Southern indian food in LA?
I know there's a ton of indian places off the 91 in Artesia, but are there any southern indian restaurants that are CH worthy in LA?
Went to india's flavor last week in Glendale and thought it was great.
The first few times I went to Annapurna, not long after they opened, the dosas were crisp, light and flavorful. The last couple times, less so. Even so, I wouldn't say it was a bad dosa, just not great.
Sometimes Annapurna is superb, sometimes, again, not so much. That's how it often is for inexpensive places that are offshoots. Even for high-end restaurants, consistency can be elusive.
Mayura a couple blocks away, same side of Venice Blvd, is also southern indian, and it used to be owned by or started by some of the Annapurna peeps. It's...okay.
BTW, Chutney's on Barrington and Pico has dosas. Let's just say it's not their strength. Stick with the tandoori chicken (yeah, not southern, but still tasty).
I know the OP would like to find a good South Indian restaurant in LA, but here I offer my rationale for why a trip to Artesia is simply worth the trouble (If you are a fan of Woodlands in Artesia, this is merely more empirical evidence for what you already know).
To begin with, there aren't too many exclusively South Indian restaurants in the city of LA. Once upon a time I had Annapurna, Paru's and Tirupathi Bhimas in my usual rotation, but things got interesting after a trip to Woodlands in December '07.
While all four specialize in South Indian cuisine, I find the menu at Paru's limited - they offer a number of North Indian dishes which I would never order. Their dosas are good but not great. Adding dollops of clarified butter is not the only way to achieving great taste! They also have a distinct Tamil influence which makes their sambar and chutney milder than what I prefer. Tirupathi Bhimas is Andhra-style (spicier than Tamil) and their "Andhra Special Spicy Meal" or "Tiffin" serves some delectable homestyle Andhra curries and vegetables. The dosas are quite good, and the accompaniments (chutney and sambar mainly) are hotter than Paru's. But I don't think it is the go-to place for Dosas in the Southland. I agree with the other posters regarding Annapurna - inconsistency is the name of the game. The batter, crispness and amount of oil varies extensively (and hence I stopped going to Annapurna).
Woodlands has a lunch and dinner buffet (and some AYCE dosa nights too). However, on one visit, I had their lunch buffet that was so terrible that it made me stay away from Woodlands for a very long time. Then one fine day, I got bored of Bhimas and Paru's and decided to give Woodlands one more try (prodding from fellow hounds certainly helped). So while a return visit is due, my sample size of one story goes like this:
Their menu has both Tamil (e.g. Adai) and Andhra (e.g. Pesaratu) dishes - and they do justice to both of them. That evening the food was really fresh (the sambar wasn't churning on the gas forever) and the dosa batter was perfectly sour, the dosa crisp and light on oil. One of my friends (who is from South India) ordered the "Deluxe South Indian Thali" and it had some very traditional servings like Kootu - which he claimed was a very close rendition. We ordered Rasa Vada (lentil dumplings in sour soup). The dumplings were nicely firm and crunchy the soup was perfectly sour and spicy and left that tingling sensation on the tip of my tongue. Yummy. The SO ordered Idly - which was tender but had the right firmness. The sambar and chutney was spicier than Tamil but not as fiery as Andhra can be.
In summary, as I said at the beginning, it's just worth the drive :)
damn, me and the wifey were talking about it for days. The old woman that works there (wife?) is money. VERY nice, functions as a waiter too. Freakin hole in the wall. I'd recommend calling on weekends, as they get packed and is very small. I actually met another guy/family who found the place on chowhound as well.
Anyway, onto your question ;) First time we had indian food together, so we went with a decent safe sample.
- Meat samosas (CH rec)
- tandoori mixed grill (ground lamb, lamb, chicken)
- chicken curry
- garlic naan
- basmati rice with garlic and saffron (i think)
- pistachio ice cream
1. Meat Samosas - Jesus christ, this thing is so tasty it's beyond words. Like, al pastor sopes from king taco tasty. Ground meat wrapped in something like sopes dough mixed with puff pastry. Can't really describe, but holy hell it was tasty. Outside was perfectly crunchy, inside perfectly cooked. Slabbered that chutney all over it and devoured it. 5*
2. Mixed Tandoori Grill - Pretty good. Oddly enough I thought the chicken was the best out of the bunch. Lamb good but I've had better. Very tender. Spiced VERY well, layered on top of onions on a sizzling plate. 4*
3. Curry chicken - I prefer the taste of Japanese curry to the curry they had here. That said, the chicken inside the curry was mind blowing. Think braised short rib tender. The most tender chicken I've ever had in a stew (yes, I'm classifying curry as a stew). 4.5*
4. Garlic Naan - Naan, with garlic and uh parsley or something on top, sorry I don't remember. Oddly enough I watched a special on India later that night on the Discovery channel. The naan looked identical. Very thin, crispy on the bottom, crispy (for the most part) on top with enough softness/texture to give it that extra oomph. Much better than other naan I have had. Would order again. Would order EVERYTIME. 4.7*
5. Basmati Rice - eh, forgettable. Didn't really add anything to the meal, other than giving the curry chicken something to bond with. 2.5*, would not order again
6. Pistachio Ice Cream - Different. Lots and LOTS of pistachio. Not as good as fosselman's though ;)
Anyway, this spot is definitely one of our faves, and we'll probably go here at least once a month.
Total was 55 with 2 drinks post tax pre tip, and we had enough leftover for a good sized dinner the next day. Saw some table drinking wine but didn't see them selling it, so maybe free/low corkage?
I have not had the bad experiences at Annapurna that others have had -- I really like the place. I recognize that not all of their food is quite as good as the top places in Artesia, but I still think it's a good, reliable option.
We just moved nearby, and wandered into Mayura in Culver City last night, seeing they featured food from Kerala. We had a great, truly chow-worthy dinner.
We are not Indian, and by no means expert, but had both sworn off the generic India's Oven/Tandoor/Grill places that litter this city.
First, the place is no-frills. TV w/ videos in the corner, many Indian families and friends groups sitting and eating, empty buffet along the side. But, it had a semi-open kitchen and the place was pretty clean.
Started with chai tea (me), lime soda, and pakoras, which - again, we're not experts, just fans - were the best I've had in L.A. Perfectly done, non-greasy, with super-fresh green (cilantro?) chutney. Couldn't stop eating them.
We had two of the rice-flour-based dishes, dosa with spinach, garlic and mint and potatoes (#44), and "Kerala Special Appam" with chicken curry (#59).
The dosa didn't resemble the photo on their menu, so maybe they changed the recipe/cook, but this is a huge crepe, sort of doused inside with chopped herbs, and folded over a corner of spicy mashed potatoes, served with a creamy coconut-chickpea chutney (had to ask about this one) as well as a dish of stewed eggplant, onion and tomato. The appam was sort of a sweet injera-like sponge-y disk, with whole chicken pieces in a dark, flavorful curry. This wasn't hot-spicy (they probably dialed-back the level for us) but just well-balanced and incredibly flavorful.
Service was attentive and helpful, everything was explained with good humor, and we got out of there for around $30. Life is good.
10406 Venice Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232