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Indian in "Little India"

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I'm interested in going to "Little India" for dinner, but there seem to be so many restaurants there. What's your favorite one and why?

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  1. the india restaurant is pretty good.. but wait for responses from ppl who are more experienced in that area than i am since i haven't tried many others. :p

    1 Reply
    1. re: namstermonster

      I 2nd the India Restaurant.

    2. Oddly, I've yet to have a good Indian meal in Little India. (Great imported Indian mangoes and other supplies though.)

      1. I've only tried Ashoka the Great for the lunch buffet. It was quite good. Easily the best buffet food I've had--it's actually spicy, and the saag paneer is truly awesome.

        I'd be interested to hear from those who have tried multiple places in Artesia for a little compare and contrast. It's such a long drive, advance info. is a must.

        1. My hands-down favorite is Rajdhani. All vegetarian. It servs Thali-style which is - as much as you want and they bring it to you! You get several dishes in small metal bowls. All delicious and service is great. At lunch it is $13.99 and dessert is included. I love the Salty Lassi - so refreshing/ There is no menu - they only do the Thali. I took my friend (who lives about a mile away and is from the Rajdhani region and is a wonderful cook) who had never been and she loved it. I also went last Sunday and noticed that my friends and I were the only non-Indians in the place - always a good sign in my eyes!
          I have linked an old CH post - with J Gold's review (I have not read it but it came up when I searched just now). Good luck!!
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/336119

          9 Replies
          1. re: WildSwede

            This is my hands down favorite too. I think it's more than that for lunch, at least on Saturdays. Around $15 or $16 is the base price, I thought? I could be wrong.

            1. re: choctastic

              Ours was lunch and $13.99/pp a couple of weeks ago - on a Sunday. Cannot be sure about Saturdays since it has been a while since I was there on a Sat and I did not pay that time!

            2. re: WildSwede

              Can you get anything else to drink there? Water. Mango Lassi? Coke?

              1. re: WildSwede

                I spent a while researching Little India for my first trip there a few months ago, and ended up choosing Rajdhani as well. Couldn't have been happier. Be sure to get the saffron pudding dessert, I forget what it's called. Can't wait to go back and try other places. (And in response to above -- yes, I had a diet coke.) By the way try to get there early on weekends. We got there around noon and were seated immediately. By the time we left at 1 or 1:30, there were 20 people waiting.

                1. re: QualityMart

                  I've been to Rajdhani twice and I just don't get it. It tastes ok, not super exciting. It reminds me of food that is homecooked. Even with AYCE, I'm not in love with this place and after two tries, I'm not going to go back when the other thalis in Little India are light years away in taste from what you get at Rajdhani.

                  1. re: misseatalot

                    Well let's put it this way -- it's all I've been to so far, so if that sets the lowest bar in Little India, then I *really* can't wait to go back and try other places. Also, having read pretty much every single thread about Little India on this board, there is a comment like yours for every single place there. In other words I couldn't find a clear front runner, so nothing beats just heading out there and trying every place you can, and deciding for yourself.

                    1. re: QualityMart

                      I agree with this. The restaurants in Artesia show a great diversity of Indian cooking, so it is not surprising that some people like certain restaurants more than others. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Gujarati cuisine, and thus not a huge fan of Rajdhani, Surati Farsan Mart, or Jay Bharat, but these restaurants are all pretty good objectively.

                  2. re: QualityMart

                    the saffron pudding dessert is shrikhand.

                    Also, I was stunned when one of my dining companions asked for chapatis cooked without butter...and they cheerfully and quickly complied!

                    1. re: choctastic

                      One of the most delightfully gluttonous things is the shrikand with puris at Surati Farsan Mart.

                2. I went to The India restaurant last month for the lunch buffet. So, YUMMY!
                  www.theindiarestaurant.net
                  This is a great start. If you're not happy with this restaurant, then I would explore others .

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Kitchen Queen

                    I second The India Restaurant. I've lived in L.A. over 30 years and Indian is my favorite ethnic food; this restaurant has the best Indian buffet I've ever had.

