Indian Buffet Battle: Annapurna Doesn’t Need Meat to Dispatch Mayura


So many great food neighborhoods in Los Angeles have become better known by the food they sell, than anything else. You’ve got Chinatown, Thai Town, Koreatown, Little Tokyo… I could keep going. And I’m starting to think that we should lobby to have the stretch of Venice and Washington between the 405 and Sepulveda renamed Little Kashmir. Seriously, if you love amazing Indian or Pakistani food, you’re vegetarian (or not) there is no better place to go in all of Southern California. Bawarchi, with it’s intensely proud chef, edges out the always solid Samosa House, Samosa House East and India Sweets and Spices for vegetarian steam table supremacy. The completely off the beaten path, open during weird times, Zam Zam Market makes the best biryani and tandoori chicken I have ever tasted. And all you can eat buffets? Mayura has you covered with a decent $10 buffet that rocks a good mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.

But after trying Annapurna’s lunchtime buffet (a few blocks east on Venice), Mayura will likely be relegated to a dinner time only spot.


Unlike Mayura, which specializes in Kerala cuisine and has meat and vegetarian options, Annapurna is strictly vegetarian. Normally for a meat lover like myself that would be a huge disadvantage (aka bring on the lamb!) But Annapurna takes such great care with the vegetarian dishes they serve, you don’t even miss the meat.


For my first trip up I tried to get a little bit of everything (Buffet Eating 101). On the day I was there they had dal, rasam (a South Indian sour and spicy soup), gobi mutter masala (green beans cooked in a tomato gravy), a vegetable curry dish, and palak pakora- delicious deep fried spinach fritters that were surprisingly good for being out on a buffet.  But the best dish by far was the plantain poriyal, a dish of fried savory plantains mixed with lentils and spices.  It’s something I’ve never had before, and it was awesome.


For my second visit on loaded up on the plantains and pakoras, with a little bit of the masala and the vegetable curry dish for good measure. Everything had great flavors, and they don’t hold back on the spice.


The big surprise was the freshly made masala dosa they brought out between plate number one and plate number two. They do that at Mayura as well, but this version blew that version out of the water. There was a part of me that was like… they’re just doing this to fill me up aren’t they!? But considering how great it was, it was hard to be mad.


I couldn’t help but finish off the meal with a bit of galab jamun. The fried donuts in syrup have become a fairly standard dessert on Indian buffets, but these might have been the best version I’ve ever had from an all you can eat buffet. They were soft, super warm, and so easy to eat (sometimes they’re so hard) I went up for seconds. Oh, and a tip? The white stuff next to it is not kheer (Indian rice pudding.) It’s yogurt… and not for dessert. (Whoops!)

Part of me is super psyched to have so much great Indian food in Culver City (and so many different styles!) On the other hand it makes it so much harder to decide which place to go to. But one decision that can be made with ease is where to buffet it up. Mayura might be great for a Kerala dinner, but for all you can eat action, Annapurna is King.

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

  • $8.95 all you can eat! Where do I sign up?
  • I’m a Vegetarian who loves to stuff my face
  • All the dishes are so flavorful, and they don’t hold back on the spice
  • The buffet comes with a freshly made, and perfectly cooked, masala dosa!?  Amazing

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

  • Where’s the beef?!
  • A bit too spicy for me… I like my Indian food a bit more mild.
  • I didn’t recognize any of the dishes… too weird.
  • I don’t like all you can eat. Would rather save a buck or two and get my food made fresh

Annapurna, 10200 Venice Blvd, 310-204-5500



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    I’ve been looking for an Indian place that’s a bit more spicy. Wish I worked in Culver City so I could check out the buffet.

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    Annapurna rules! I’ve been wondering a lot about Lawrence of India, which recently reopened not too far away from a chef who used to work with Paul Bhalla. I keep meaning to go, but like you’ve said, choosing between Samosa House, Annapurna, and Mayura have made the decision process complicated. Can’t wait to try Zam Zam now.

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