Dear Mr. Gold:
Could you recommend some great Indian restaurants in Los Angeles that visiting Londoners might like? Anarkali and the Bombay Cafe 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.
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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 in 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 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 feature beds in the bar, but also the focused cuisine of a chef recently lured from a well-known hotel kitchen in New Dehli. 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.