House of Dosas
Tel: (604) 875 1283
I must openly admit something before I begin. Two separate trips that I’ve taken to the amazing country of India in the past fifteen months has ruined me for good when it comes to Indian cuisine served in North America. It’s not to say that its not good here at times, its just that the overwhelming eating experiences I had in the Motherland were simply unforgettable and gave me a deeper appreciation of the food of that diverse country – although I am still nowhere close to being called an expert. To top it off, India was always one of the countries I’ve long wished to see for myself, and I think the awe and shock of that total immersion just filled me with positive (and perhaps unrealistic by Canadian standards) impressions and memories that will forever affect the way I look at Indian food.
The House of Dosas is located in an easily recognizable space, in a one-story building on the corner of Kingsway and Knight Street. With large inviting windows with minimal coverings, you can’t help but notice it when driving by, especially when stopped at the lights of that intersection. A friend of mine had mentioned that she had seen it and said we must make a visit one day, and as luck would have it, a group of us were up for an impromptu weekday dinner gathering. I was just hoping the dosas would be as great as the ones I had for my daily breakfast this past spring in Trivandrum, located on the southern tip of India.
Immediately upon entering, things got a little confusing as a pair of young men were standing by the front bar, dressed in regular t-shirts and jeans. I wasn’t exactly sure if they were just customers waiting for some service or if they were the service – which was made all the more difficult as they seemed to be engrossed in the cricket match playing on one of the hanging LCD screens. After an awkward pause or two, and an attempt to understand the situation through simple eye contact with one of them, we were put at ease as he identified himself as someone who could seat us for our table of four. Overall, the space is quite open, and feels like it could be home to your regular run-of-the-mill neighborhood pub, with its bar, ample square tables and a fore mentioned television screens.
We decided to share a few items, of various spice levels, to allow us each to get sample of the offerings here. The Lamb Curry (Korma) was ordered, medium on the heat meter. This came with a heaping of steamed rice, a slice of hot naan bread, a yogurt dipping sauce and several thin wafer pappadums. Now I know many people have their own sensitivity levels to spicy food, I’d say I’m more of the middle-of-the-road when it comes to how much I can handle. For me, I could feel the heat in the curry, and needed some breaks of water and yogurt in between bites to cool things down, but on the taste side of things it was rich and creamy smooth. Ample pieces of tender lamb (with none of its gamey-ness retained) were submerged in the mixture, with each of us getting enough of the meat in our individual spoonfuls.
Seafood Dosa was a popular variety I had in Kerala. Probably due to its close proximity to the sea. I was pleasantly surprised to see it on the menu here. The way it was presented in its long cylinder shape, drew looks from everyone in the room, no doubt many of them anxiously awaiting theirs to be delivered. Once cut up into segments, you could get a better sense of the filling (or lack there of). We cut ours up into four even sections, but in actuality only the middle two had any internal substance. This was somewhat disappointing, as we had to spread some of the korma to prevent the rice/lentil crêpe from going to waste. Frankly, I wasn’t so overwhelmed with this dish in terms of the flavor. Lastly, I loved how this was served on a flat green plate, remincent of the large plantain leaves that some food is served on in Southern India.
Beef Curry with mild spice was another dish we tried (and that I managed to capture an image of), and it was clear there was a dramatic dropoff in heat between the medium and the mild. The beef seemed a lot more ordinary to me compared to the lamb – I think it was both the spiciness as well as the type of protein itself.
All around us was an interesting mix of diners. Upon seeing some Indian families at the tables, with the older women attired in those beautiful saris, I got the sense that the House of Dosas has the seal of approval from the local Indo-Canadian community. I found it interesting though, that most of them were not going for the dosas. A younger Indian couple dragging in large luggage bags with airline tags still on the handles were sitting next to us and devouring some plates of curry. I got the sense they were craving some Indian food having been on a plane all day.
If I were to make a repeat visit, I’d probably give another dosa variant a try, but likely in the end return for another bowl of the delicious korma. Or better yet, hold out for another trip to India itself.