                    1. re: Dogbite Williams

                      A very definitive THIRD! for The India Restaurant. This place has the best buffet that I've had (I've had alot of Indian buffets), and is even better at dinner. For North Indian, I've yet to find a better place. I literally dream about this place. Just wish it wasn't 35 miles away.

                  2. My favorite is Bombay Sweets and Snacks but it's not a sit down place. They have quick vegetarian snacks that can be a meal.

                    They have great desserts. They have the best selection of gulab jamun I've ever seen and an impressive burfi selection.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: OC Eats

                      My go to place in Artesia for vegetarian is Rasraj because it's cheap and good. It is a fast food kind of a place though but it's definitely a wonderful meal. The papri chat is fantastic! Perfect marriage of sweet, sour, spicy, crunchy and cool. Also their paneer tikka masala is fantastic too. It's like chicken tikka masala but with cheese and they give you naan with this dish. After trying a few other items on their menu (dosas, other chats, biryani), I always get these two items since they have a lot of flavor and texture.

                      For thalis, I really enjoy the Gujurat thali at Jay Bharat. The different dishes of the thali complement each other very well and their seasonings are exquisite. Also Jay Bharat's shrikhand is the best. Shrikhand is a creamy tangy saffron pudding that is very rich. It is unlike anything I've ever had and it's unbelievable.

                      For meat dishes try Ashoka. They have the best biryani and I'm a sucker for a good biryani. You have to order your raita on the side though at Ashoka, but they season their raita unlike other place I've been to so it's worth it. Their curries are nice too.

                      Yesterday, we stopped by Standard Sweets and Snacks after Ashoka and had a chiku shake! YUM! Standard's chiku shake is almost like ice cream and it's the best chiku shake I've had so far.

                      But if you're looking for some good Indian sweets to top off a meal, Suranti Farsan has the best burfi. I highly recommend the yellow penda. Burfi is like an Indian marzipan flavored with saffron that is more refined and smooth.

                    2. Tirupathi Bhimas. Good Andhra (southern) food, including a very good Andhra spicy thali. Also good is Jay Bharat and Rajdhani.

                      1. Can't remember what I had from this popular bakery off the 91 in Artesia. It resembled a Portuguese malasada with bits of dried fruits in it coated with sugar. Never had dinner there though.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Clinton

                          Second Jay Bharat, also Udupi Palace, both for Thalis. Had a very subpar meal at Tirupathi Bhimas.

                        2. Udupi Palace is my go-to restaurant. It's the most consistently good and clean. For North Indian, I'd rather go to Hawthorne to Al Noor or Al Watan, which I consider better than the North Indian places along Artesia Blvd. If you haven't had much Southern Indian before, Udupi Palace is a fine place to start.

                          1. It's beena while since we were there, but we really like Woodlands. I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned yet. Does that mean it's no longer there or that it's slipped? I hope not, since I thought it was superb.

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: farmertomato

                              It's good. I think it's still there.

                              1. re: aventinus

                                The lack of good Indian restaurants in Little India is a bit of a mystery, but only a bit!
                                Most Indians who go shopping there (groceries, gold jewelry, and clothing) would probably not go for a sit-down North Indian meal as well. Thus good quality restaurants, say a Gaylords/Tanzore or Chakra, would not do well in Little India, because they would not get a lot of Indians to go, and not much non-Indian traffic in these locations. As a result, the only Indian restaurants that would survive are the ones unlike the standard North Indian/Punjabi fare Indian restaurants that Los Angeles is chock-full of. The Gujrati Surati Farsan Mart and Rajdhanis, the South Indian Udupi Palace, Woodlands, Tirupathi Bhimas, the Pakistani Shan and Shah Nawaz, the Little India Grill (not a full fare restaurant), the sweet shops, etc. survive. Ashoka is the only one that is offering North Indian food like the traditional Indian restaurant, and while its food is NOT very good, it survives as the only one of its kind in the neighborhood.

