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Feb 13, 2008 08:57 PM

Heart of India Cafe -- Noxious

Living in Sherman Oaks means that I have to suffer the dearth of good Indian restaurants. The best I have found so far is Taj Mahal (yes, I know people have different opinions, but I enjoy it). Monday, unfortunately, Taj Mahal was closed and, in any event, I was workng on an all-night project so delivery was my only option. Checking around, I found a recently delivered menu for Heart of India Cafe on Sepulveda, which has taken over the old Tufaan space.

I will admit that I was disappointed when Tufaan closed. It was overpriced, but some of their dishes were fantastic and far more interesting than most of the Indian restaurants in the area. The menu for Heart of India appeared less exotic, but it did have several mutton dishes on the menu that excited me. I hoped some of the better parts of Tufaan would rub off.

Not by a longshot.

The order was pretty simple -- mutton tikka masala, veggie curry, fish tikka, meat samosa and two types of naan. In ordering, I asked two questions. First, because I had once received incredibly oily takeout from Tufaan, I asked if they could use less ghee in the dishes. Second, I asked if the mutton had bones, because sometimes mutton curry has almost no meat at all. I was assured the pieces were boneless.

After a delivery delay because the restaurant wrote down the wrong address, the food finally arrived. I was almost immediatedly disappointed, because the onion kulcha looked soggy with bits of seemingly boiled onions pressed into the dough.

I tried the samosa first -- and nearly broke a tooth. No, I'm not kidding. The outside was rock hard. Inside, were bits of something brown that had the consistency of bone. At that point, I did something I've never done before. I called a restaurant where I had ordered delivery and asked them to replace an item. To their credit, they did. However, the replacement samosa, while at least capable of being eaten, was rather tasteless.

That, unfortuantely, was also the case for the fish tikka and the veggie curry. Neither had any flavor. The curry sauce for the veggie curry was also extremely watery. And the spicincess which was supposed to be "very, very spicy" and not the "American idea of spicy" just wasn't there.

And, alas, the mutton tikka masala. The first piece I tried was a one-inch bone with a little meat on it. The second piece was a blob of fat. The next two pieces repeated the first two. After that, I gave up.

Which is exactly what I plan to do with Heart of India Cafe. When they brought the replacement samosa, they gave me a $5 off coupon. I don't think there is any chance I will ever use it.

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  1. I like Clay Oven in Sherman Oaks--esp. the lunch buffet. It's the only buffet I like. I don't know about their fish or mutton, but the chicken and vegetable dishes are generally very tasty. My all-time favorite potato dish was one I had at their buffet, but I don't know what it's called. The sagh paneer is very good.

    Also, Lal Mirch in Studio City has the best Chicken Tikka Masala I've ever tasted. Their masala sauce is spicier than most, and the chicken is always impeccable. Their vegetable dishes aren't quite as good as Clay Oven, IMO. Too far to deliver to you, but you could drive there in a few minutes.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. I went to this place a few weeks ago with some friends that live in the area. We decided to go there since we used to go to the old place tufaan. We ordered the basics chicken tikka masala, curried veggies, tandoori chicken, fish curry, mutton korma, samosa and garlic naan.

        First of all 1 guy was glued to the tv watching cricket, another was talking on his cell phone and the other guy laying down on the bench seat. After a few moments they noticed us and escorted us to our table.

        I second the samosa being hard as a rock. My girlfriend was tapping on it with her fork. I finally broke into it was the potato was still cold. I asked them if they could replace it. The replacement was absolutely the same so we didn't eat it.

        Our Naan bread came out which was really good. Fluffy and tons of garlic. The chicken tikka masala was a bit sweet and bland as we ordered everything spicy. The curried veggies was quite good. We had no complaints with this! I recommend this one! The fish curry was very runny, bland and had no spice what so ever. Next was the mutton korma, the korma gravy was quite good, but it only contained 5 pieces of meat with globs of fat. The tandoori chicken came out on a hot plate the looked awesome, but the pieces were dried out. I think these are pre-cooked then thrown i the microwave.

        Over i give the place a c-. The staff wasn't up to par, they seemed to be more interested with their cricket match and cell phones. The food is average, could be spicier and less bland. Atmosphere was nice, but a little too dark. Their wine selection is way overpriced for what they have.

        We haven't tried the lunch buffet, but from the other reviews it sounds a lot better than the dinner items. We definately won't be back there for dinner, but we'll give lunch a shot.

        If you guys are reading these reviews please take notes. This place has potential, but I must have gone on the wrong day. GOOD LUCK GUY!

        1 Reply
        1. re: foodie818

          So if I ever go, I'm just ordering naan and Curried veggies.

        2. Whenever there's a post about Indian food in the SFV, I always have to remind anyone about Salomi on Lankershim in North Hollywood ... just about my favorite Indian food in LA. (And as I always point out, it was George Harrison's as well).

          Salomi Indian & Bangladesh Restaurant
          5225 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601

          3 Replies
          1. re: maxzook

            I used to live about a mile away. (moved to Rancho Cucamonga) Always had a great meal there.

            1. re: maxzook

              ISnt't there another Salomi in Encino or Tarzana?

              When I want good Indian, I drive to Woodlands in Chatsworth, or Gungadin in Studio City.

              1. re: Diana

                Now that you mention it ...

                Salomi Indian & Bangladesh Restaurant
                17209 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA