Indian restaurant faces backlash for listing dosa as ‘naked crepe’


On Saturday, Twitter users spotted a menu from an Indian restaurant that raised eyebrows. Instead of labeling the popular South Indian street food as dosa, US-based Indian Crepe Co. listed it as “naked crepe” on its delivery platforms. Other menu items were similarly rebranded: mango lassi was advertised as “Churned Mango Yogurt Smoothie,” and idli, a savory rice cake, was named “Dunked Donut Delight.” Dozens of Twitter users expressed their shock at the menu.

This isn’t the first company to simplify dish names to appeal to a wider audience. 50 years ago, Joyce Chen coined the term “Beijing ravioli” to get Americans to eat Chinese dumplings. Turkish restaurants often call a pide a “Turkish pizza” instead of having to explain it to diners. Names and descriptions help guide guests through a menu and can serve as a first introduction to unfamiliar cultures and cuisines. However, as Twitter users pointed out, such naming can lead to inaccurate depictions of kitchens.

Nik Sharma, a Los Angeles-based cookbook author and Mumbai immigrant, says he understands the pressure to reach a wider audience through his own experiences writing about general cooking. “I understand the idea of ​​using a Western dish as an explanation of what people should expect,” he says.

At the same time, he says, restaurants are doing a disservice to eaters who want to learn the proper names of traditional dishes. It’s problematic when companies “generalize, assuming audiences aren’t smart enough to understand something,” Sharma adds.

The names weren’t the only thing that irked Twitter users. Some also expressed frustration with what they are considering the company’s exorbitant price for dosa, which sells for less than a dollar in parts of India. Though this surcharge angered some users, Sharma says Indian restaurants have an unfair expectation of being good value.

The picture is complicated by the fact that Indian Crepe Co. sells food at higher prices than the restaurants it serves. This makes Indian Crepe Co. a virtual restaurant: a delivery-only concept that needs to differentiate its menu from the traditional restaurant for apps like Grubhub to recognize it, according to Liza Dee, Policy Communications Manager at Grubhub.

Bigsuchir Restaurant & Banquet, based in Downers Grove, Illinois, charges $7.99 for a “plain dosa” on its own Grubhub page. In contrast, Indian Crepe Co., which operates at the same location as Bigsuchir, charges $11.35 for a “naked crepe.” When asked about its naming practices and pricing strategies, Indian Crepe Co. declined to comment.

Instead of naming it “Naked Dosa,” Sharma says the restaurant could have made a quick change to put the dish in context for a wider audience. “Just lead with masala and just describe it like a savory crepe,” he says. “But at the end of the day it’s not even a crepe because the crepe is very thin and not crispy. And a dosa is very crispy.” Indian restaurant faces backlash for listing dosa as ‘naked crepe’

Chris Estrada

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