                                Having said that, here is one Indian's opinion on the restaurants:
                                Tirupathi Bhimas - excellent Andhra fare - probably our go-to South Indian restaurant for dosas, idli, uttappam, and other spicy Andhra food
                                Kabob Corner (downstairs from TB) - was one of our favorite places for spicy Andhra non-veg - but once too often its food disappointed since our first "wow" visit. Have stopped going there.
                                Standard Sweets - this reopened after many years of being shut down (previous owner was found guilty of burning down the place to collect insurance) - have not visited after the reopening - but hear good things about it.
                                Surati Farsan Mart - great place for snacks and Gujrati items that are difficult to find in other places.
                                Jay Bharat - one of the best places for light food - primarily Gujrati, but also serves north and south Indian vegetarian food.
                                Ashoka the Great - as I said in the preamble, the only standard north Indian restaurant in Little India.
                                Udupi Palace - have not been recently, but decent south Indian.
                                Woodlands - sit down south Indian - good buffet and tey have a private side room for small gatherings.
                                Rajdhani - went once and was not impressed, Jonathan Gold notwithstanding. Vegetarian Gujrati food can be indeed excellent, as witnessed by the thali places in Ahmedabad, the capital of Gujrat. This place was hugely disappointing compared to our experiences in Ahmedabad. Fewer variations, mostly muddled textures, overly sweet preparations. I am also NOT a big vegetarian food fan, unless it is from Bengali cuisine, so your mileage might vary.
                                Little India Grill - good place for tandoori sikh kebabs and naan, but little else.
                                Shan - extremely greasy Pakistani food. Not my cup of tea, but some seem to like it.
                                Shahnawaz - (not in Little India - but slightly southeast in Lakewood) - much better Pakistani food - specially the nihari and haleem.
                                Ambala Dhaba - this is our personal favorite (actually we were there last night) - for unusual Punjabi spiced goat (called bakra here) dishes and lamb and chicken. They moved slightly north of their original location and is in a nicer setting. Service is slow, so if you are hungry, best to order some appetizer first. We had bakra curry, Phillauri bakra, and chilli paneer - usually you will not find these dishes in most standard north Indian restaurants.
                                Little Dhaka - this is a Bangladeshi store for groceries, but they also sell some prepared lunch/dinner items which are unusual - specially the fish dishes. I personally find the Bangladeshi cuisine too greasy, but many of my friends like it.

                                -----
                                Tirupathi Bhimas
                                18792 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                Little Dhaka
                                18159 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                Tanzore
                                50 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

                                Jay Bharat
                                18701 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                Ashoka the Great
                                18614 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                Rajdhani
                                18525 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                Woodlands Indian Cuisine
                                11833 Artesia Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                Udupi Palace
                                18635 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                Little India Grill
                                18383 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                Shahnawaz
                                12225 Centralia St, Lakewood, CA 90715

                                Kabob Corner
                                18742 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA

                                Shan Restaurant
                                18621 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                Surati Farsan Mart
                                11814 186th St, Artesia, CA 90701

                                Ambala Dhaba
                                17631 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                Standard Sweets and Snacks
                                Artesia, CA, Artesia, CA

                                1. re: suvro

                                  I don't know what all this "Artesia sucks" crud is about. I love Artesia. There is fantastic food in Artesia. I go there constantly. It's a wonder.

                                  However: most places down there have their specialties. If you don't do their specialties, then you're probably SOL. There are, for instance, very few northern-style places, as suvro noted. I don't know why. Maybe suvro's right - or is it a local population thing? Some very non-northern places have some northern style dishes, presumably for the people that wander in and have to have chicken tikka masala, even in a chaat place. It's like a Sichuan place that sticks sweet and sour pork on its menu for those poor lost souls that think Chinese food is sweet and sour pork. Avoid it.

                                  I used to love Tirupathi Bhimas with a complete passion, but about a year ago they seemed to have changed owners, and gone from earth-shatteringly great to merely pretty good. Kabab Corner has the same owners, so...

