Every level of Indian food I’ve eaten in London is far superior to its analogue in the US: from Sunday buffets at curry houses to hip, casual places (like Gunpowder) to the high-end (for which there’s really no counterpart in the US, outside, maybe, the branch of Indian Accent in New York).
It’s been a long time since I’ve been in Hyderabad, but I’m curious, where did you eat in Bombay?
I was bored so I decided to look at the Yelp reviews on this place. A lot of the low ratings are being handed out by Indian/Pakistani people. Conversely, most of the higher ratings are from non-Indians/Pakistanis. Just thought that was worth noting. (and I didn’t say all, I said most)
I think a lot of Indian restaurants have to tailor their food somewhat to western tastes, otherwise it’s difficult to stay in business. Most restaurants cook what sells, which is usually dal makhani, saag/palak paneer, butter chicken, malai kofta, etc. Most Indian people don’t cook those things at home on a regular basis. Those are party/special occasion foods. Same with things like biryani, goat, etc. And honestly, if I go out to eat, I don’t want to eat the food I eat at home or at my mom’s house, KWIM? So I’ll order the so-so malai kofta instead of the good chicken curry because it’s something I don’t normally get to eat at home. That’s why good versions of certain dishes are hard to find – people will eat mediocre versions that cost less/take less time because it’s better than not getting it at all.
I’m really curious what everyone expects Indian food to be – why do you expect it to be amazing?
Can’t speak for anybody else, but I expect to be amazing “elsewhere” but some people say things like, “The Indian food in LA stinks! Why isn’t good Indian food readily available like it is in London, especially when you have such amazing ethnic eateries and a relatively large Indian population? Geez, even in the frozen Indian food at Trader Joe’s [which I don’t particularly like, BTW] is better. I’m not even looking for GREAT Indian food; I’m just looking for good.”
On CH, this topic came up w/ enough frequency that it stuck in my head. And it gives the impression that the Indian food “elsewhere” is exponentially better.
The “problem” for me is that I actually find Indian food in LA pretty tasty (at least, the places I frequent. I was forced for a work lunch to go to an Indian place in Westwood, and it truly was awful).
And since I find the food here to be good, and since it follows from what others say that Indian food “elsewhere” is THAT much better I expect Indian food elsewhere to be verging on orgasmic. And… it wasn’t. It was like a half step better (IMHO).
I guess an apt analogy is a plain croissant from Chaumont vs. a Sara Lee croissant (the latter is what I grew up w/). I was expecting the difference in London vs. LA Indian food to be that big.
I dunno it it’s better, but I certainly find the Indian food in Manhattan more interesting than in Los Angeles.
I guess it’s a question of what you’re comparing to what. My experience would suggest that random curry houses in London–places that no one gets excited about, for example (Punjab)–are going to be at least as good as places that people get excited about in Los Angeles. If those are the places you ate at by random selection then it’s not surprising you weren’t overly impressed. Better but not fancy or lauded Indian restaurants, like Salaam Namaste, are far better than their counterparts. But the thing to remember is that a curry house is finally a curry house and there’s not very much separating mediocre chicken tikka masala from excellent chicken tikka masala, whether it’s in London or Los Angeles. Nonetheless, the chicken tikka masala in London will usually be less drowned in cream and cashew paste, and spicing is apt to be better. It’s not just that England has a large Indian/Bangladeshi/Pakistani population; it’s also that the white English have been eating this food for a long time (deli counters in Sainsbury’s sell samosas).
In the meantime, the high end Indian scene in London has no analogue anywhere in the US (and there are many of these places, with and without Michelin stars); nor does the hip-casual scene (Gunpowder, Dishoom, Hoppers).
To sum up, Indian food in London is better than that in Los Angeles in more or less the same way that Mexican food in Los Angeles is better than that in London. Except that Mexican restaurants have not made it to the high-end in Los Angeles in the way that so many Indian restaurants have in London.
Generally, I like the curries at Al Noor and the kebabs/tandoori at Al Watan. I really like the lamb palak at Al Noor. I’m going to remember what you said about asking for them to prepare the food true Pakistani style!
Just joshing you, my friend. I welcome your well informed opinions if and when you ever decide to try anyplace here.
That’s my experience. There’s just a wider variety of foods available, including my beloved Kati/Roomali Rolls. I imagine it’s because there are just more Indian people living in and around NYC. If we include NJ and Queens, I believe it’s the largest population of Indians in the U.S. and probably the West. However, I think SoCal is catching up in that regard.
You clearly didn’t eat at the place in Westwood. It was vile…
I certainly didn’t rule out the possibility of there being worse than mediocre chicken tikka masala.
To Boogiebaby’s point above (I think), it would be wrong to expect all Indian food in London or Bombay or Delhi or wherever to be very good, leave alone incredible. But, on the whole, I’d say, again, that the baseline in London is way higher and levels exist there that don’t in L.A or anywhere else in the US.
Was it on Westwood, just south of SM Blvd? Next to the Starbucks?
No, it was in the Village proper. Maybe on Gayley?
I think I’ve been to the one you mentioned, but that was > 6-7 yrs ago (I’ve definitely driven by it, since I used to live in the area). I have no distinct recollection of the food, which means it must’ve been passable… Have you tried it?
Hit Al-noor with a buddy on Saturday under recommendation for good Indian
-chicken Tika masala
-vegetable curry (forget the name, but it was a vegetable mix)
Overall it was decent, ordered medium spicy (in retrospect wish I had done hot)… still felt pretty Americanized to be honest flavor wise, the restaurant was also mostly filled with white families with small children. It was also somewhat expensive, don’t think I’ll make the trip again. Still looking for that deep spice authentic
Slightly west is the Bombay Frankie Company. It has a limited menu and is located in a gas station on Santa Monica Blvd., just west of the 405. I had the chicken tikka frankie in a garlic nan and it had some kick. I don’t recall any tables or seats so plan on eating in your car or taking it away.
Parking is tight but there is a lot behind the gas station.
You’re not talking about Bollywood Bites are you? I always liked that place back when it was just a food truck! Only been to the Gayley brick-and-mortar once, but I didn’t have a bad experience. Care to share more about your experience?
Why are these people making frankies with naans?
Please allow me to torture you.
I could be? I’ll have to check next time I’m in the area. This was awhile (maybe almost 2 yrs?) ago, and I remember one of the sauces being this bizarro shade of red (verging on fluorescent) and tasting totally insipid. I think I thought it was vile b/c of taste + appearance (rather than just taste alone).
First stop, Zam Zam Market for some chicken biryani. Make sure you get extra green chutney. You might also want to give Al Watan a try.
What’s really frustrating is they have parathas on the menu. My review: