“Ten years ago, Indian restaurants here were all the same,” Rupam Bhagat told Food & Wine in 2017. In that prelapsarian age, Aslam’s Rasoi was only a year old and Udupi Palace hadn’t even opened. Bhagat’s lament certainly no longer holds, what with heavy hitters like August 1 Five and Rooh, plus the tiny and wonderful Divisadero wine bar Indian Paradox — to say nothing of Srijith Gopinathan’s Cal-Indian restaurant Campton Place, which won a Michelin star in 2011 and a second in 2016. Then there’s the always excellent DOSA, which recently added an uptown Oakland location to its portfolio.
But change is the only constant, and so as of June 7, Bhagat’s two-year-old brick-and-mortar follow-up to the Dum Food Truck will become Ritu Indian Soul Food. The new name translates into “seasons” in Hindi, and the switcheroo reflects a desire to burrow more deeply into a particular strain of seasonally influenced, casual dining that gets a little playful with sourcing. (Now four years old, the food truck will retain its original moniker.)
Open for happy hour, dinner, and weekend brunch, Ritu serves classic chaats, or street foods, plus a variety of inventive dishes like tandoori whole cauliflower, jackfruit biryani, and a “kuchumber” made with cabbage, onion, carrot, cucumber, arugula, trail mix, and a yogurt cilantro ranch. If you’re weary of seeing $200 chef’s tasting menus with rigid parameters, Bhagat’s eminently affordable four-course, $40, family-style menu with optional $22 wine pairing lets the kitchen decide on what’s best that day.
Beyond low-alcohol cocktails — including a white wine “mojito” — plus an extensive list of wines by the bottle or glass, Ritu has two flavors of that perennially popular yogurt drink: a mango and strawberry lassi. It was Dum all along, but you can’t say anything about it is Dum anymore.
Ritu Indian Soul Food, 3111 24th St., 415-874-9045 or ritusf.com