                                  Right next to Kabab Corner is Saffron. Ice cream parlor. They have really good kulfi. *Really* good kulfi. Possibly lifechanging. Also good cream-and-kulfi drink.

                                  Woodlands - used to be crazy fantastic. Beautiful, supple, delicate Southern dishes. Best dal I've had in my life, ever. I still think about it, five years later. Then they expanded to some more branches and this branch started to suck out. I heard they got better again recently.

                                  Surati Farsan Mart is one of my favorite places ever - clearly the best chaat experience of my life, including all of the famed SF Bay Area places. Those joints that all the Chowhounds up north talk about - like Vik's - ain't got nothin' on Surati Farsan's snacks. Among other things, they have sev khamani, which is the Chickpea Fluff of Wonder. Their... what's the word.. sev puri? Like pre-filled pani puri with a little mint and yogurt and toppings? Are wondrous. Also: that stuff that's sweet thick yogurt with pistachios, that you scoop up with wheaty chapatis. Oh god, it's good.

                                  Udupi Palace: Hyperdabi place. dosas, dosas, dosas. Their rava dosas - cream of wheat base - are lacy wonders. Lovely deep sour tangs. Their other dishes: OK to occasionally great. Their dosas never fail. Their enormous puffy fried bread (bathura?) is great, too. Though not as great as the version at Woodlands of old.

                                  Shahnawaz (which, suvro, I think you pointed me to) changed my freakin' life. Haleem and nihari. Best pakistani food I've had in my life. Oh god, the sweet suckling wonder of meat nectar. They are The Essence of Gravy Descended From Heaven. If you want meat, go here. Gorgeous, radiant food. The folks were very unfriendly and suspicious at first, but warmed up after I started having epileptic fits of joy over the haleem.

                                  Ambala Dhaba: I've never been to the Little India branch, since I go constantly to the Westwood branch, which is near UCLA, which is basically where I live. But the Westwood branch is still one of my favorite restaurants in town. Yogurt-marinated tandoor roast chicken, beautiful goat curry, ambala fish, ambala vegetables... Profound...

                                  Little India Grill: good curries, great fresh bread.

                                  Jay Bharat: I really liked them 5 years ago. Haven't been since, for no other reason than that I keep falling in love with other places. Last I remember, it was great.

                                  Standard Sweets and Snacks: worse in most ways than Surati Farsan Mart, though they do have *Italian samosas* filled with cheese and stuff, which are so deliriously cool that I put them in the natural fusion article I wrote a while back.

                                  I love Radjhani. Admittedly, unlike suvro, I've never been to Ahmedabad (I suspect that visiting the place of origin of Cuisine X will always make the LA version seem worse). But I love Radjhani. A lot. It is, since the fall of Tirupathi, possibly my favorite restaurant in Little India. Delicate, deep, sensuous, very aromatic.

                                  Ashoka the Great. I despise this place. With a passion. It smells rancid. It tastes rancid. It's greasy. The meat tastes dull and rank. The sauces are oversimplified and muddy at the same time. I don't know how you do that. It's one of those places that, if I had to guess, would say only survives because it's propped up by a twenty year old Times review. It might have been good back then. It's not now. I feel such sorrow for the people that go down there and go to Ashoka and come away with that as their impression of Little India.

                                  In other news, if you're going down there, pop by the Naz 8 - the all Bollywood multiplex. I have yet to be disappointed by dinner at Surati or Radjhani, then a drop to Saffron for kulfi, then off to the Naz 8 for 3 hours of all-singing, all-dancing Bollywood glee. Also: the snack line has somasas and... oh my god. I just forgot the name. What's the thing... the leaf thing, that has coconut and candied anise seeds and stuff wrapped in it?

                                  I had a meal once at Rasraj but I couldn't remember any thoughts I had about it at all the next day, which probably means something.

                                  1. re: Thi N.

