Bawarchi Cements Culver City as Best Place For Indian Food in L.A.


Ask for the best Chinese food in Los Angeles?  People will tell you that you have to drive East into San Gabriel Valley.  Vietnamese?  It’s south to Westminster you go.  Japanese?  Torrence.  Filipino? Artesia.  Fans of Thai and Korean food (aka Me) are lucky.  Those two can be found within the Midtown Lunch boundaries, just West of Downtown.  But what about Indian food?  Well, for that, I’m starting to think that Culver City is the place to be. Sure, many of the restaurants are vegetarian only.  But the food is so good, so flavorful, and so uniquely Indian (forget everything you know about chicken tikka masala) that it’s easy to forget there’s no meat.

This realization didn’t happen all at once.  When I first moved to Culver City I tried India Sweets and Spices, and was super surprised by how good it was (jackfruit is not very common in New York City.)  Things got even better at Samosa House and Samosa House East. Same basic concept, but with tastier food (fake chicken and paneer FTW!) Mayura is great if you want an all you can eat lunch buffet (and meat), and I’ve heard Annapurna is good for dosas and other south Indian delights- but Bawarchi might just be the best of them all.

Bawarchi means “The Chef” and it’s a fitting name because the chef is the focus of this place. His cartoon face is on the sign, his name is the one the wall, and most of the time it’s him behind the counter dishing out the food in his chef’s whites. It might seen like a gimmick at first, but once you try a bite of the food you know this guy is for real. (You can read more about him here.)


Bawarchi is a similar steam table set up to Samosa House or India Sweets and Spices, but there are seemingly infinite more options.


$8 gets you any three dishes on the steam table plus rice (plain basmati or veggie), bread (garlic naan, regular naan or wheat roti), raita (yogurt), a small salad and pappadum (Indian cracker). It’s a ton of food.


The most amazing thing is how different each of the almost 20 dishes are. Despite being pre-made, each dish tastes intensely fresh and flavorful. Very few are extremely spicy, but if you want it hot just ask and he’ll let you know which ones to choose. There’s pakora curry (my personal favorite), two kinds of saag (spinach), a number of different daal (chickpea and lentil), paneer (cheese) and jackfruit- which lives somewhere in the middle of artichoke, pumpkin and yucca (their version is great.)


For those who like fake meat, skip the meatballs (they have a weird consistency) and go for the fake chicken. Bawarchi molds the chicken around a stick into a drumstick shape, and the sauce changes every day. It’s super tasty and fun! The fake fish, if they have it, also has a good consistency although I’m not sure what makes it “fishy”. If you have ever had Taiwanese tianbula (fish cake), it will seem vaguely familiar.


Ask for the spiciest dish and The Chef will give you his unique version of mirch ka salaan, a fragrant and spicy curry made with whole stewed green chilies. It’s not ridiculously hot, but it’s up there- and a must order for any fans of whole chilies.


There’s more to get than just the $8 lunch special. The pakoras, which can be ordered individually for $2 or mixed for just $4, are all great (especially the spinach one)


And there are a good number of super cheap ($3) chaats (Indian street food). I tried the bhel puri, which looks deceptively plain. Even without the yogurt, and the two chutneys it was amazingly well spiced, and had chickpeans and little chunks of potato scattered in with the little crunchy bits. Way better than the versions served at Samosa House and Indian Sweets. I’ve also heard their pani puri (the little puffy discs, covered in spiced water) is great.


If you’re into roti, a piece of paper taped to the glass advertises a brand new “Punjabi Massi Roti” (a chickpea flour roti), which I was told by a group on Indian guys in line is one of the best things at Bawarchi. Sadly they didn’t have it yesterday so I settled for the makki di roti w/ saag (spinach). I’ve never had this dish before, so I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be like- but to most people I think the corn flour pancakes will seem a bit too dry. The saag definitely helped a little, but I probably wouldn’t get it again.


