Salaam Namaste Dosa Hut


Salaam Namaste Dosa Hut, 604 Barkly St, West Footscray. Phone: 9687 0171

Does a restaurant have any sort of obligation to tell customers what is in their food?

The food for which they are paying and which they are eating?

My persistent inquiries about the seasoning specifics of my rice meal at Dosa Hut are met with smiles, giggles, shrugs and vague mutterings.

It’s all good fun and I’m not even close to chagrined that I fail in my quest.

Bemused, maybe.

But maybe, too, some things are meant to remain unknown.

Dosa Hut should be celebrated widely in the west for being the first eatery to bring dosas and associated goodies into our part of the world.

That seems a long time ago now.

That first incarnation had a dingy shack aspect with a service vibe to match.

A second incarnation – detailed here – took a significant step towards a more formal and professional approach.

Now Dosa Hut has its third incarnation – and it’s another cool step upwards.

There’s branded windows, chic interior decor, a lot more room.

As far as I can tell, the menu remains much the same – though I suspect the range of dishes available of the Indo-Chinese variety has grown.

My simple, plain samosa ($1.95)  is beaut – mildly seasoned, beautifully tender potato, ungreasy pastry exterior.

From the Indo-Chinese list I choose “Schezwan Chicken Fried Rice” ($12.95). 

You might be thinking that’s quite a hefty amount to pay for a glorified Indian take on a familiar Chinese staple in a cheap eats diner.

You would be wrong.

This is a killer dish; a sensation.

Heaps of fluffy rice is riddled with chewy fried chicken chunks, omelette, peas and finely diced green onion and carrot.

It’s all quite dry and very un-oily, though like just about everything in the Indo-Chinese recipe book, it’ll never pass for health food.

The first few mouthfuls indicate spice levels of a benign nature.

That, too, is misleading. This dish has a magnificent slow-burn spiciness that glows yet never really reaches high-intensity levels.

Given the staff’s reluctance to clarify my seasoning queries, I’m only guessing. 

The orange colouring from a mix of turmeric and chilli powder?

The magnificent slow-burn heat from a LOT of white pepper?

It matters not – I love every mouthful.

It’s a big serve, one that should really be shared.

But I go closer to finishing it than I thought I would.

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Sims Footscray


The deli section at Sims in Footscray is a winner.

Sims Footscray, 511 Barkly St, West Footscray. Phone: 9687 2117

The Footscray branch of Sims doesn’t get quite as much of our time or money as it used to.

Other places – the Circle in Altona, Sunshine Fresh Food Market, the combo of our local Yarraville IGA and the Village Store a few doors along – tend to get our shopping action these days.

Still, it proves useful still on occasion – it often depends where we’re heading home from.

Will the big boys squeeze Sims out?

According to a very short article at Wikipedia, the Sims family package of supermarkets is now down to two – Footscray and Werribee.

Stores in Hoppers Crossing and Sunshine have been sold and rebadged under the macPlus Retail Group banner.

The two remaining Sims stores are affiliated with IGA in some way, but I seriously wonder how the Footscray branch is going to deal with the growing pressure of rapid growth – the store backs on to Bunbury Village – and the arrival of the big boys.

The Highpoint development project currently being erected will house a new Woolworths supermarket, and just up the road from Sims there’s an Aldi and a Coles at the Central West.

We like the range of Black & Gold sweeties at Sims.

Sims stocks Bickfords cordials – bit not the bitter lemon flavour! Grrrrr …

They do stock muesli basics, though. The white sultanas and roasted almonds for same are obtained from Sunshine Fresh Food Market.

Sims often has pretty good specials. I’ll be interested to see how these super cheap Italian tomatoes scrub up.

For a store that has quite a robust Mediterranean flavour, the range of oils and pastas is on the humdrum side.

For some splendid reason, the Footscray Sims just about always has really cheap red capsicums.

I love the way the smell of them getting blasted in the oven fills up the house.

