Many years after introducing San Francisco diners to the delights of high-end South Indian cuisine, DOSA has a new executive chef: Arun Gupta, who arrives from his native New York City, where he learned the ropes at Gramercy Tavern. The chef will oversee the menus at both locations; his new menu goes into effect at the restaurant’s Fillmore location tonight.
Gupta was recruited by DOSA co-owners Anjan and Emily Mitra, who opened DOSA on Valencia Street in 2006 before expanding with their larger Fillmore location in 2008. With DOSA on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list for the 11th time this year, the new executive chef finds himself in the comfortable but challenging position of stewarding the restaurant forward while refreshing its menu to reflect his own sensibilities.
“So many people love DOSA,” says Gupta, who counts himself among them. “It’s super comforting to have a built-in group of regulars and a team of South Indian chefs.”
Gupta wasn’t formally trained as a cook, and calls Gramercy Tavern his culinary school. After five years of working his way through every station in the restaurant, he left to help open the Southern-inspired Maysville as chef de cuisine.
Until now, Anjan Mitra has served as executive chef, and he’ll collaborate with Gupta, retaining the restaurant’s focus. “DOSA is a South Indian restaurant. We’re trying to keep it very authentic, and use California ingredients to show off what we can do. The way I put it to my chefs is ‘if everyone in South Indian was actually in Northern California, what ingredients would they use?’”
One ready example from Gupta’s new menu (below) is the Ambur chicken curry. “Traditionally we use cashews to thicken the dish,” he explains, “but this is California, so we’ve used almonds, and some heirloom peppers.” Diners might expect other substitutions, like peaches instead of mangos.
Gupta brings an outsider’s sense of excitement to local California produce. “We never used avocados at Gramercy or Maysville, so naturally, the first dish I put on the menu here was an avocado dish,” he says. When Gupta sees, for example, giant squash blossoms at the Ferry Plaza farmer’s market, he can’t help but text a picture of them to his friends at farmers markets back east.
The new fall menu is available starting tonight at DOSA Fillmore, with some dishes available on Valencia, too. The chef hopes to foster a different identity for each location, “to let each restaurant shine in its each way, not just make one a light or less fancy version of the other.”