Recently, I tried for the first time this South Indian place in Tustin. I first heard of it in last week's OC Weekly. Being a relative newbie in Indian cuisine, I didn't quite know what to expect, since my exposure to the food has been so far limited to my staple of Natraj Tandoori take-out over at the Irvine Marketplace, and one visit to a good but overpriced experience at Royal Khyber in Costa Mesa. I've been a meaning to take Suvro's list of restaurants to try in Artesia's Little India, but let's face it, I don't go to Artesia all that often.
We arrived early in the evening. The restaurant is free standing in the Drug Emporium plaza, next door to Noodle Ave. (a place recently reviewed here for the Chiu Chow Noodles). Walking from the parking lot, I was tempted to veer over to try Noodle Ave., since it was a cold crisp night - prime weather for soup. But it was curry and dosas for us tonight.
Dosa Place was empty, save for one couple. Fake, white leather booths and a garish neon border around the serving counter made the place feel like definite joint, but a clean one. Our pristine red table cloth was soon to be sullied by food dripping from our lips.
Dosa Place, as the name implies, specializes in dosas, large crispy crepes, usually stuffed with curried fillings, all of which would be completely new to me.
We ordered the Moong Masala Dosa ($5.95) which came out with a side of vegetable soup (I think it is called sambar). The sambar, which tasted like standard Campbell's punched up with spices, was good but it was the dosa that demanded our attention. Promptly, we started tearing into it. If the dosa was unfolded, it would have had the same diameter of a large pizza. At present it looked a dark, large, flat, folded crepe. The outer pieces were crisp and tasted faintly nutty. The bulk of the dosa was filled with a nice potato masala curry, which was a mash of spiced potato and peas. The waiter told us about the sauces that was to be used on the dosa. There was; the green mint chutney - bold, acidic, and herby; the white coconut chutney - mild and creamy; the orange chili and onion sauce - sour and hot; and the dark brown tamarind sauce - tangy, spicy and sweet. I tried one for every bite. My favorite had to be the tamarind sauce.
The Tandoori Chicken ($9.95) and Mixed Vegetable Koorma ($7.95) was brought out with a plate of white basmati rice ($1.95). I know...Tandoori Chicken is kind of a safe, unadventurous choice. But it was quite good. It was half of a chicken cut up into nicely charred pieces, served on top of sliced onion, peppers and lemon wedges on a sizzling plate. The chicken had a nice taste of smoke and tang from the yogurt marinade. The Koorma was also good. Savory pieces of potatoes, peas, beans, green peppers in a creamy, mildly spicy sauce. Curry heaven.
We left with plenty of leftovers, and our clothers smelled of curry. We are still novices at Indian food, but I think Dosa Place will soon make us become connoisseurs.
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