The roti w/ saag is $6 on its own, or for $8 you can get it with yogurt, butter for the roti, and a salt lassi. The yogurt and butter is kind of essential, but the salt lassi is most definitely an acquired taste. Just imagine a watered down raita (Indian yogurt) with a ton of salt and you get the idea. It didn’t necessarily taste bad, but it will definitely be a shock for those used to the typically sweet mango lassis.

Speaking of mango lassis, though, Bawarchi’s version is one of the best you’ll ever have. If you’re a fan, make sure to try it.

I also wanted to try the biryani, but unfortunately they only carry that during dinner.

Interestingly enough, the only real downside to Bawarchi is the chef himself. His food might be unbelievably good, but he knows it, and won’t hesitate to get frustrated or angry at a customer that doesn’t seem to appreciate how much effort goes into make all of these amazing dishes. It also doesn’t help that his accent is super thick, and he’s not overly eager to dumb things down. Of course one bite of the food, and it all becomes worth it. And once you become a regular he starts to warm a little bit… although you still live in constant fear of him one day shouting “No Soup For You” and that being the end of it. Then again, that’s part of the charm.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place will say)

  • Some of the most flavorful Indian food in all of Los Angeles
  • There are almost 20 items to choose from
  • Everything is made by somebody who takes his role as chef extremely seriously
  • $8 gets you a ton of food
  • I’m Vegetarian/Vegan.  This is very exciting!
  • I love how they mold the fake chicken into drumsticks

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place will say)

  • The Chef is a no-nonsense kind of guy (some would say mean)
  • The service can be surprisingly slow for a steam table joint, even when there is little or no line.  I’d hate to see the place if there were 4 or 5 people in there at once.
  • Sometimes the naan is kind of stale (and the food in the steam table is not piping hot)
  • Where’s the beef!?

Bawarchi, 10408 Venice Blvd (at Motor), 310-836-8525



  • Awesome review. I’ve had their $8 special maybe 10 times, but have never ventured to other parts of the menu. I always get the jackfruit, one of the spicy dishes (usually the stewed chilies), and try something new with the third.

    Maybe I’ll try the chaats or pakoras, but whenever I’m there, I just try to get out as quickly as possible in case the chef has a mood swing. It may be the only place in LA at the moment where I’m willing to put up with terrible service or even verbal abuse for amazing food.

  • LOVE THIS PLACE. The chef’s always been nice to me but mostly because I tell him to give me whatever’s good. I tell him I love good indian food and he seems to reciprocate though I wouldn’t say his manner is “warm” in any way. The food is fantastic though.

    I think it’s funny that you put “I’m a Vegetarian/Vegan. This is very exciting!” in the “Negative” section lol

  • Crap. Now I’m craving Bawarchi and trying to figure out if I can get there and back on my lunch break.

  • I ate there again just a week or two ago and the chef was in “fine form.” The guy in line ahead of us asked to order chicken and the chef pointed to the sign where it said something like “Go Veggie, Go Green” and said “Sir, did you not read the sign. This is a vegetarian restaurant.” The customer was flustered and confused and then pointed to one of the curries and said he’d have that chicken curry. I thought the chef was going to lose his shit. The poor customer just got his food to go and fled as soon as he could.

    Our meal was tasty but I wish that (1) chef would get better people skills and (2) could move the line faster. It moves at a glacial pace. The chef seemed to get the customer service thing part right by telling each customer he hoped they enjoy their delicious meal, but doesn’t have the make people comfortable part down.

  • Though I’m will to bet “they” don’t mold their chicken around a bamboo stick –my money is on a factory worker in Taiwan– I’ve yet to try a vegetarian Indian mock meat dish yet! Vegetarian Indian is so well done that it really doesn’t need the fake stuff, but this is exciting nonetheless.

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    They now have non-veggie items. The lunch special is three items $10 for veggie, $12 with meat. Very tasty, but as mentioned above, not a place to go when you’re in a hurry. The service is SLOW!

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