2864 Ridge Pike
Right at the outset, perhaps, several notes of explanation may be in order. The word dosa, which appears in the restaurant's title, refers to a type of crepe, a crispy pancake made with lentil and rice flour. These crepes are designed to be filled or topped with a number of savory accoutrements. In contrast, an uthappam, which also holds a prominent place on the restaurant's menu, is a thicker, less crisp pancake that is also made with rice & lentils and, like its crispy counterpart, also filled or topped with a variety of seasoned selections.
Secondly, the word chat (chaat) really means "snack" and these are generally listed in the appetizer section of Indian menus.
Finally, the great majority of Indian restaurants in the U.S. offer their patrons the cuisine of north India, which is famous for its elaborate meat preparations, rice pilafs, velvety sauces, and delicate use of flavorings. In south India, where much of the population is vegetarian, the emphasis is on rice, lentils, pancakes, seafood, vegetables, and coconut. As a general rule, the flavorings in the south tend to be very spicy - sometimes fiery.
The Dosahut Chathouse majors in the latter and offers up some of the best south Indian cuisine it has ever been my pleasure to ingest. And, fortunately, diners are asked in advance with regard to the preference for spice. If you are a neophyte to Indian cuisine, or particularly delicate of disposition, my advice would be to stipulate "mild" in no uncertain terms. This will give you the full benefits of the kitchen's incomparable seasonings, provide just a tantalizing touch of heat, and significantly reduce the danger of any possible peristaltic reprisals.
The outside of the restaurant isn't terribly prepossessing; and the interior is utilitarian to say the least. Walls are spartanly decorated, bare tables simply adorned with plain paper napkins, and the culinary offerings are served up on snow white Corelle Livingware. Not a lot to catch the eye...
However, take heart, as noted above, there's plenty to beguile the palate... And should you arrive for dinner, you won't have to worry about scarfing down the reheated stale remnants of a lunch buffet - the downfall of many nominal Indian eateries - as there is, thankfully, no such animal here. Everything is obviously freshly made.
To start things off, be sure to sample the simple combo of 2 fried lentil doughnuts and 1 steamed rice cake. The countenances are slightly different; but both are extraordinarily airy and accompanied by sauces of seductive coconut and rather zippy tomato. Excellent on all counts. Ditto the onion pakora, bits and pieces of onion dipped in a mildly spiced batter and then deep fried. Imagine the most incredibly flavored and textured onion rings that have ever tempted your taste buds, and you have some idea of the pleasures in store here.
Also highly recommended is the samosa, two crispy turnovers stuffed with potato and green peas and accompanied by sauces of tamarind and coriander. And for a variation on the theme, you also can't go wrong with the samosa chat, a turnover topped with chick peas, yogurt, mint, and tamarind sauce..
As you move on to what we would consider entrée portions, marvelously delicious opportunities abound. Vegetarian curries, for example, offer numerous rewards... The vegetable curry serves up pristinely fresh vegetables cooked with onions in a tomato sauce, while its sibling, the vegetable kurma utilizes a coconut milk broth. And non-vegetarian curries are equally up to the mark. The saag tempts diners with tender morsels of either chicken or lamb caressed by a seductive spinach-based sauce. On the other hand, the absolute sine qua non among the curries is the incredible chicken tikka masala. Boneless pieces of chicken are marinated in yogurt and spices, roasted on a skewer, and then make their way to table swimming in an utterly irresistible velvety sauce redolent of tomato.
Among the aforementioned dosas (crispy pancakes), the sandwich dosa - filled to the brim with cheese, potatoes, onions, green pepper, and tomatoes - gets a nice kick from a slightly spicy sauce and, unless you possess the appetite of a ravening hyena, is enough to feed two comfortably.
AIf you still have room, finish things off with dough balls floating in honey syrup or, when it is available the kulfi, Indian ice cream flavored with a combination of ingredients such as saffron, cardamom, almonds, pistachios, and rose essence.
If you enjoy the freshly prepared diverse complexities of authentic Indian cuisine, Dosahut Chathouse is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered. The establishment is squeaky clean, the service friendly and informative, the price is right (the most expensive item on the printed menu tops out at $11.95), and you may tote along a vintage of your own choosing. Enjoy!
The Artful Diner
Diner is an independent, freelance food writer. His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.
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