So good you need to say it twice
5 Apr 2022
What’s the story?
We love Dosa Dosa's back story. Owner Karthik Thiru was born in Tamil Nadu in Southern India, but came to Ireland after finishing school to study at the University of Limerick. In Southern India, dosas (similar to a flat pancake made from fermented rice and lentil batter) are an everyday food, equivalent to a sandwich, so he couldn't understand why they weren't readily available here, especially considering how much Indian food (of varying quality) we have access to. He ended up working in the tech sector, but his obsession with bringing the food of his home to Ireland continued to grow, until eventually he decided to buy a second-hand food truck, customise it, and Dosa Dosa was born.
The wheels were put in motion in February 2020, with the truck popping up in various locations in West Dublin, and just weeks later the country went into shutdown, but if ever there was a pandemic-proof business, it's a food truck. The lived a nomadic lifestyle over the next year, travelling around Dublin and Wicklow feeding the hungry and dosa-starved, but in February last year they found their first home, in a pretty random parking lot off Grand Canal Street. The location did nothing to dissuade old and new customers, and pretty soon plenty were breaking the 5k rule to get their hands on gunpowder masala dosa, paneer parotta and a side of Masala tea.
Late last year, the food truck morphed into a shipping container, with other food vendors joining them in the car park, so the Dosa Dosa truck was free and in search of a new home. After some searching they found it down a laneway at the side of Hyne's Bar in Stoneybatter (is there anything the D7 suburb doesn't have?), and earlier this month Dosa Dosa 2.0 opened for business. Never one to look a northside parotta in the face, we went off to do a Dosa deep dive.
Where should we sit?
There's a really nice beer garden out the back here that we foresee being rammed when the weather gets warmer (or if covid stays with us for the remainder of 2022), and half of it is covered which is handy, being in Ireland and all.
While the outside of Hyne's Bar is in bad need of a refresh and a paint job, the inside is a delight for the eyes. It's so very Stoneybatter, with its little nooks, corners, exposed brick, artwork, and lights ranging from "fairy" all the way up to "chandelier". It's the type of place you'd want to bring your friends from abroad when they come to visit, to show them a "real Irish pub", and we be very happy to cosy up in here for an afternoon sipping on pints and having the chats. There are also well behaved dogs all over the gaff so another potential plus depending on where you stand on the matter of dogs in drinking establishments.
What is slightly disjointing is that to get to Dosa Dosa you have to go back out the front door, turn left and go left again down the alleyway where the van is parked. This isn't a huge deal, but it means you either have to wait there while the food is cooked, or come back in your allotted 7/10/13 minutes, taking the chance that it's been sitting there a few minutes. We'd envisioned the truck in the beer garden so you'd be able to sip your drink while they cooked your food, and call out your name or number when it's ready. There's no way around this marginally irritating situation, other than hiring someone to ferry the food back and forth into the pub, which perhaps they'll look at if things get busy.
What's the food like?
The dosa are clearly the big ticket item here, but you'll also find parotta, uttapam, kathi rolls, vada and specials depending on the week.
If you've seen the vada, it's probably already on your order list - has anything shaped like a doughnut ever been a disappointment? The deep-fried lentil fritters are filled with spices, herbs and curry leaves, and while we're sure they won't be giving away their family recipe, you'll usually find chillies, ginger, onion and sometimes coconut in there. They're light and fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside, and only got better when dipped in the accompanying chutneys. Bar food Southern India stye.
The dosa is king, and first up we tried their best-seller - the Gunpowder masala dosa. Gunpowder is the name of the lentil and spice blend inside the perfectly thin and crisp dosa, made using dahl, chillies and curry leaves, making it all vegan, and all tear to your eye delicious. Bite it, chew it, dip it, gaze lovingly at it - you'll run the gamut. It's one of the spicier options, but we'd mark it as a medium at most.
We also tried the Chettinad chicken dosa, filled with Chettinad chicken (a type of south Indian curry) and spicy tomato chutney. This food is so pure, so flavoursome, so untouched by hands wanting to appeal to the Irish market, that it will probably make you a tad emotional.
A paneer kathi roll was so flaky, so buttery and so perfect we briefly wondering had we imagined it. With each bite you can hear the shards of paratha pastry crunch and crumble, giving way to the fragrant cheesy filling. This is one of the most popular street foods in India, and we feel aggrieved that they got this, while we got chicken fillet rolls.
Another section of the menu is devoted to parotta - shredded flatbread fried and mixed with vegetables, curry leaves and spices, and served with raita. We tried the egg kothu parotta with onion and mixed peppers, and it was a bit of a "once you pop you can't stop" situation, with forks aggressively diving back in for more. This also had a bit of a spice kick to it, but nothing unmanageable, and the raita's there to cool things down.
Everything comes with chutneys - mint and coriander; coconut; and tomato, and they make every bite taste different. The coconut in particular we would drink by the bowlful.
There's no dessert on the menu here, but the bar serve Pornstar Martinis if you're in need of something sweet, and Espresso Martinis if that's more your style.
What about the drinks?
For a pub, Hyne's has an impressive drinks list. There's a good selection of draught and bottled beer and cider (including craft obviously), and an extensive list of cocktails (which we didn't try but would be reasonably confident about). We'd steer clear of wines though - anywhere listing just the grape is usually bad news bears. Dosa Dosa are supposed to be serving mango lassis and masala tea, but they didn't have them when we visited.
And the service?
There's not much service to speak of. You order at the van, get given a time to come back, go back to your seat, then head back when time is up. As mentioned earlier it's a bit disjointed and a couple of times we realised our food had been ready a few minutes before we picked it up as it wasn't as hot as it could have been. Bar staff were lovely, but it's bar service, so between the two you can do a fair bit of jumping out of your seat. These are minor issues, but something to be aware of.
And the damage?
€43.50 for all of that food which comfortably fed three, which for price to quality ratio has to be one of the best bargains in Dublin right now.
You could get on a plane to Tamil Nadu and not find food as delicious and pure of purpose as it is at Dosa Dosa - okay you probably would find it but now you don't have to get on a plane which is going to save you a lot of money. You know those fantasies you have about making a new friend from a far off land and being invited to their house for a meal filled with the most incredible, fascinating, original dishes you might never experience otherwise? Dosa Dosa is that friend, and for mere pennies in comparison to what most Dublin restaurants are charging these days, we'd wager you'll have some of the best food you'll try all year.
Dosa Dosa @ Hynes Bar
79-80 Prussia Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7 www.dosadosa.ie