The medhu vadas (rice and lentil-flour doughnuts studded with curry leaves, $5) and the uttapam (a thick, onion-and-chile-studded pancake, $8) weren't particularly memorable. Nor was the coconut rice ($7), flecked with green chiles, fried cashews, and ginger, but it improved once I crumbled a papadam into it and stirred in a few spoonfuls of yogurt, and even more when I spooned in some of the greens pullakora ($8), softly spiced spinach cooked with split mung beans.

The Nellore fish curry ($12), a dish that rarely makes it out of Andhra Pradesh, came seasoned with something altogether more potent. When Bollywood Yul Brynner set the dish on the table, his bejeweled fingers sparkling, he announced: "That fish comes with a story. Nellore is a tiny fishing village outside Hyderabad. And every day, the fishermen there take fish from their nets, hack it up, squirt on a little lime, and cook it with just a little tamarind and yogurt. It's very simple food."

The pleasure of eating a thali is never knowing exactly where to focus.
Kimberly Sandie
The pleasure of eating a thali is never knowing exactly where to focus.

Location Info



474 3rd St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: South of Market


474 Third St. (at Bryant), 392-8353, Lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mon.-Sat.; dinner 5-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat. Muni: 8, 12, 30, 45. Reservations: not needed.

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Simple in concept, perhaps, but not in flavor. Onions, tomatoes, and mustard seeds fleshed out the flavor of the thin crimson broth, and its tamarind-lime tang was met by the heat of the chile. Too quick a sip, and the spicy vapor would hit my lungs, evoking a gasp. So I found myself spooning more and more of the broth over rice, stealing naan from my tablemate's thali to dunk, striving to make it into the clean plate club. Ma — well, someone's ma — would have approved.

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