I’m not sure if this is a sign of Bistro Laurent’s impending doom, or a brilliant case of two savvy restauranteurs helping each other to survive, but an all you can eat Indian restaurant called Mama’s Indian Kitchen is now sharing the Bistro Laurent space on Sepulveda in Culver City. I suppose it makes sense. Owned by brunch specialist(?) Laurent Triqueneaux, the bistro never seemed to be open for the first half of the week anyway, so why not turn the space over to an Indian buffet concept on the days they’re closed. It’s a fool proof scheme! And the best part is, it’s $9.95 all you can eat lunch and dinner (during the half of the week they’re open.)
Archive for 'Indian'
It looks like Zam Zam Market isn’t the only South Asian restaurant in Culver City with some big news these days. Thanks to this comment we were tipped off to the fact that Bawarchi, the great Vegetarian steam table famously run by a serious “Soup Nazi” Chef of sorts, is now offering meat options on their previously veggie only menu. We have long contended that Culver City has the best Indian food in Los Angeles, and Bawarchi is far and away the best of the point to what you want Vegetarian places that seem to be ubiquitous on Venice and Washington Boulevards these days. The only thing that could make it better? Meat. Or so I thought.
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.
I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since Uncle John’s Ham & Eggs was forced out of their old school diner and into the kind of scary looking Hotel Stillwell (on Grand between 8+9th). The gussied up decor ruins a bit of the charm, but the old hotel more than makes up for whatever “weirdness” they might have lost in the transition. Their Chinese/American diner food mash up is still one of my favorite places to eat in Downtown L.A., but it turns out it’s not the only great lunch to be had in the hotel.
As a big fan of buffets, I couldn’t help but notice the old sandwich board outside the hotel promoting Gill’s Indian Buffet. I don’t usually get turned off by the sketchiness of a lunchtime scene, but the lobby isn’t exactly inviting and the thought of walking into the bowels of an abandoned looking hotel searching for an Indian buffet had horror movie written all over it. But the $7.95 price tag (and my all you can eat loving gut) eventually won and this past Friday I finally gave into the lure of the Stillwell Hotel’s Indian buffet.
Ever since moving to Culver City a year ago, I’ve been working my way up the South Asian food totem pole. I started at India Sweets and Spices, which I thought was pretty amazing- that is until I tried Samosa House and Samosa House East, which were even better. I followed that up with a visit to Mayura’s all you can eat lunch buffet (for those who want meat) and ended up at what I think is the absolute best Indian food steam table on the westside: Bawarchi (and its infamous chef). Regardless of which place is your personal favorite, one thing is now undeniable… the Culver City/Palms area has the best Indian food in all of Los Angeles. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I found out about Zam Zam Market.
Located on Washington Blvd in Culver City, just East of where Washington splits into two different streets, it would be wrong to call Zam Zam a “hidden” gem. I live right around the corner from the place and had seen it a ton of times. The giant “HALAL” sign in the window was particularly intriguing to me (for reasons that should be obvious to anybody who has seen a street food cart in NYC), but the place is never open. And even if it was, looking in the window didn’t exactly inspire confidence. It’s not so much a market as just a giant space with a few half empty shelves, a makeshift cooking area behind a counter, half empty drink fridges in the back, and a few tables that always seem to have chairs stacked on top of them. I’d sooner believe it was a front for the Pakistani mafia, or a place for heroin addicts to crash before I would consider it a viable place to get lunch. That is until Profiled Lunch’er Brandon mentioned that they made the best biryani, tandoori and kebabs “in existence.” This can’t possibly be true.
It was almost exactly 1 year ago this week that I first hit up the India Jones Truck. I was fresh off the boat from NYC, and hungry for a West coast equivalent to my beloved kati roll- a Calcutta street food that is very popular in Midtown Manhattan. I really loved their butter chicken (you might say the secret ingredient is butter) but their frankies and stuffed “paratha” left me a bit disappointed. Admittedly the frankie and kati roll are two completely different treats (the frankie comes from Bombay, and features an egg washed bread) but I was still hoping for something a bit more traditional than the Mexican flour tortilla they were using for both items.
Well, recently I heard an unconfirmed rumor that they may have changed their bread to something a bit more roti-like. Excuse to try the India Jones Truck again? Don’t mind if I do!
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.