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Feb 18, 2014 05:05 PM

Zam Zam in Culver City, what do you guys get here ? Is it a meat intensive joint, or veggies and na'an, and veggie curries and chutneys are their nom de guerre ??????


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  1. i'm confused as hell everytime i go there, so i just buy the chicken biryani and call it a day. get extra sauce.

    8 Replies
    1. re: ns1

      why confused as hell ????


      I won't be able to communicate with them ?????

      1. re: kevin

        picture this:

        you walk into what appears to be an indian deli. there are a few customers at various tables eating.

        a freezer to the left carries frozen samosas for sale.

        the counter to the right/front of you has a cashier/expediter/owner who will take your order. on said counter is a bunch of styrofoam take out boxes (unlabeled). there is no menu to look at.

        perplexed, you ask for the biryani you've been hearing fantastic things about. she gives you a take out box from the counter and a couple of sauce containers.

        you pay and leave, wondering what the hell just happened

        *the above has been my experience 3 times now.

        1. re: ns1

          i'm looking at yelp pics now and i see pictures of food in steam tables. i have never actually seen food in steam tables when i visited zam zam.

          1. re: ns1

            I totally agree; although, I've only been there once a while back.

            I walk in and wait on a short line. There isn't much communication between the patrons ahead of me and the man behind the counter. It's my turn and the counter man says to me "You want the biryani." I say okay as there's no menu to select anything else. I pay and wait. Over the course of the next few minutes about 4-5 customers start getting their orders and everyone is getting the "mixed grill". I'm not certain why I was told to order the biryani. The biryani was okay, a bit spicy, and consisted of a bunch of stuff that I didn't recognize--but maybe that is what biryani is all about...

          2. re: kevin

            It's kind of just an empty room. Last time I went they had a tiny amount of dal and some spinach.

            I got a biryani combo. It comes with meat on top. I also got naan. There was not really anything else to order.

            Also, no menu

            1. re: kevin

              I wouldn't get anything from the steam tables. It's a really good meat focused Pakistani place. They have chicken biryani which is meat with bones, rice & spices cooked in layers in one pot. Sometimes, on Saturdays, they have goat biryani which is excellent. I find their tandoori chicken to be a little dry, but their kebabs are very good and the naan is ok.

              1. re: Kalivs

                The lamb is pretty darn good too,slightly spicier than the chicken.

          3. Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly comprises the biryani at Zam Zam? Is the chicken in pieces or chopped up? bones or boneless? Difficult to eat? Spicy?

            4 Replies
            1. re: nosh

              bone in assorted pieces of chicken somewhat chopped up but not really

              easy to eat, semi-spicy; meaning it won't make you sweat, but if you're intolerable to spice you should look elsewhere

              1. re: ns1

                I like spicy. But I still don't have a sense of what it is -- a pile of rice? seasoned/fried? vegetables in it? what are the sauces like?

                1. re: nosh

                  biryani = one pot rice dish

                  so you take rice + spices + meat, throw it all into a pot, and let it simma for a few hours. this is a SUPER SIMPLIFIED explanation, but it allows all the aromas/flavors to mend.

                  there are no real veggies in it, it's mainly rice + spices + meat

                  sauce is a green sauce, somewhat spicy somewhat creamy. no idea wtf it's made out of, but i liken it to a peruvian aji sauce.

                  zam zam = pakisani style biryani

                  others (such as hyderabad style biryani) are made using a similar process but the end result is different and they use different sauces.

                  1. re: ns1

                    The first time I went I ordered 3 briyani not knowing what a single order was and thought my arm was going to fall off carrying it to the car.

              1. re: chrishei

                The combo is not available every day, though you should snap it up when it is. It's an outrageously good value for the quality of the food. I recall hearing the mix is available two days a week, but I don't know what days those are. Perhaps a more informed 'hound can chime in with this info.

                One day a week they have the lamb pulao (Friday?) in addition to the biryani, which was quite good (though I remain partial to the biryani.)

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  The combo has always been available for me, though I've only been there less than a dozen or so times (and only on weekdays - not sure which days of the week I went). They're always had the combo and the prepackaged chicken biryani during those days.

                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    When I was there recently (actually a Friday, when they did have lamb pulao), I was told that the combo is available Tue-Thu. I also understand that at least on Saturdays, when they serve only biryani during the day, they offer chicken curry, and perhaps other saucy dishes in the evening, starting at 5 pm.

                2. You're most likely going to be limited primarily by what they have available at the time as they tend to cook limited amounts. Note it's not a look at a menu and pick an option place. Ask at the front counter what is available and they'll tell you. Service is friendly and no language barrier. They do have a steam table but haven't really seen it used in a bit. Good options to ask about are the Biryani, Kebabs and Tandoori. Also you can ask to add Naan (I like the sesame seed naan). There's no curries or chutneys that I'm aware of.

                  One note on the Biryani - yes it is very spicy but not in a "my mouth is burning hot" way. It's more of a flavor bomb. I'm not a hot spicy fan at all and I love Zam Zam's biryani.

                  1. The combo is chicken biryani, a choice of two stews you get one meat one veggie (from the steam table) couple pieces of tandoori chicken a piece of ground meat kabob and naan for $10.00. On Fridays they have the biryani already packed and stacked for the mosque crowd.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: trojans

                      Correction the combo price is now $12.00

                        1. re: chrishei

                          The sign says $12.00 but they charged me $10.00 like usual.