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Feb 28, 2007 12:16 PM

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:

          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!