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Jun 9, 2008 02:07 AM

Recs for India Sweets & Spices?

Are there any particular dishes one should try at India's Sweets & Spices? I'm assuming that one should stay away from the steam table offerings. And, since I'm near the one in Tustin, I'm also assuming that I might as well stay away from the dosas since I can already find those nearby at Dosa Place.

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  1. I love the steam table offerings. Just avoid if they're close to empty as the salt will concentrate.

    I like most of their chaat, especially the dahi puri.

    I've never been to the one in Tustin -- we go to the one in Canoga Park.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      I thought it was one of those food rules to stay away from steam table food, kinda like don't eat fish at a restaurant on mondays. I'm still new to Indian food, but is there something special about it that makes that food better able to survive the rigors of the steam table? (I'm still so new to Indian food that when I get those Indian lunch specials that comes with the salad and the yogurt, I don't know if that yogurt is supposed to be the sauce for the salad or if you're supposed to eat that yogurt by itself) But, now that I think about it, every Indian place I've tried in the last couple weeks all had steam table food going on.

      1. re: hobbess

        Steam table food, Indian and other types of chow is frequently awful. ISS is not the best Indian food in this region but it's pretty darned good - for the price! It's good for a quick, cheap price and filling meal. There is better but you will pay more.

        As far as how to eat the food, well do what tastes good to you. My best friend who was born and raised in India dumps the Raita (yogurt) over everything. I usually eat it out of the bowl with a spoon although I like it on some hot and spicy dishes. I would suggest that you try ISS and other places rec here and elsewhere and just eat and enjoy!

        1. re: hobbess

          Food rules are mostly crap. "Don't drink red wine with fish," "don't eat from steam tables," "street carts are dirty," all nonsense. Do what you want.

          The rule is to eat what you're comfortable with. Steam tables are not in and of themselves evil; it's just that many of them become an excuse to reheat leftover food, and some are kept at the wrong temperature, which invites disease at some point.

          IS&S, for all that it looks like a fly-by-night operation, is perfectly fine. I have eaten the steam table food at IS&S more than 100 times and about the worst problem I've ever had was some, hm, windy conditions. It's always kept so hot it steams -- not just the water pans underneath but the food itself -- and if the Tustin branch is at all like the Canoga Park branch, there will be a long line for the food (it moves quickly) and thus turnover of the food is not a problem.

          As for the yoghurt, it's not necessarily sauce for the salad; it's there to cool down the spice of some of the hotter dishes. You can eat it with or alongside, up to you.

      2. The 'steam table offerings' can be pretty darn good and the price is so low! About $4 for the basic meal, $5 add Samosas to that and for about $6 you get a sweet as well!

        5 Replies
        1. re: sel

          Ditto. Never been to the Tustin one, but am around the corner from Los Feliz. Look at the "steam table" stuff and see if it looks "tired" or not; if they're doing a fast turn-over while you're there, and it's just come out of the kitchen, it can be pretty good. Same with the dosas; on a good day, they're pretty tasty.

          My thought: go in there, see what looks good, order a dosa. have a lassi and chill for a few minutes, particularly if they've got the TV tuned to Deshi music videos, which bear the same relationship to US music videos that Bollywood flicks do to Hollywood movies.

          It's lunch, or dinner, for $6.00! How bad can it be?

              1. re: sel

                While they're not PER SE OFFICIALLY AYCE, they're certainly all I can eat; since adding extra steam-table items is something like an extra dollar per. (if I'm there with my family the cashier at my branch often actually suggests ways of re-configuring our order and getting more food for the same $; "If you get special #4, and he gets special #3, instead of #2, you give him your galub jamun, and he gives you his samosa and you save a dollar....")

                Whatever criticism there's been of IS&S, "You don't get enough food for your dollar" has NEVER been one I've heard...

              2. re: Diana

                if you want ayce steam tables go to bombay grocery on pch at oak, between narbonne and western.

            1. I've been going to the one in Monrovia for years and have no complaints except they often have peas in their rice and I hate peas. That being said I have had very good stuff from the steam table and I like their dosas. I espcially love the yellow dosa chutney. Creamy and hot! I will order extra just to dip papdam in, like chip & dip.

              1. My faves at the Canoga Park branch are the perfectly spiced samosas and "potato patties" (aloo tikki?) especially when they are hot and don't need to be reheated. Can't tell you how many times I made a quick lunch of those; those are the real stars at IS&S, IMHO.

                As for the steam table offerings, most I've tried have been solidly decent to quite good. I don't know that there is a can't-miss, must-try item, but give it a shot, sample several things and see what you like. I quite like one of the lentil dishes (yellow-y with dried red chiles...can't remember exactly which one), and the eggplant, and the whole jalapeno curry was delicious, but engaged in scorched earth warfare as it moved through my aging system.

                Good luck.

                6 Replies
                1. re: yclops

                  Is there a timeline as to when the food at the steam tables at ISS will be the freshest? My lunch hour is pretty flexible so I can go to ISS at any time. But, I'm thinking that to prepare for the lunch crowd, ISS is probably cooking their dishes at 11 something and thus to get to ISS around 11. Or, is it just more random?

                  1. re: hobbess

                    I've never been to Tustin but there's a continual line at IS&S Canoga Park and it's always fresh.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Turns out there's a reason why nobody's yet eaten at ISS in Tustin- its lunch buffet is still not open. I've been driving by ISS for awhile but I finally dropped in today for lunch only to discover that they still haven't set up their gas line and thus cannot serve lunch even though the kitchen is all ready to go. It'll probably take another month for them to set it all up.

                      1. re: hobbess

                        Head for Haveli's buffet in the meantime. $8.99, but delicious.

                        Haveli Fine Indian Cuisine
                        13882 Newport Ave, Tustin, CA 92780

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          Passing by ISS today, and noticed its been shut down where everything has been removed. I don't think they ever got a chance to set up their lunch buffet.

                          1. re: hobbess

                            That's a bummer... I never managed to get there anyway. I still like Haveli's buffet -- and they have coupons out for $6.99 buffet -- and for southern food in OC I will go to Dosa Place now and then (but their service is so... so... so ODD.)