Dosa Bar in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: PR)
The sign on the restaurant says “Indian street food.” The description on its Facebook page (where its rating is 4.9 out of 5) says “health food restaurant.” So which is it? The answer is “all of the above” – and more.
This new entry at the top of Dizengoff Street has ticked a lot of boxes in the modern culture of dining: Dosa Bar is 100% kosher, vegan and gluten-free. It is also decidedly no-frills: most of the outdoor tables are high, with bar stool seating; indoor tables are low, with matching stools for seats. No seats have backs. And there is no air conditioning to speak of.
The menu, in both Hebrew and English, is not extensive. On the beverage side of the menu card are bottled natural juices (NIS 16-21) – preservative-free and no added sugar – and imported beers in bottles.
There are no Israeli beers, although the non-domestic beers are reasonably priced. There is one house wine, currently white.
The food menu consists basically of two categories: based either on rice or dosas (crepes made from fermented rice and lentils and the variations thereof). There is a daily thali (NIS 44/48) – a meal of three cooked vegetable dishes, rice and a salad of sorts: chunks of undressed tomato, cucumber and red onion.
The rice is thin-grained Indian basmati, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds (while in season). The vegetable dishes rotate daily. The stewed chickpeas are delicious, while the malai kofta – characterized primarily by its trademark cashew and tomato gravy – is as good as I have had in Israel.
The thali comes with assorted chutneys – mint, beet and coconut – as well as vegan raita, made not with yogurt but a cashew substitute. All are excellent.
The dosas here – made of a fermented batter of urad lentils – are described by color. The classic masala dosa, filled with potato and seasoned with purple onion, coconut oil and chili, is the yellow one (NIS 38). It is as spicy at Dosa Bar as anywhere you will find in India, although you can order it mild.
In fact, it is recommended, since the thick vegan raita does not cool down the heat as much as the less viscous original would.
The main condiment served with dosas is sambar, a savory tamarindlentil sauce. The same salad that accompanied the thali comes with the dosas as well.
The utapam (NIS 18) is a pancake with onion and tomato baked into the same batter from which the dosas are fashioned. The crust is slightly crispier than that of the dosa, while the flavorful utapam’s little tingle of spice is mitigated by coconut chutney.
The desserts (NIS 22) at Dosa Bar are not only gluten-free but contain no refined sugar. These confections – based on a biscuit of puffed rice, coconut, dates and almonds – are topped, in the case of the banoffee, with caramel cream, bananas and coconut, and in the case of the kulfi, with cashew cream and seasonal fruit pomegranate. Both are absolute gems, an exquisite balance of creamy and crunchy, like an Indian petit four.
The writer was a guest of the restaurant.
188 Ben Yehuda St., Tel Aviv
Tel: (03) 659-1961