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Jun 24, 2007 08:01 PM

India Sweets & Spices in Glendale NEVER AGAIN

I just returned home from my fourth and final attempt to understand why people like India Sweets and Spices. I love south Indian food, and I've eaten excellent masala dosa from Berkeley to Fremont to Chatsworth to Artesia. I just don't understand what they are doing at India Sweets & Spices to ruin one of the world's greatest snacks. Tonight my husband and I were craving dosa but didn't want to drive all the way to Chatsworth from Silverlake, so we decided to give IS&S one more try. The last time we were there are dal was cold and our poori tasted like they had been in the fridge for a week and I swore I would never go back.

I ordered the Masala dosa and he got the Mysore dosa and they were both borderline inedible. The dosa itself was thin and greasy, the dal was incredibly salty, the red condiment was basically Heinz 57 with some curry powder. The coconut chutney was really chalky.

And, even though there were only three other people there, when our dosas came up, the women behind the counter let them sit there for way too long before they ladled out our dal, chutney,etc. so that by the time we actually got them they were totally soggy.

Believe, it's worth the drive to Chatsworth for Woodlands or to Artesia for Udupi. India Sweets and Spices is really terrible.

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  1. Have you been to Paru's (on Sunset near Normandie, across from Zankou)? I like it pretty well, though haven't tried either of the places you mentioned. I've heard it's more expensive than some of the places further east, but I like the food, and the people there are super nice.

    I don't remember being too impressed by India Sweets and Spices either (the one in Atwater).

    1 Reply
    1. re: will47

      Uh, I think we're comparing apples and oranges here. Paru's is great, but it's more of a dining experience whereas ISS is more like fast food. Interesting because if you actually went to India, you're more likely to see places like ISS. I think ISS is great when you want Indian food fast and cheap, for a time I was rather disappointed that the only Indian food to be found around here is upscale.

    2. I wouldn't write off all IS&S outlets if I were you. It's a shame that you've had a rotten experience at the one in Glendale but there are definitely other branches that are awesome. The one in Reseda on Parthenia is absolutely wonderful. If you find yourself in Reseda some time, definitely try it out. The people are very friendly and the food is always prepared hot and never soggy.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Erika RollerGirl

        And the one on Topanga Canyon and Sherman Way is much better -- the one in Los Feliz is just absolutely a hellhole, and the one on Venice Blvd. in Culver City is sliding downhill fast -- I won't be returning to that one.

        Honestly, though, to the OP, I don't know what you're expecting. IS&S is a cheap dive, akin to Filipino turo-turo places, where you point and shoot and it's ladled out from steam trays, with a couple of things made to order. If you want a fancy sit-down place, there are absolutely plenty of those, and they often have better food, but once you're done tipping and paying for the linens and whatnot it's four or five times the price you'd pay at IS&S.

        IS&S is what it is... the masala dosa at the Canoga Park is usually above reproach, sounds like you had a bad experience at Los Feliz. But when I can get enough food (to go -- I can't imagine wanting to eat at those horrendous tables under the glaring fluorescent lights) to feed eight people for $20, that itself repairs a multitude of sins that, were I in a fancy sit-down linen-napkin place, up with which I would not put.

        It's funny -- you can hardly get upscale Mexican in this town despite the huge numbers of Mexican emigrés, yet when it comes to Indians, there are barely any low-end places.

        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          Are you sure the India Sweets & Spices on Venice in Culver City is under the same management? As far as I know, the family that runs the ISS in Culver City has only one grocery store/food counter.

          I went to ISS in Glendale only once and was completely put off by the hospital cafetaria like ambience and service (made even worse by a blaring television in the middle of the room). And the food wasn't good enough to trump over the indifferent service and ambience. By the way, I think ISS in Culver City is superior to the one in Glendale.

          Fromberkeleytolosangeles: There is a very clear explanation for why ISS in Glendale makes mediocre dosas - the place is run by a Punjabi family, and dosa is South Indian food. If you want good dosas you should go to a South Indian speciality restuarant.