Peeling and seeding roast capsicum is one of those Zen things – you’ll end up with a puddle of mush if you’re in any way cranky, impatient or hasty.

So soothing to just let your fingers ease the seeds and skins away!

The deli section at Sims is definitely one of the store’s strengths, with a really excellent range of cheeses.

The meat section is no great shakes, but there are quite often specials on items that are approaching the date they’ll have to be disposed of.

We tried a couple of these rather fine-looking but affordable pizzas … and found them to be not very good at all. The Village Store in Yarraville has a different and better brand.

I’ve often been frustrated when being unable to find fresh coriander at Sims. And then, when I do find some, I find it’s $3 a bunch!

The bread and specialty biscuit arrays don’t do much for us, but we like the range of rolls and buns for work and school lunches.

The ATM comes in the flavour of free – for my cards, anyway!

In some ways, that we don’t use Sims so much these days is a little sad for us. It’s just the right size – you know, not too big, not too small.

And it’s eccentric and and has a heart, unlike its corporate competitors.

Long may it remain open!

A little bit of Magic in West Footscray …

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It’s small, as far as vacant lots go.

Despite – or perhaps because of – a lack of attention, it’s far from overgrown.

We wonder how long it’s been here, like this.

The lovely little shack at the end exudes an air of mystery.

It’s shrouded in grey brambles and guarded by greenery.

The chimney may be a little off vertical, but it’s not crooked.

It should be.

At night, we imagine, the local Little Folk and other free spirits gather here to gambol.

We drive past often.

When we do, as if to reassure ourselves that all is right with the world, we slow down, crane our necks, just to make sure everything is still in place.

It’ll be sad day for us when it isn’t.

Dosa Hut


604 Barkly St, West Footscray. Phone: 9687 0171

Dosa Hut, as far as I’m aware, was the first to bring dosas and the like to our part of the world – and for that I’ll be forever grateful.

For the past year or so, it fell out of favour with us, and by then there were other places to get our dosa fix – most notably,  Vanakkam India.

The reasons we moved on from Dosa Hut were simple – in its earlier days the place had a makeshift ambiance that made us feel a little ill at ease. It was a bit like we felt we were sitting amid hurried preparations for an eatery that was soon to open – rather than enjoying one that was already up and running.

As well, the service had a sort of distracted air about it.

Following a Thursday night foray, I’m very happy to report that Dosa Hut has changed – for the better.

The place has had a low-key fit-out that makes it seem much more welcoming. There’s an extended menu that takes in not just dosas, idlys, vadas and biryani of various stripes, but also noodles, uttapam, omelettes, a range of snacks and even a modest list of Indo-Chinese dishes.

There’s even a display cabinet to one side of the servery filled with fine-looking Indian sweets.

As well, the service could not be more efficient or smiling. I wasn’t counting, but I reckon I received my dosa about five minutes after ordering.

Here and elsewhere I have experimented with various dosa types – variations including onion, cheese, egg, chick, lamb and so on.

But for me, and countless others no doubt, masala dosa is the king.

My Dosa Hut masala dosa ($7.50) was beaut.

Every element of it was fine – crispy pancake, potato stuffing laced with mustard seeds and curry leaves, sambar and two chutneys, one that seemed to be tomato/chilli-based and the other of creamy coconut.

A warning though: All three accompaniments had a degree of chilli hit about them, even the usually cooling coconut number. Nothing to worry most anyone used to eating out in the west, but their combined heat might be a little too incendiary for kids.

It’s real nice knowing Dosa Hut has become a place we’ll be returning to again.

In the meantime, things are changing in Barkly Village.

Opposite Dosa Hut, what used to be an old-style pizza/pasta joint is now a swish new thin-crust genuine Italian pizza place called Gusto On Barkly that is Very High on our “to do” list.

And a bit further down the road towards Footscray proper, what was once half a video rental establishment is soon to become another dosa/biryani outfit!

Oh happy day!

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