Pancake Better

Go beyond the flatlands at Dosa

The eponymous rice-and-lentil pancakes at the two branches of the south Indian restaurant Dosa are understandably popular.

We're suckers for them ourselves, especially the lacy rava masala with a side of scorching-hot habanero chutney ($10).

But too much of the seasonally inspired menu receives comparatively short shrift. Here's a game plan for the ideal, non-dosa Dosa meal:

Start with the chile bhajia ($8). Fiery jalapeños and yellow wax peppers are enveloped in a rice- and chickpea-flour batter spiked with fennel seeds, cumin and a murmur of thyme-like ajwain. On the side is caramelized-onion chutney and a delicate salad. Dip, munch, repeat.

By the time the last chile disappears, your mouth will be screeching for relief. The balm: a soothing house-made rice-noodle (idiappam) and persimmon salad (pictured, $10). The soft noodles are drenched in thick, sweetened coconut milk and topped with thin disks of Fuyu persimmon arranged like flower petals. Dots of mint-cilantro chutney cover the noodles, and a sophisticated, spiced salt–musky with fenugreek leaves–is scattered across the dish.

What was that about dosas again?

Dosa, 995 Valencia St. (at 21st St.), 415-642-3672; 1700 Fillmore St. (at Post St.), 415-441-3672; dosasf.com