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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 ??????

kevin Feb 18, 2014 05:05 PM


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  1. n
    ns1 RE: kevin Feb 18, 2014 05:05 PM

    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
      kevin RE: ns1 Feb 18, 2014 05:07 PM

      why confused as hell ????


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

      1. re: kevin
        ns1 RE: kevin Feb 18, 2014 05:11 PM

        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
          ns1 RE: ns1 Feb 18, 2014 05:12 PM

          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
            Butter Fight RE: ns1 Feb 18, 2014 05:14 PM

            They exist! And they're good!

          2. re: ns1
            peterx RE: ns1 Feb 22, 2014 03:28 PM

            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...

          3. re: kevin
            Butter Fight RE: kevin Feb 18, 2014 05:12 PM

            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
              Kalivs RE: kevin Feb 18, 2014 10:43 PM

              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
                A5 KOBE RE: Kalivs Feb 18, 2014 10:46 PM

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

          4. n
            nosh RE: kevin Feb 18, 2014 05:23 PM

            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
              ns1 RE: nosh Feb 18, 2014 05:27 PM

              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
                nosh RE: ns1 Feb 18, 2014 05:33 PM

                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
                  ns1 RE: nosh Feb 18, 2014 05:37 PM

                  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
                    A5 KOBE RE: ns1 Feb 18, 2014 10:48 PM

                    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.

            2. c
              chrishei RE: kevin Feb 18, 2014 06:07 PM

              Just get the combo/mix plate.

              3 Replies
              1. re: chrishei
                Mr Taster RE: chrishei Feb 25, 2014 10:57 AM

                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
                  chrishei RE: Mr Taster Feb 25, 2014 11:06 AM

                  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
                    edie RE: Mr Taster Feb 25, 2014 12:24 PM

                    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. Discokill RE: kevin Feb 18, 2014 06:33 PM

                  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. trojans RE: kevin Feb 18, 2014 09:10 PM

                    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
                      trojans RE: trojans Feb 20, 2014 12:42 PM

                      Correction the combo price is now $12.00

                      1. re: trojans
                        chrishei RE: trojans Feb 20, 2014 12:48 PM

                        Was $10 2 weeks ago...

                        1. re: chrishei
                          trojans RE: chrishei Feb 20, 2014 06:45 PM

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

                    2. mrgreenbeenz RE: kevin Feb 18, 2014 09:33 PM

                      Combo is a pile of biryani with some pretty good tandoor chicken and fresh naan - you then have a choice of dal or saag (go with the dal - it's spicy) and then usually either lamb korma or chicken curry - either is good. Make sure to ask for the sauce.

                      If they aren't doing the combos just get the biryani and maybe add an order of chicken - those two items will run you about $14 bucks and will feed you for four days.

                      1. m
                        Mento RE: kevin Feb 20, 2014 03:01 PM

                        Apparently you go there for the lamb biryiani special on saturdays

                        1. b
                          BacoMan RE: kevin Feb 20, 2014 11:59 PM

                          Get the tandoori chicken if you can. The stuff is incredible there. The biryani is amazing, too, but I don't know what they are doing to the tandoori chicken. It's way better than anywhere else somehow.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: BacoMan
                            kevin RE: BacoMan Feb 21, 2014 10:06 PM

                            Is it possible to stuff the tandoori in one of those baco flatbreads ???????

                            If possible ?????

                            Thanks bro.

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