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Nov 22, 2009 06:53 PM

Samosa House vs. Bawarchi

Two longtime regular Samosa House customers.

Two combinations from Samosa House, two from Bawarchi, and one Papri Chaat from each.

Let it be noted, neither of the diners were really Samosa House partisans. We each made regular pilgrimages to Artesia before having kids (still young toddlers). Samosa House is simply the most convenient and consistent option that has been available in our price range on the west side of town.

Here are the deciding factors that have influenced our decision.

Distance: Samosa house 4 miles, Bawarchi 4.5 miles. Essentially a draw, but Samosa House has easier parking.

Environment: really a non-issue as we usually have take-out. But Bawarchi is a clear winner when judged on design, comfort, and general cleanliness (even their dine-in serving-ware seems up market). It has to be noted that Samosa House somehow feels "right" dispite the low-rent nature of the environment, whereas Bawarchi seems almost unjustifiably posh given their reasonable prices. Advantage... probably Bawarchi.

Price: Pennies different. Draw.

Chaat: This was the greatest contrast between the two establishments. Samosa House used to (about two years ago) source their ingredients much better preparing their papri chaat with kala chana (black chick peas) and thin sev as well as their home made chutneys and yogurt. Today the recipe has been simplified, and the more esoteric ingredients have been dropped, but it's still quite tasty. Bawachi, sadly, takes the Samosa House recipe and simplifies it further, resulting in a less balanced, less satisfying option. Would we prefer Surati Farsan Mart or Jay Bharat? Are you kidding? But, between the two local options Samosa House is the clear winner.

Combo Plates: Very tough decision here. In many ways this is an impossible call to make. Options change daily in both establishments, and the items that are always avaiable like jack fruit and chana were all but identical. No. Really. Blind tasting identical. No joke. Same recipe. Really. As to variable options we had Mirchi Saalam from both places... Samosa house was spicier and sweeter, Bawarchi was smokier, and thinner. We had Soy Tikka Masala from both, Bawarchi was oilier and hotter, Samosa House was denser and sweeter. We had Malai Kofta, which was a stark contrast, totally different recipe: Samosa House was a corn cake in sweet cream sauce, and Bawarchi was a soy meatball in sour cream sauce. On the whole, if you like sweet and rich sauces Samosa House is your destination, and if you like sharp and thin sauces Bawarchi is preferable. Even though Barwachi has roughly twice the number of options available we generally preferred Samosa House.

Bells and whistles: Bawarchi has Pilau rice at no extra charge... but it isn't very good. Bawarchi has naan... but it's overworked, dried out, and simply awful (Samosa House will apparently also have naan by the end of the week). Bawarchi has salad. Samosa House has vastly better raita... and both now have equally bad papadum. Both have dried out chapati.

Conclusion: Is it worth picking favorites? I'd probably pick the closer based on geographic location and leave it at that. Generally, I honestly preferred Samosa House, and didn't see enough distinction between the two to make much fuss about. If I were going on a cheap date I'd probably go with Bawarchi as it's prettier... but beyond that there's not much to distinguish it... As soon as the kids get old enough we'll probably go back to making the crosstown pilgrimage anyway.

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  1. I had this roasted chili curry at Barwatchi and it was fantastic. Really thought everything was good and fresh. I think they are working some of the kinks out, but it is a good choice for lunch in Culver City. There are a lot of different veggie options.

    My main complaint was that you get a lot of food w/ the combo and the trays are too big for the table. Some things, like the salad, seem like more of an afterthought.

    1. I'm giving Bawarchi a try today. I was craving a nice samosa chaat, but it sounds like that may be a mistake.

      2 Replies
      1. re: a_and_w

        Thanks for the detailed report, Moomin. I've been enjoying Samosa House for a long time now, and I was sad when it seemed the chef had left (though I'm happy to see he has his own thing going now at Bawarchi). I feel like I'm going to have to go out for Indian food on the west side twice as often. I'd love to see both places doing well.

