Dosa King (Spring Lake Park, Minnesota)

Dosa King: Sad Masala DosaMore like Dosa Pretender. This was not a good meal and has put my proposed slow-motion survey of Indian food in the Twin Cities metro area in some jeopardy as it has led my wife to beg off attending any more of these meals—she thought our meal at Bawarchi was fine but nothing worth driving two hours for; but this she thought barely approached acceptability; and I’m not sure if the friend who accompanied us is enthused at the prospect of a possible repeat of this experience.

Caveats: We ate lunch on a Saturday and it was the predictable buffet. It is entirely possible that they do better at dinner (though reports I’ve since received suggest that that may not be very much better). Also, it’s only one meal; maybe we caught them on a bad morning. Who knows? I’m certainly not going back again to investigate.

What we ate—please click on an image below, if you dare, to launch a larger slideshow with detailed captions

All of this came to $65 with tax and not particularly generous tip and it was about $40 more than I would have been happy paying for this. In addition to what’s pictured there were maybe two or three other dishes: one very strange looking alu-matar, which I did not touch but which caused our friend to make a strange expression when he tasted it; there was also that most traditional of all South Indian dishes, paneer tikka masala; I don’t remember anything else though there may have been something. Though we did not waste much of our food, not one of us got up to get seconds of anything. The best I can say is that none of what we ate tasted actively bad/nasty—none of it was unpalatable. It’s just that all of it was mediocre and dull at best and that any restaurant should aspire to more than “not unpalatable” at any time of day that they’re open. Frankly, I don’t care that it was a lunch buffet: no place claiming to specialize in dosas etc. should ever send out such sad dosas or serve cold iddlies and lukewarm vadas with watery coconut chutney.

It’s a bit of a mystery to us how this place is open (and possibly thriving–though there were not very many people there that day) while Nalapak, which used to be a few miles south on Central Avenue, closed. We thought Nalapak was average when we ate there (on a couple of occasions) but compared to Dosa King they were the French Laundry of South Indian food. It’s possible, I suppose, that Dosa King has had a recent change of ownership. There were only two people in the front of the house and neither were Indian (as far as I could make out), and neither seemed to really know the food (they also didn’t seem to know how to operate the cash register). There was reference to a “he” cooking in the back but there was almost no sound emanating from the kitchen. The two women were not happy with me for sending the dosas back and made a huge deal when I was paying at front of asking another bunch of customers—an Indian family—if they had liked the dosas and found them too soggy etc. The man said that everything was good, and one of the women looked at me meaningfully and said, “maybe you just had bad luck with your dosas”. I wanted to say “maybe they’re just being polite, maybe they have low standards, maybe they’ve not had very many more dosas than you” but instead I smiled politely.

It gives me no pleasure to pan this place: someone owns it and may possibly take pride in it; but passing over bad meals in silence doesn’t seem like a good idea either. But if you’ve eaten here recently (whether at lunch or dinner) and had a very different experience do write in below.

Anyway, I’m going to need to find some people willing to accompany me to Malabari Kitchen for the next installment in this saga. And I’m afraid if that meal is a fiasco as well I’m going to be bringing this experiment to a close. I’m a glutton but not for punishment.

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