandwich, just like the one Cafe Japonaise sells oddly. RkR has other little dishes that look, well, nothing special to non-Indians, but are quite meaningful to expats, which I don't see anywhere else. That and the regional focus meals on Wednesdays get an extra star for effort from me. I think they simply try harder and it shows. Even the Kulfi was the real deal, it might of been pre-packaged, but it was real Kulfi, not ice cream with nuts and cardamon. The order taker had some raspberry sauce drizzled on it too, which made me kind of go, "Awww, they try so hard!"
I think it's the kind of place that excites the amateur gastronomist in me.
First time eating Southern Indian cuisine - really liked it, much lighter than the heavy, goopy sauces I got from Kebab Factory recently, not as complexly flavored as Guru, but lighter still.
Got idli sambar - bread dumplings in sauce - not hugely interesting, but satisfying - not sure if I would order again, but I think it is meant to be a humble dish.
Mysore tomato rasam soup - this was awesome - just a broth with chopped tomato and some onion, cilantro - very complex spicing though - did not bring the serious heat, but could easily see this as a go-to for when I am fighting a cold. My favorite taste from the meal.
DW had a simple green salad - did not try, but it looked fresh and it got ate.
And my first ever dosa - the temple special masala described above - a decent amount of spice, crunchy cabbage as noted, enjoyed the green sauce and the red sauce, although as OC noted, not an awesome chutney, but it was fine by me.
Pleasant folks - they gave me the food with the idea that I had already paid. When I called in the order, the gal taking the order hung up before I could ask how long. So a couple of kinks to iron out.
For me, this meal on the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. I liked that it is all-veg, and I came away definitely wanting to explore more of the menu.
re: Bob Dobalina
bob, idli is prob the blandest thing on a so. indian menu. (even 'plain'rice usually has cumin seeds in it!) They are made from a rice and lentil batter that is steamed. the same lentils and rice turn into other batters that are made into pancakes (uttapam) and vada(fried 'donuts'), and other dishes. idli are a real comfort food for so. indians but i have never had any that made me want more.
i didn't know you could get a green salad; that's great.
just encouraging you to eat there sometime because the 'breads'- dosa, vada, etc- are so much better eaten hot and fresh from cooking.In particular, dosa lose their flexibility and get hard as they sit. So glad you had a good experience there. it's a fascinating cuisine!
Thanks, OC - I should clarify that the "green salad" was their description - it was composed of lettuce, onion, carrot and cucumber (I think), with a light oil dressing.
Right on about the breads - we did not get any and were missing something to sop up the goodness (other than the dosa of course).
re: Bob Dobalina
At the buffet it also had chickpeas on it. I admit I let a little tamarind date chutney touch it.
Idli is something I first had at Namaskar in Davis, as well as Patra, (Which I had canned prior to eating it in restaurants, but I love that dish as well, from Gujarat. Back then it was the only way to try non-North Indian food, in cans from Indian markets.) I have tried Idli at many places now, and Dosa Temple's is pretty good. Sometimes they are very fresh, quite fluffy and soft and that's when it's a sublime experience. The best one I've had was in an authentic "tiffin room" joint in NYC on Lexington. In a Sambar soup it's quite nice, but if the chutneys are good as well, it's great with just those accompaniments. I agree a mediocre Idli is rather forgettable, but a really good one, like good bread, can be quite addictive during a meal. It's great at breakfast.
i first had patra at namaskar as well; love it. it is, approximately, colocasia leaves ( some varieties are called 'elephant ears' by some gardeners) spread with a paste of coconut and spices at least, then rolled up into tight cylinder, steamed and sliced crossways. leaves are usually available in this area frozen or fresh. love the toothsome texture.
it is indeed a specialty of gujarat, and the majority of indians in the boston area come from that region, so i've been told.
Patra has a paste of spices and Chickpea flour. Coconut, if ever so present, is usually for garnish in form of crumbles or hash-like strips along with cilantro. They could be eaten just steamed or quickly sauteed in a dash of oil and mustard seeds.
The biggest gujarati populations in the US are in NJ & Houston. There are a few very good gujarati restaurants in New Jersey (Jhupdi - Iselin & Vatan - Newark Avenue, Jersey City) and 1 on Lexington Avenue in NYC (Bhojan).
I caught them at the tail end of a buffet service (thankgaia), so I axed them to whip up a freshy batch. Sublime, indeed, but gosh, for having the illest idli they sho do have the worst tomato chutney around. Which was fine, as I found their sambar to be particularly to my liking, incredibly similar to the version I grew up with.
Paper masala dosa had the requisite Dkembe Mutombo wingspan. I'm partial to dosas with a little less crisp overall (outer inch or two is great) but still excellent and, again, it didn't much matter if the tater masala was a throw-away, as long as I'm not sans sambar, I'm happy.
I'll be interested to see how the rest of the Chettinad chow is.
Ritu Ki Rasoi looks like the real deal. A chaat-shap, fo sho. Thanks, tatsu !
Those idli look really good. The surface is still slightly rough like a ripped open nerf ball so it looks fresh out of the steamer. When I had my buffet ones, the insides were moist enough. Perhaps they don't sit out too well, after all, would you eat dim sum that had been sitting in a tray forever?
Nab anytime you wanna hit RkR let me know!
tatsu, forgot to mention, but when I went in there they had the lunch buffet swinging. I almost never touch a buffet, and in this case I did a walkabout and also decided against it. The wait for fresh-steamed idli were well worth it, and probably a good idea to axe for achar as Bob Dobber did below, instead of that inspid tomato catsup they gots going.
RkR is the next stop - I will hit you up !
Wanted to note that, on my most recent take-out this week, in addition to the mild tomato chutney (which thinking of it as housemade ketchup may make it more palatable), I also got a cup of lime pickle - first time I've ever seen that in the Boston area given gratis with a take-out order...and it's fair to say it kinda kicked my butt...
Went from "It's not hot....it's really tart" to "wow....it's really hot..."