        1. re: banjoboy

          Try them both, then decide. I was thinking along the same lines, but honestly... after my recent meals at both establishments I'm inclined to simply stick with Samosa House. They're both fine. Bawarchi is just not appreciably better in any significant way.

      2. Thanks for the very interesting comparative review. Haven't made it to Bawarchi yet but there has been some recent debate about Samosa House (and Bawarchi), among others, here:

        3 Replies
        1. re: cakewhole

          Took the plunge this weekend and tried it. On the plus side:

          * Great bang for your buck, way more food than Samosa House
          * More variety of options.
          * Slight advantage on taste. I think it's fairly neck and neck but I'd give the edge to Barwarchi.

          * very slooow service. Took a long time to order
          * feels nitpicky but having trays the size of the table seems a little strange. Between food drinks and an appetizer, we had to expand onto the next table to fit it all.
          * May have been a function of the food and naan but I left feeling fuller (in a bad way). One of the things I always liked about Samosa House but that I could eat a full dinner and not feel stuffed after. That didn't happen this time.

          Overall I'd say alternate between the two or pick the one closer to you. Both are good options and fairly similiar.

          1. re: Discokill

            I've only eaten at Samosa House once, and at Bawarchi 2-3 times. I agree that Bawarchi does give you more food for your buck than Samosa House, and I appreciate the better variety. 1 "special" at Bawarchi can feed me and my wife... particularly with a side of aloo pakora.

            I must sadly agree about the slow service though at Bawarchi. I wouldn't want to have 4-5 people ahead of me, or it'd take quite a while. The people are nice, just not very fast (perhaps because they haven't been open long).

            Oh, and in response to the OP, I'd say the naan is quite fine - reminds me of Trader Joe's frozen naan (so, if you like one, you'll like the other. If not...).

            1. re: hhewitt

              Going to have to plead a "take-out" exemption on the size comparisons. The take out containers are idenical and filled to precisely the same degree. Now... I will confess... take out at Samosa House is a bit of a trick, as they give you roughly twice as much food as dine in, for precisely the same price.

              Even when I'm dining-in, I order take-out at Samosa House. Shhhh... don't tell.

        2. I will say the thing I like best about Bawarchi is they have Labels for each of the Dishes. Most of the time Samosa house did not.

          1. Tried Bawarchi yesterday and was really, really impressed! Palak paneer, malai kofta, and chana masala were all extremely fresh and well spiced. This is right up there with my favorite veggie Indian places anywhere. The kicker is that Bawarchi is also only a block or two from the Anjelica truck!

            3 Replies
            1. re: a_and_w

              It's nitpicky and unfair... but it plays on my mind.

              Both Bawarchi and Samosa House are steam-table indian places. Neither of them serve "extremely fresh" food. Nor should they, they serve casseroles, many of which actually IMPROVE and intensify with time. There are certain items that each restaurant stocks that I won't order if I see that they've just been brought out because the flavors benefit from more time on the burner.

              Having said that, to each his or her own. Upon further reflection I stand by my initial observation... they're remarkably similar, neither as good as they've been touted to be, and the major distinction is Samosa House errs on the side of rich and sweet (coconut cream), and Bawarchi errs on the side of sharp and thin (mustard oil).

              1. re: Moomin

                Perhaps "extemely" was hyperbole, but your correction is otherwise inaccurate. "Fresh" is simply a relative term as applied to steam table food. As for Bawarchi, it's a LOT better than recent critics led me to believe. I'm confident this place would do very well in Manhattan (but probably not Queens) where competition for veggie Indian is greater than LA. (Though I would kill for a branch of Saravanaas.)

                1. re: Moomin

                  since the dal at both places is cooked for 24 hours; for that dish, at least, it doesn't seem to me that another 40 minutes on the steam table would make any discernable difference one way or another.