Dosa Corner opened a month or two ago in the much beloved AL’s Place location. Its sister restaurant, Aaha Indian Cuisine on 17th Street, opened in 2022, so between the two of them they’ve got your (mostly) South Indian cravings covered. The space itself is much unchanged (except … it’s a little — ahem — shoddier than before, and unfortunately, it’s noticeable. More on this later.) Fortunately, the food was excellent.
Dosa Corner specializes in — wait for it — dosas, so we probably should have gotten more than one. Since the upscale Dosa closed on Valencia and 21st streets, there’s been a notable lack of the delicate fermented pancake in the Mission. We started with the onion rava masala dosa to share:
It had a different texture than what I’m used to, as rava dosas are made with semolina flour, and not fermented. This had a gorgeous, lacy texture to it, with no filling besides the onions and, while it was tasty, it was a bit difficult to cut and eat, at least for the uninitiated (namely, me). It came with the usual samplings of savory and sweet chutneys (ginger, tomato, peanut, coconut), sambar, and some pickled veg as well.
Next, cabbage fritters, which turned out to be chopped cabbage, battered and fried until super crispy, much like onion rings.
Addictive! Irresistibly crunchy, with a coriander chutney for dipping. Would make really fine bar fare with an icy cold beer.
We also shared the Apollo fish:
Pieces of tender white fish, marinated in spices and curry leaves, then fried. Slightly spicy, savory, with a hint of sweetness. Delicious, and surprisingly light despite being fried. I could not stop eating this. Then again, I really wasn’t trying.
We also ordered the Vijayawada chicken biryani. Our server tried his mightiest to dissuade us, warning us repeatedly that it was going to be very hot for our Gringo palates. He said it wasn’t spicy for him, but he’d seen Americans eating it and could tell it was too much for them.
To which, of course, we said: Bring it.
Unlike any other biryani I’d ever had, this was much lighter, less oily, and the difference between Vijayawada biryani and Hyderabadi biryani seems to be the use of different regional spices. The fragrance was intoxicating, and I loved the addition of the hardboiled egg. As for the heat, sure, it was a bit spicy, but nowhere near as bad as advertised. Light sweat and runny noses were the worst of it, including the sauce on the side that would supposedly make it even hotter (in fact, one of the chutneys that came with the dosa was spicier than the biryani). We loved it, and I’d definitely get it again.
Finally, rogan josh curry.
Just lovely, with a good amount of spicing, very creamy, great depth of flavor, and tender, fat chunks of lamb. As one of my favorite curries, this one stood out for me.
The portions are generous in the extreme — we had a ton of leftovers that I sent home with one of my friends — and all at very reasonable prices. There is much to explore on the menu. For instance, all the other multitude of dosas, the various uttappam, curries, breads, tandoor meats and kebabs, and a plethora of veg options. The level of cooking here is high, and everything we tried had the feel of comforting, homemade fare.
At the time we went, Dosa Corner was only serving beer (Indian and American) though we were told they would have wine soon.
Back to the unpleasant business for a moment: Our first impression on walking in was of a rather run-down restaurant — quite puzzling, as they’d only been open a little over a month. The menus were frayed and splotched, the floors a bit soiled, which was especially noticeable in that space of pure white walls and bright blue trim, and the abundance of light from all the windows. It was a bit unsettling that such a new establishment had allowed itself to become grubby so quickly. Don’t get me wrong; we’ve all eaten at our share of grimy dives, and they have their place, but Dosa Corner isn’t one, and shouldn’t let itself become one.
I’m willing to give it another chance, as the food was quite wonderful, and the service was warm and attentive (and even caring — I felt our guy was genuinely looking out for our well-being in warning us about the biryani.) Here’s hoping that Dosa Corner spiffs itself up a bit to live up to its food.
1499 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110