587 Barkly St West Footscray, VIC 3012
|Opening hours||Daily 11am-11pm|
|Features||Cheap Eats, BYO, Wheelchair access, Vegetarian friendly, Gluten-free options|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
|Payments||eftpos, Cash, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 8528 5120|
Locals have dubbed it "the dosa wars". Newcomer Dosa Corner is facing off with long-reigning Dosa Hut for South Indian food at the kind of prices that can induce an elbows-out frenzied grab.
Dosas are $1. That's a huge, folded, paper-thin pancake to tear apart and dip in three sauces: fiery orange sambar; mild, coconut and peanut; and cooling coconut and mint chutney. You can also upsize (70 centimetres, pictured) and add on, choosing dosa filled with chilli-spicy cottage cheese, or mustardy potato, or pan-fried egg that forms a thin, inner layer.
Those little puffs of DIY delight, panipuri, are on the list of chaat (street snacks). Stab each crisp, golden, hollow orb with a fork to make a small opening. Then tip in mint-and-coriander water, spoon in a little onion and chickpea curry and slam it whole for a sweet-sour, crisp-with-liquid-burst mouthful. Repeat.
With other chaat, like aloo tikki (potato patties), plus six types of uttappam (pizza-like snacks) and a whole list of starters, including crisp-batter-dredged and fried "chicken lollypops" (drumettes, with the bone as the stick), it's worth exploring these smaller dishes before moving on to mains.
Chicken 65 biryani is the speciality, and it's quite special. Buried beneath the spice-rich biryani tossed with fried curry leaves are fried boneless and battered chicken pieces coated in 65 spice – overstating the great number of spices and herbs that go into the mix. It costs $9.95, and anybody with an average-size appetite could share it (there are also goat, veg and fish versions) and a dosa, and leave full for around $6 a head.
Chef/owners Vanshi Amalla and Venkat Kancharla opened Dosa Corner late-March. Amalla worked at Chennai's Marriott Hotel before coming to Australia and working as head chef at Dosa Hut eight years ago. Their plan was to open a restaurant further west, in Tarneit, but they missed out on that site (to Dosa Hut), so opened here, in West Footscray. Their place is super-casual; service is friendly, but a one-time-only proposition: dishes may pile up and you might need to wave to order more courses or another bottle of water.
In this strip of Barkly Street, dense with Indian restaurants, it's make or break. Some places are often empty, except for staff forlornly polishing glasses, while others are packed. There's no in-between, and no mercy. There is plenty of action up the west end, with Aangan and Dosa Hut mostly full to spilling. Seems that demand for cheap, South Indian food in this part of town is big enough to sustain two restaurants. Make dosas, not war.
Do ... Buddy up for meal deals, or blow in solo for one dish
Dish ... Dosa
Vibe ... Canteen casual