A few months ago, when a young wannabe restaurateur from Bangalore was Googling for ideas that would make his eatery stand out, he chanced upon a New York pizza topped with gold foil that was priced at $1,000. That was the beginning of Raj Bhog, a restaurant in Malleswaram, Bangalore, which opened on December 14 and became the first to offer a dosa topped with gold leaf. Priced at Rs 1,011, the dosa is roasted crisp with a generous squirt of olive oil, filled with aloo masala and topped with a square sheet of the thinnest gold. "We serve it on a silver plate, with tender coconut water to sip along with it," says 24-year-old Chandan Lokesh, who owns Raj Bhog and is trying to use his "invention" to differentiate the restaurant from the competition.
Gold leaf is widely used to add bling to Indian sweets and occasionally, to decorate biryani, but Lokesh says no one has thought of using it on a dosa, south India's favourite fast food. "It is not just for decoration. Gold is good for health when consumed in small quantities. We source the foil, which costs about Rs 560 per sheet, from Gujarat and it is 100 per cent vegetarian," Lokesh says. The restaurant also serves a dosa decorated with silver foil, priced at Rs 151.
Housed in a new building on Margosa Road in one of the city's traditional neighbourhoods, Raj Bhog looks like any other mid-range multicuisine restaurant. Shankar Pujari, a chef from Mangalore, mans the dosa counters on the ground floor that serve up 101 different dosas--from mushroom-and-cheese-filled to chocolate-and-pastry-topped. The upper floor, with brown furniture and golden drapes, is meant to be a fine dining space serving north Indian and Chinese cuisine, Lokesh says. "The dosas have quickly become popular but what we are really interested in is fine dining," he says.