Do you all prefer Al Noor to Al Watan? I like the food (and service) better at Al Noor but feel like it’s a little more westernized than Al Watan.
Pakistani cooking is a different style of food though. More heavily spiced, very meat heavy (especially lamb and goat), etc. If you’re looking for Punjabi/Mughlai style food - malai kofta, shahi paneer, kadhi pakora, etc., you have to go to an Indian restaurant to get a good version.
Skip the buffet no matter what restaurant you go to and order a la carte. Fresher food, more selection.
I think i need to be go hit Al Noor this weekend thanks for the suggestions everyone
Al Noor is good and definitely worth a try, but keep Al Watan in mind. Can’t shake the sense it might be more what you’re looking for. And honestly, I’d go to Zam Zam before either of those places.
cool…for reference in what i’m talking about what i like… Shalimar in San Francisco is my favorite Indian (https://www.yelp.com/biz/shalimar-san-francisco-4)
Ah gotcha. In that case, try Al Noor first.
I forgot. On Pico. I go to India Sweets House every 2 weeks or so. Really good but casual
Have you tried All-India Cafe in West LA (I think they also have a branch in Pasadena)? I rather enjoy it…
And is it weird that I’m not particularly fond of the catered Indian food I’ve had at weddings (or, perhaps more accurately said, I don’t think it tastes substantially better than what I get when I’m out of my own)? I think most of my friends have gotten their weddings catered from a place called Diamond Palace?
Most weddings I go to get their food from Manohar’s Delhi Palace. But keep in mind that we are Punjabi, so people from different areas probably order from places that can provide their style of food. We went to a wedding a couple months ago that had a great South Indian breakfast buffet, but then the North Indian lunch was just ok (both prepared by the same restaurant)
I want to say we’ve been to All Star Cafe in Pasadena but don’t quote me on that…
I’ve been eating at Al Noor for over 20 years, so I’ll be the first to admit that I’m biased towards their flavor. I always felt that it was the most “authentic” Indian/Pakistani food that I’ve found in Los Angeles. In the past, I would encounter families of Pakistanis eating in a small dining room with those sepia tinted NatGeo style photos of the regions of Pakistan. Since the advent of Yelp, the space doubled and especially on the weekends, most of the clientele are non-Indians/Pakistanis.
One day, I spoke to the owner’s son, Musab, and he admitted to me that their food is somewhat Westernized, but when they have visitors from the mother country, they will adjust the flavors accordingly. If you don’t feel Al Noor is Pakistani enough, then mention this anecdote and be prepared! I eat very spicy, my favorite cuisine is Thai, although “medium” at Al Noor is pushing my spice comfort zone boundaries.
In terms of Al Watan, the clientele is definitely more “authentic” as you walk in and it’s all Pakistani guys with thick beards. I feel that the clientele demographic speaks a lot about how and for whom the food is prepared for. Al Watan has fantastic grilled kabobs and their Palak Paneer (spinach with cheese) is the best I’ve ever had. Otherwise, I prefer Al Noor.
@Bigmouth, what dishes do you prefer at either?
My favorite Al Noor dishes are Lamb Qorma, Chicken Karahi, Baigan Bharta (eggplant - absolute favorite!) and Bhindi Masala (okra).
In 1999, Jonathan Gold recommended Al Noor’s Nehari and brains curry. I tried those dishes and feel that they’re OK. But for the adventurous, sure, it’s good to experience it once.
I realize that! I’m completely biased. I love more spices with lamb and goat meat. There is a lot of overlap though, whether they’d like to admit it or not, after all it was one country in 1947. I would pit Al Noor’s vegetable dishes up against any other Indian restaurant in LA. Especially the Baigan Bharta (eggplant) and Bhindi Masala (okra).
The problem though is 95% of the Indian restaurants in LA serve cheap lunch buffets. When I order a la carte, I swear, some just heat up whatever is in the buffet. It’s a shame that all the other Asian countries have their respective “towns” in a location relatively convenient to metro LA, but Artesia is really in the middle of nowhere, and I never go there. I’m dedicated, but not THAT dedicated.
It should be mentioned, that Al Noor’s prices are not cheap compared to typical Indian restaurants around town. Around $10-12/dish. My Indian family friends don’t go there because of their peculiar price/value rationale. Russell Peters discusses this phenomenon in depth. But Al Noor makes everything fresh, and the flavors are on a different level from what I’ve experienced elsewhere.
From Jaipur’s website:
Before opening Jaipur, I was a chef and managed restaurants in Germany and Los Angeles for 15 years. I wanted to create a restaurant whose food, service and space is loyal to the flavours of India, but is inviting and satisfying to our CALIFORNIA tastes.
Exactly! NO THANK YOU!
I haven’t eaten at Indian restaurants in Los Angeles in more than a decade. I’ll wait till I’ve tried some again before letting you know they suck.
But if you want home cooking-style Bangladeshi Bengali food, Aladdin on Vermont is always a safe bet (though don’t expect to see any curry house staples on their menu).
For north Indian snack’ish food, India Sweet House on Pico/Crescent Heights was always very good when I lived around the corner–haven’t been there in a while though.
South Asian street food is not to be eaten anywhere outside South Asia. But yes, there’s tremendous regional variation with something like paani puri. The dough of the puri is made diffeently (from different ingredients), the paani is different depending on where you are, and the fillings vary too.
Please to read my nostalgic disquisition on the subject of chaat etc. from a few years ago–the paani puri/gol guppa/phuchka section is at the end.
I know, but it’s pretty much reflective of most of the places we have here in L.A.
London, here I come…
(Funny on a different level, since I am eating my Zam Zam biryani leftovers as I type all this…)
I think I asked some version of this on CH, but is London’s Indian food really THAT much better? I went to a few Indian places when I was in London in 2013. Quite tasty, probably better than what I normally get here, but I wouldn’t say that the food was exponentially better. Did I miss something?
BTW, I also like Jaipur.
Yes. The better places in London would be successful in Delhi as well.
Let me rephrase the question. Are the “better places” in London, like, 50% of the Indian restaurants there? Or are they the top 1%? And are “the rest” of the Indian places there roughly equivalent to what we have here?
I ask b/c I was expecting to be blown away by the Indian food there, and I wasn’t (and I admittedly probably didn’t go to the better places since I think those places weren’t in Inner London).
It’s okay, I felt the same way about Mumbai and Hyderabad.