Dear Mr. Gold:
Could you recommend some great Indian restaurants in Los Angeles that visiting Londoners might like? Anarkali and the Bombay Café are just fine, but they seem a little bland compared to what we’re used to at home. If you have any ideas, preferably near the Westside, they would be much appreciated.
There seems to be Indian food and English Indian food, and they may not always coincide. Mayura for example, near the Sony studios, serves delicious Kerala-style dishes, both vegetarian and not, but I suspect that the cooking, spicy though it tends to be, may be a bit delicate for palates trained on Brick Lane. Ambala Dhaba in Westwood, a branch of an Artesia favorite, prepares what they term Mumbai truckstop cooking, which is to say spicy, clear flavors and lots of meat — the goat is especially good. Al-Watan in Hawthorne, just a few minutes south of the airport, serves very, very good Pakistani tandoor-cooked meats along with great nehari, brains masala and haleem, although you have to keep in mind that the owners and clientele are strict Muslims, which means a sink in the dining room but no alcohol, etc.
Tanzore, on La Cienega, is known for a brand of lightened fusion Indian cuisine that may be familiar from London, very Bollywood. Nirvana in Beverly Hills features beds in the bar, but also the focused cuisine of a chef recently lured from a well-known hotel kitchen in New Delhi. But you you might as well go to Agra Café in Silver Lake, a strip-mall restaurant that actually specializes in English-style Indian food, the punishingly spicy fish baltis, vindaloos and chicken samosas that sear the gullets of your countrymen.
AGRA CAFÉ: 4325 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. (323) 665-7818.