Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se: A Street-side Home-style Story.
Mumbai Ki Galliyon Se (MKGS) literally translates as "From the streets of Mumbai (Bombay)". While the name suggests street food from Bombay, they also offer a number of regional (south/north/west) or "fusion" (Indian-Chinese) specialties. The north Indian is not available currently, but will be offered soon. Mind you, a number of street foods from Bombay are not necessarily vegetarian, but MKGS is.
We stuck to the basics: street food from Bombay or more precisely: Maharashtrian food. Note, Maharashtra is the state that the city of Bombay is the capital of. Bombay is a cultural melting pot, the rest of Maharashtra, not so much. The "natives" of Maharashtra speak "Marathi", have a rich culinary heritage, which is quite diverse ("coastal" versus "heartland", "rich" versus "poor", "refined" versus "rustic"). This cuisine is rarely found outside of Maharashtra, let alone India. MKGS offers a few, and that is in some sense, pushing the envelope of "Indian" cuisine, and it's great that it happened in LA, and not in the SF Bay Area, where such occurrences are frequent, if not entirely commonplace.
We ordered #36 through #41, (except #39). In addition we ordered #49. Note the portions are small, but so is the price ($4-6 per item). For the three of us, we spent about $55 (including tax and tip).
#36: Masaale Bhaath ("Spiced Rice"). This is a traditional Maharashtrian specialty, especially during weddings, or special occasions. They certainly got the right "masala" i.e. it had the right level of spice. This dish demands spice, not heat, and that's exactly how it was, however, it did not have as many vegetables as the recipe usually demands. Overall, it was delicious, in spite of lacking some basic ingredients (though I must add that some of these vegetables are not grown or are hard to find in North America).
#37: Sabudana Vada ("Deep Fried Tapioca Balls"). This is a classic Maharashtrian snack. Bombayites spend hours arguing over who makes better "sabudana vadas", ala pastrami at Langer's or Oinkster's. I found this a tad sweeter than my personal preference. But, this is a Gujurati making a Maharashtrian specialty, and "Gujju" food is usually a tad sweeter than Maharashtrian. Otherwise, it was on the mark and not at all greasy.
#38: Sabudana Khichadi ("Shallow Fried Spiced Tapioca"): . This had the right amount of green chillies (Thai chillies), and cilantro, and was perhaps lacking coarsely ground peanuts, but, given the abundance of peanut allergies, it's probably a good thing (though this is being overly-anal). This was terrific, "mom's cooking at its finest" good.
#40: Puneri Misal ("The Misal, Pune-style"): Misal is one of the quintessential Maharashtrian snacks. Pune is the cultural capital for Maharashtrians, and a former seat of power. The "Misal" is a soupy broth of pulses and grams (moth beans, black grams etc.). The "Puneri" twist is adding puffed, beaten, and spiced rice. It is topped with "farsan" and onions and cilantro. We asked them to make it hot, and they gladly accommodated, and it was delicious. And hot. Kudos.
#41 Batata Vada ("Deep Fried Potato Balls"). This was good, but not great, the batter a little thicker than my personal preference, and was slightly underspiced.
#49: Dabeli ("The Vegetarian Slider"). The owner doesn't like the reference to slider, but heck, it has serious explanatory power. This is a Gujurati snack, and is uncommon even within the non-Gujurati areas of Bombay. There are three components which make this dish tick: the bread, the "filling" and the condiments. The bread was OK, the filling was terrific (spice, heat, and texture - or lack thereof). The condiments - pomegranate seeds, and spiced peanuts. This was FABULOUS. Wow.
Please note, MKGS is not handled to manage the significant increase in their clientele. It's still a mom-and-pop operation, so ordering in advance or over the phone maybe a good idea. Else, a 15-20 minute maybe "normal". In my opinion, this food is best enjoyed in the restaurant, than as "to go", so the wait maybe well worth it. Also, I have been there just once, and I usually don't like sample size of one stories, but I think its imperative to put it out there.
Also, they also offer a number of Gujurati dishes that are available in Rasraj, JayBharat, etc., though I can't comment if they are better (or worse) than the competitors, since I did not try them. What I do know is JayB and RasR got lucky: Yogiraj folded a few years ago. Why did I wait for the LA Times review, and break the CH code? A "reliable" source told me an year ago, this was "...bad, and don't waste your money". Hmm.
All in all, MKGS deserves kudos for being innovative (not one more butter chicken-saag paneer Indian restaurant), and I hope they continue the good work.
Mumbai KI Galliyon Se
17705 Pioneer Blvd
Artesia, CA 90701
Agreed on the Dabeli. Great seasoning on the filling and a great combination of spicy, sweet, crunchy and soft. Also recommend the Piyush drink. A lassi drink that takes 3 days to make according to the owner and flavoed with cardamon, saffron and pistachios.
Highly recommend the weekend Kathiawadi Thali which is only available on weekends. The thali comes with rotla, a kind of grilled chipati bread topped with a sweet cheese-like butter. Also included was a mix of dahl, and an eggplant side order that I haven't had at other Indian restos. The dahl has a nice consistency and the eggplant dish was like a warm Lebanese baba ghanoge but with Indian spices. Also this thali came with a creamy coconut soup that tasted like a soup that I've had at Jay Bharat.