                                    The "leaf thing" is called "paan" - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paan

                                    1. re: suvro

                                      Yes! Paan is the best movie intermission snack ever.

                                    2. re: Thi N.

                                      Does Rasraj still have fresh-squeezed sugar cane juice?

                                      1. re: choctastic

                                        Fresh-squeezed sugar cane juice is still on their menu the last time I went there a few weeks ago.

                                      2. re: Thi N.

                                        Shahnawaz has incredibly good, buttery paratha.

                                        1. re: Thi N.

                                          Betwen suvro and Thi I have some new places to try. I think my last visit to Woodlands was about 18 months ago and I though the lunch buffet with dosas was a good value. Not everything was perfect but there were some interesting choices, & some excellent.

                                          Ashoka & Kabob Corner were one-visit only places for me.

                                          I've only had an assortment of snacks from Rasraj. Maybe 10% were memorable.

                                        2. re: suvro

                                          No good Indian in Little India? Hard to believe. I'm curious, suvro, what Indian places in LA actually do meet your standards? I'd particularly love recs for saag paneer and samosa chaat -- provided, of course, that those dishes pass your test for authenticity.

                                          1. re: a_and_w

                                            I am seeing this many moons after a_and_w asked the question - so the delay in the response. The best analogy to describe why no "good Indian" in Little India is to think why I would not go to Universal City Walk for a good food experience - the area offers something else for the vast majority of visitors (Universal Studio tour) - and the food experience is a sideshow. Perhaps "no good Indian" was a bit hyperbolic for me, but with a few exceptions (Ambala Dhaba, Tirupathi Bhimas, Jay Bharat, and Surati Farsan Mart), I would not go all the way to Little India to eat. Sure - if we are there shopping (groceries, or the Diwali sale going on right now), or are in the neighborhood, or seeing movies, or meeting up with folks coming from Orange County - then we will find a place to eat (between those 4 - and if someone insists on north Indian Punjabi food - then and only then Ashoka the Great) in Little India. But not otherwise.

                                            As a matter of fact, rarely will we go out to eat Indian food at restaurants even in Pasadena or greater LA - simply because the Indian food in almost all places in North America are cookie cutter bland. Of course there are exceptions in every city, but in general.

                                            Having said that which are my destination Indian restaurants? LA is a big city, and I like multiple cuisines - so my experience is limited. But here is my list:

                                            1. Royal Khyber - it is a bit far, but I have attended events hosted there on 3 occasions, and they were all excellent in their food offerings.

                                            2. Loved the original Maurya in Beverly Hills on Doheny - but that did not last very long. The space has been taken over by Chakra, but the food was not as impressive as Maurya.

                                            3. Tanzore has replaced the older Gaylord - but again you pay for ambience more than the food.

                                            4. Locally here in Pasadena we liked Radhika's many moons ago. But then the quality dropped and the clientele vanished, and now it has shut the doors.

                                            5. The one we now use as our go to place for visitors who insist on Indian (like a Japanese family we hosted, or other Indians visiting on a tour and looking for Indian food) - New Delhi Palace. The food is well executed and some dishes are good, but nothing is new or novel that would take us back to explore. The defunct Maurya actually had that quality. Indian food in India is now very exciting - most top places (either in top hotels and more recently in a few standalone restaurants) are exploring the length and breadth of the Indian culinary range.

                                            6. One more place we like is Nirvana in Arcadia - it is a small mom-and-pop place (literally - Mrs. cooks, Mr. runs the front). However, I hesitate to recommend it because a) it is a very small place, and more importantly b) the owners are both often rude. They have gotten to know us, and we are spared their eccentric behavior, but I have seen their poor guest handling skills often enough to know it is not something anyone should put up with. Their food on the other hand is excellent - very good south Indian favorites, and some good and rare north Indian stuff too - like a great Hyderabadi biryani with lamb and eggs, and Chicken 65.

                                            Now for your specific suggestions - samosa chaat - perhaps any of the chaat places in Little India will do - Standard, Bombay, even Jay Bharat. If you are adventurous, try the Gujrati chaats at Surati Farsan Mart.

