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Makkah Halal (Indian) – report

I’ve now been to this restaurant twice. The first time we tried the buffet, and the second time we ordered off the menu. The daily buffet is $9.95 and has a nice variety; however it’s nothing startling in originality or in spiciness.

We returned a couple weeks later for dinner. We also brought a bottle of wine and our own opener. They supplied glasses, and they only asked that we keep the bottle (already in a paper bag) down on the seat rather than out on the table. There’s no corkage.

We ordered the lamb vindaloo, the mushroom bhajee and the “fried rice” which is basically their biryani without meat. (Nothing to do with the Chinese dish.) By mistake, we were brought chicken biryani instead, which we didn’t realize till we started eating it. It was very good and there was a lot of chicken in it. Some Indian places have a poor ratio of meat to rice in their biryanis, but not here. However when we mentioned we had actually ordered the fried rice, they adjusted our bill accordingly.

The mushroom dish was wonderful -- pure succulently spiced mushrooms and nothing else to detract. It’s a more dry than sauced. The lamb vindaloo was also very good. The meat was very lean, but somewhat tough so maybe overcooked. I like that sort of sinewy crunchiness I sometimes experience when biting into lamb, but this didn’t quite have that either. The potato that was cooked with it however was undercooked and hard. We ordered both these dishes as “spicy”, and that we got. So the flavor was definitely there. We also ordered two plain naan. Their naan must be huge because the basket was overflowing, so next time we know one order is enough for two people. The service is casual, but friendly. They must do a lot of takeout, judging from the delivery people constantly going in and out.

We had a good appetite but couldn’t finish the 3 dishes, so they boxed up the rest for us. I just finished the leftovers before writing this and must say on reflection that they tasted as good or maybe even better after a few days. Nothing upscale or creative going on here, just traditional cooking. But what really makes it a place worth returning to for us, is mostly the BYO factor. I quite look forward to trying their other dishes—they have quite an extensive fish and shrimp menu of dishes besides chicken and lamb. The only thing is I’m wondering is whether the turnover in seafood orders is high enough to ensure fresh product here.

Halal Tandoori
401 So Vermont Ave.

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  1. I'm not sure about the seafood turnover either, but I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to try a dish and see how it was. We also had the chicken biryani, which I liked. I think we ordered lamb tikka masala and ended up with chicken, so it's probably worth double-checking your order, it seems. But I like this place too, at least more than Agra or Electric Lotus.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chowpatty

      I've been ordering from them for years. Part of the reason we do is actually because the seafood has always been high quality. The Shrimp Tikka Masala is to die for. seriously.

    2. Given that they advertise themselves as a halal restaurant, I must say they are being extremely generous and accomodating in allowing you to bring wine to the restaurant.

      Fried rice is not biryani without the meat (at least it shouldn't be). It is an Indian version of Chinese fried rice, but with no egg, seasoned with whole cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and cassia leaves, raisins and cashews and may include vegetables like peas, carrots and green beans.

      1. We asked on our first visit whether it was permissible to bring our own wine and they said yes, so we didn't mind at all their request to keep it somewhat sub rosa.

        Interesting. The chicken biryani we got was seasoned exactly as you described above, but had no vegetables. Whatever it was, it was excellent.

        2 Replies
        1. re: tarabell

          Tarabell, for the "real" Chicken Biryani, I would highly recommend:

          Shan in Artesia and Clay Oven in Sherman Oaks.

          I haven't visited Al-Noor or Al-Watan, so I do need to increase my sample size, but M.Halal is surprisingly not quite great when it comes to their rice dishes. Also this may help:

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/81506...

          1. re: losfelizhound

            I suppose I should give Shan a try. I've read several bad reviews of Shan so I've always gone elsewhere when in Artesia's Little India.

            I would suggest that you try Al-Noor and Al-Watan, I find both to be good but not great Pakistani chow. I also liked Shanawaz for good chow with graceful service the one time that I went and had the Jalapeno Curry as suggested by J. Gold.

            None of these places, or those mentioned above approach the 'extreme deliciousness' of Lahore Karahi and several other well known places in San Francisco's TandoorLoin!

        2. I cannot get an accurate phone number for Halal Tandoori or even the meat market....
          Does anybody have a working phone number? Thank so very much in advance!

          1. Is this the one you tried?
            Halal Tandoori
            401 S. Vermont Ave.
            (213) 383-9976

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chowpatty

              Yes, and get a fast, weird recording, that then goes into bleeps. I also called information, and was told no listing for restaurant or meat market. Very weird.
              Maybe will have to do a drive by, but it is not in my neighborhood, but on the way home from work for my SO, and thought it could be wonderful for takeout!

            2. It works fine when I try it. They also deliver.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Chowpatty

                Chowpatty, forgive me. I was transposing numbers and did it several times! Are my eyes getting as bad as my ears? Thank you so very much for helping me! I look forward to a take out order, I live too far for delivery! Just called and asked to have a menu faxed, as there appears to be no website and are not on menupages.com.
                Again, thank you!!!!!!

                  1. re: weebie

                    Note that the lunch buffet is is up in price a couple of bucks, now $9.95.

                    1. re: sel

                      Thanks! This is most convenient for take out for us, on the way home from work for SO! Going to order very soon!

              2. Definitely a favorite of mine. Coming from NYC, it took me some time to find a good Indian spot in LA, but this fits the bill for sure. There's a good write up and some pics at http://thefoodinista.com which admirably captures their Sag Paneer in all its glory.

                1. I decided to try out this place after seeing so many positives here and not quite wanting to drive to Artesia.

                  I arrived and decided on Chicken Tikka Masala (I know, but I still love it and use it as a gauge for Indian/Pakistani restaurants) and garlic naan. It took a while and I actually had to summon the waiter to take my order. He gave me a shocked look when I told him I didn't want rice. The food arrived and I dug in b/c I was hungry! The garlic naan was nice and not too doughy and not crisp, but was lacking in much garlic flavor. The CTM tasted like it was made with a can of tomato sauce. The chicken was pretty good, so I can't complain about that. But this tasted like something I would make at home with some pre-made jar of sauce.

                  I was rather hopeful for this place, but left rather disappointed. Also, it took a while and i actually had to summon the waiter to get my check, and it took a little while to get my change. And no it wasn't busy - there was one other table there. So all in all, I think Al-Watan and Al-Noor are WAY better than this place, and those two are good but not great.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: mdpilam

                    Al-Watan and Al-Noor are about the best i know, so pray tell what IS great ? thanks

                    1. re: gore_mutt

                      The India Restaurant in Artesia is great. Not Pakistani though, but it is great Indian food and has a great buffet.

                      I moved down here from the Bay Area two yrs ago, and the Indian/Pakistani food isn't quite as good as it is up there (in my experience).

                      1. re: mdpilam

                        thanks- i'm on my way. i had declined to eat there as i am not generally a fan of buffets. guess it was my loss. btw- re: bay area, one of our favorites is a Hyderabad in palo alto. just walked in off the street one day and now we go back whenever we are visiting family there

                  2. The name "Halal" implies a Muslim restaurant. I think we have to be somewhat sensitive to Muslims not consuming alcohol. Personally, I think it's not being very sensitive to the other customers who may be Muslims and the owners as well. Just a personal opinion.