          There are a few of those in LA, including Paru's (not a personal favourite, the dosas are a tad greasy), Annapurna in Culver City (pretty good dosas, though the masala filling can be bland at times), and Tirupati Bhimas in Artesia (haven't tried their dosas yet, but their thali is not bad). I personally don't like Udupi so much, and I haven't tried Woodlands yet.

          1. re: anthead

            I go to the ISS on Los Feliz and the one on Sherman Way for pretty good and very cheap Indian veg chow. The " cafetaria like ambience and service (made even worse by a blaring television in the middle of the room)" does not concern me. I don't go to ISS for a quiet fine dining experience just the pretty good, sometimes great grub! Yes it is sometimes noisy with mostly Indian families and the Bollywood movies but that is what it is.

            I don't order dosas at ISS, they are great at both locations of Woodlands and very reasonable on their all you can eat dosa nights where you get them fresh and hot from the kitchen until you cry 'no more, thanks!' It includes the buffet as well and it is $9.95 if memory serves. One of the best bargains around!

            Back to ISS, Veg Samosas and Aloo Tikki are both very good, and the Lunch Specials from the steam table are pretty good. The steam table items available change constantly and for $4 you get a basic meal, for $5 add Veg Samosas/Pakoras and for $6 add a sweet.

            I also love the thali at Tirupati Bhimas in Artesia (and Milpitas) and thought Udupi Palace was just ok. Recently I tried Rasrag in Artesia and had a great feast.

            1. re: sel

              I agree -- there's not too many places you can get such an extensive meal for $5, and I find the quality good 80% of the time, a little less good the rest. Sometimes their dosas are quite good, other times greasy, so I usually stick to the steam table items. For me it's mostly an excuse to buy some Indian desserts as I love burfi, rasmallai and kulfi.

              1. re: sel

                To reply to this...

                I didn't find much to like at IS&S Los Feliz.

                The pani puri was acceptable but completely outclassed by the ones I got at the hyderabad mall.

                The other curry-like dish we had was borderline inedible.

                The garlic naan tasted worse than microwave naan - garlic naan from the frozen section of TJ's far superior.

                Samosas were typical and did not come with the mint chutney type sauce.

                I'll come back for the pani puri cuz I got no other option, but there's not much else that I found likable here.

              2. re: anthead

                i like the blaring teleision there. especially when i don't realize that i'm dancing along to the music while i eat until my girlfriend asks me to stop because she's embarassed. sometimes the food is mediocre here, sometimes it's great. i'm willing to take that gamble if i'm only spending $5.99 on a giant meal.

                1. re: anthead

                  The dosas at Tirupati Bhimas were very good the one time I went.

                  1. re: anthead

                    Goodness, if ISS in Culver City is "superior" to the one in Glendale, then the one in Glendale must be below the bottom of the pits. The CC one is filthy, their tables and chairs are filthy, with bird droppings, and there's a background smell of garbage. The service there is completely indifferent to rude.

                    1. re: slacker

                      I don't expect any of the ISS to serve me good south Indian dishes. While their snacks are ok, they don't have any South Indian cooks. The one on Parthenia is closest to me and I like the chole battura at the Topanga/Sherman way one. I would never claim that any of them are temples of culinary cleanliness & I use them as grocery stores more than restaurants. For South Indian food not in Artesia, Paru's is good, Woodlands is ok. I find it a little greasy and heavy. My fave place right now is Valley India cafe. I usually order off the menu not the buffet. I like their dosas, porathas & chicken chettinadu. They have a fried chicken appetizer that is absolutely divine.

              3. Haha - to expect good Indian anywhere but India is a rookie mistake - there is nowhere in the West that can duplicate the sweltering, dirty upstairs rooms in the middle of Karol Bagh or highway dhabas that nevertheless somehow conjure magical depth of flavour from mutton that has hung outside in the heat and flies for hours. Ditto to sweets: I've not found a single place outside of India that has been able to reproduce even the sweets at Bikanervala, much less those gems of street vendors that every gastronaut craves.