Dosa King Bangkok Review


Bangkok Header
Dosa King, Bangkok

153/7 Sukhumvit Road, SOI-11/1 (Near Nana Skytrain Station).

Bangkok Thailand

~$10 USD/person with drinks

Restaurant Type : Fine Dining | Casual
Diamonds : ♦♦♦♦♦♦

We debate taking a taxi. But then we remember that we’re in Bangkok, home to the world’s worst traffic. We’re in one of the many tiny little enclaves (sois) that are practically culdesacs, perpendicular to the main street. There are businesses all around us—but none of them is the one we’re looking for. It’s over 30ºC and we’re fainting hot and famished—but we persevere. We pass by countless tailors and a riotously garish fabric shop, walk over the blankets of street sellers hawking suspenders, ceramics, handkerchiefs and DVDs, are tempted by food stalls with smoking woks or heaps of pad thai.

We’re so hungy by the time that we arrive at Dosa King that we want to drink the chutney on the table, and start spooning up the pickle with our fingers. I imagine my fingers coated in oil and mustard seeds, skin burning from capsic acid, and it’s not a nightmare but a fantasy.

Thank goodness the service is brisk.

Thai food is one of my favourites, but one of my favourite things about Bangkok is that there are so many international cuisines on offer, all cooked to high standard—perfect if you’re feeling a little homesick. In fact, right in the heart of a city there are both this Indian, and an Italian restaurant, that are dedicated solely to vegetarians.

Dosa King—it’s like stepping back to a classy eatery in the heart of Mumbai. There are wood panelled walls and many servers. They call us “Gi” and boble their heads sideways in answer to both yes and no questions—and the food is HOT, if you want it to be, or rich and tangy if you don’t.

We’re very careful to go over our dietary requirements with the server—who just laughs and points at the menu, where vegan items are clearly indicated. We’re pleased that we can eat nearly everything, including the vegetable samosas (samosa wrappers in better restaurants are oftne made with ghee), and we order copious amounts of food.

We’ve been in China for over a month, and this is to be our first Indian meal in a dog’s age. And like a dog on garbage, we’re gagging for it, eyes round and wet, chops quivering. The smell is heavenly, and I wonder if this is what it is like to smell as well as a K9—it seems that each separate spice has it’s own aroma that wafts from the kitchen to our table, cumin, coriander, chili, and tomatoes. Oh heaven. I’m starving now just thinking about it.

When our appetizers arrive, the whole day’s hunger is made worthwhile. The samosa I tear into is alright, but the Pani Puri is incredible. Pani Puri are quarter sized semispheres of crisp shell—filled with potato, onion, coriander, and chickpeas. That’s the puri part. And then, you fill a puri with pani. Pani, hindi for water, here refers to a cordial of cumin, mint, sugar and a hint of black salt. It’s hard to describe, but it smells like hell and tastes like heaven. And this is prepared perfectly, the pani is tricky to mix correctly, too much black salt and it’s like liking match heads, and too much cumin and it’s like liking armpits—but the chef has struck just the right balance. When you bite into it, the crisp puri shatters against your teeth, and the pani gushes into your mouth. After a hot Bangkok day, it’s a blast freezer of refreshment.

And, I need to keep my cool. For my main I’m chosen a Mangalore style dosa—a thin lentil crêpe with diced chilies and a spicy masala smooshed onto the surface of the batter, cooked until crisp, and rolled neatly into a cylinder. The spicy masala is nearly all thinly sliced red chilies, and as I eat it, the heat rush sends me on an out-of-body experience.

I know my face is scarlet, and my brow peppered with sweat, when the server asks if I’m alright.

I wouldn’t be if it was just fantastically hot, but since there is also cooling coconut chutney, and a whole cast of supporting flavours from bright coriander to sweet tomato, I just grin and nod. And eat half of my dining companions plain paper dosa to finish cooling my mouth.  It’s a good thing there are also Kabuli Channa (a chickpea curry in a rich tomato and onion gravy), and Baingan Bharta (a curry made from diced smoked eggplant), on the table. The eggplant in Thailand are amazing, and I swear the Baingan Bharta is one of the best I’ve eaten. The meal is so good, that we come back the next day. And after a repeat of the deliciousness, I can’t help but ask ourt server if she can pass on our compliments to the head chef.

The head chef comes out of the kitchen to say hello. His grin is infectious, and his passion for food rings loud and clear rom his Bollywood smile. He brings us back to see the kitchen, and it’s as gleaming and ordered as the front of house. As we watch a sous chef expertly prepare a giant dosa that’s well over a foot across, I’m struck by the way Dosa King’s attention to such straightforward fare really does elevate the food to a fine art. Like a patisserie, it’s not about hugely complicated recipes or rare ingredients, but about the care used to put them together. Dosa King offers up the luxury, not of spectacle, but of comfort and taste. I can’t wait to return.


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