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Southern indian food in LA?

ns1 Jan 29, 2008 02:56 PM

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.

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    aventinus RE: ns1 Jan 29, 2008 04:07 PM

    not that i have found. annapurna on venice blvd is often considered the best. i think it sucks. probably the worst dosas i've ever had--bland, dough, soggy.

    2 Replies
    1. re: aventinus
      mungus RE: aventinus Jan 29, 2008 04:51 PM

      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).

      1. re: mungus
        aventinus RE: mungus Jan 29, 2008 07:02 PM

        You know, I had good past experiences at Annapurna also.

    2. n
      ns1 RE: ns1 Jan 29, 2008 04:54 PM

      yah I'm looking for dosas primarily. I'm in DTLA, so if I have to drive to the westside to get crappy dosas, I might as well drive to Cerritos.

      9 Replies
      1. re: ns1
        losfelizhound RE: ns1 Jan 29, 2008 09:22 PM

        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 :)

        1. re: losfelizhound
          mlgb RE: losfelizhound Jan 30, 2008 04:52 AM

          Woodlands lunch buffet offers the Rasa Vada and the kootu as well as all you care to eat dosas. Not a bad deal at all. I can't imagine that it's easier to get to west LA from Downtown than it is to get to Artesia. Just go the 5 to the 605.

          1. re: losfelizhound
            ns1 RE: losfelizhound Jan 30, 2008 07:32 AM

            Thanks for the reply. I'm not looking for buffets, just fantastic dosas and chutney (primarily). heck I don't even know what half of those things you just spouted off ARE ;)

            1. re: ns1
              mlgb RE: ns1 Jan 30, 2008 08:25 AM

              The dosas come with the buffet. Their special chutney is a coconut type, very nice.

              1. re: ns1
                losfelizhound RE: ns1 Jan 30, 2008 10:19 AM

                Thanks ns1. BTW, what did you like at India's Flavor in Glendale? I haven't been there, but is close enough (geographically) to warrant my attention.

                1. re: losfelizhound
                  ns1 RE: losfelizhound Jan 30, 2008 10:52 AM

                  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?

                  1. re: ns1
                    losfelizhound RE: ns1 Jan 31, 2008 08:41 AM

                    Thanks ns1 - for that great review. The meat samosas certainly sound delicious (so do some of the other things)! It's certainly on my go-to list :)

                    1. re: losfelizhound
                      ns1 RE: losfelizhound Jan 31, 2008 08:53 AM

                      I would go there just for the meat samosas. If you're close enough, they do takeout also. Hell I think they might even deliver.

                2. re: ns1
                  jlrobe RE: ns1 Feb 1, 2008 08:50 AM

                  Some of the best dosas I have had (berkeley and artesia) were at buffets. Dont let the word buffet fool you. These places were PACKED with vegeterian indian families and I heard nothing but indian being spoken. They both had a list of like 22 different types of dosas.

            2. g
              glutton RE: ns1 Jan 29, 2008 07:54 PM

              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.

              1. choctastic RE: ns1 Jan 31, 2008 08:57 AM

                The best dosas I've had so far were at Dosa Place in Tustin (OC). I guess that's a little far, but I just thought I'd throw that in there in case you're in the area.

                1 Reply
                1. re: choctastic
                  ns1 RE: choctastic Jan 31, 2008 09:04 AM

                  Cool, it's possible. I go home (Santa Ana) every week on Sundays. Thanks for the rec!

                2. cant talk...eating RE: ns1 Dec 1, 2008 04:51 PM

                  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

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