                                            Saag paneer - this is not a great dish - it is almost an afterthought for us when we order - we need a vegetable dish to round out - and perhaps this seems the best. So I don't have a specific recommendation for a restaurant with superlative saag paneer. Most boil the heck out of the spinach and then drown it in butter so the taste is not unique.

                                            If you want to try something you will not get anywhere, try the various lamb dishes and the different styles of bread in Ambala Dhaba. They have one roti which can feed 4 easily - it is made from a special grain.

                                            Hope this explains.

                                            -----
                                            Tirupathi Bhimas
                                            18792 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                            Tanzore
                                            50 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

                                            Jay Bharat
                                            18701 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                            Royal Khyber Fine Indian
                                            1621 W Sunflower Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92704

                                            New Delhi Palace Cuisine-India
                                            950 E Colorado Blvd Ste 205, Pasadena, CA 91106

                                            Surati Farsan Mart
                                            11814 186th St, Artesia, CA 90701

                                            Ambala Dhaba
                                            17631 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                            Standard Sweets and Snacks
                                            Artesia, CA, Artesia, CA

                                            Nirvana
                                            314 E Huntington Dr, Arcadia, CA 91006

                                            Chakra - Beverly Hills
                                            151 South Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

                                            1. re: suvro

                                              Ooh, thank you very much!

                                      3. re: farmertomato

                                        Not terribly impressed by Woodlands. Ordered a lot of items off the menu, all different, and nothing was very flavorful--almost water flavored on the curries. The gigantic puffed bread (name?) was amazing to look at, but sunk in the stomach like a greasy rock.

                                      4. To be totally honest, my favorite meal on the Pioneer strip is the chana batura at Ambala Sweets and Spices. Hot, spicy chickpeas with freshly fried batura. My absolute hands down favorite. I think it's still less than $4, but I haven't been there in months due to the distance.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: choctastic

                                          Second the chana batura at Ambala Sweets & Spices! This goes great with their yogurt which they spice.

                                          1. re: choctastic

                                            Thanks, I will definitely try this. Chana batura is one of my favorite Indian dishes, but I haven't had a batura that tasted quite right in LA. I love the sugary sweets at Ambala.

                                            1. re: aventinus

                                              I just had the chana batura here again and it wasn't quite up to memory. Also, I noticed the menu is all new and spiffy, which tends to be a bad sign. My favorite place on the block is Surati Farsan Mart but I tend toward Gujarati tastes, so perhaps I'm biased that way.

                                          2. We're just back from Udupi (for dhosas) and Jay Bharat for pani puri. I like Jay Bharat for the large puris you can get with the lentil and curry meal. Ah the spice is good, except for that Indian Sweets and Spices on Venice (on a good day) no one North of Artesia makes the food that hot. Maybe I passed choctastic?

                                            -----
                                            Jay Bharat
                                            18701 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                            1. For something quite different, I'd highly recommend Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se. Its in the same mini-mall as Ambala Dhaba but lots of unusual items, Mumbai street food. My husband and I love south Indian & Punjabi, but this mix of flavors - a little sweet, garlicky, and spicy was amazing. Affordable too.

                                              -----
                                              Ambala Dhaba
                                              1781 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                                              Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se
                                              17705 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701

                                              1. I've probably been there 50 times but I don't have a favorite. Indian isn't a monolithic cuisine, and the restaurants in Little India vary a lot. All of the restaurants I've tried are at least decent. I'd recommend almost every restaurant that people have listed above.

                                                If I had to pick one restaurant most likely to be a hit, I'd go with the India Restaurant, because it serves the sort of Indian food most people are used to, and does a better job at it than virtually every place in LA proper. But it's not high on my list of go-to restaurants in Little India. If I were to drive out there today, I'd probably go to Tirupathi Bhimas, in large part because I haven't been there in a while.

                                                -----
                                                Tirupathi Bhimas
                                                18792 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA 90701