All India Cafe -- West LA --> new ownership?

Is anyone familiar w/ what’s happened w/ this place over the last few mos? I thought it (used to be) related to the restaurant in Pasadena of the same name. The place was not gourmet, but I used takeout frequently and have always enjoyed it.

When I tried to order a few wks ago (probably early pandemic), it seemed to be permanently closed.

I was driving by earlier today, and I noticed the lights were on and that someone was standing outside. I checked the website (https://www.allindiacafela.com), and it’s separate from the Pasadena/Glendale one. The menu is largely unchanged, but there is now a section for Thali, which I assume means the new ownership is from the southern portion of India (and which was not on the menu previously)?

Anyone w/ any info or has anyone tried it?

Please report back.

It is my understanding that All India Cafe was started many years ago in Pasadena by the former chef of the late great Bombay Cafe (which many years ago was in the same space at Santa Monica and Bundy where All India Cafe is today before Bombay Cafe moved to Pico and Bundy). It seems like the Pasadena restaurant started by the old Bombay Cafe chef then opened a second location on Santa Monica Blvd. in the old Bombay Cafe space, but that now the two restaurants are separately owned.

Anyway, the All India Cafe menu down to the thalis is virtually identical to the old Bombay Cafe menu. Bombay Cafe eventually closed after its move to Pico. I used to love Bombay Cafe’s chicken soup, uttapam and cauliflower frankies, although I think the quality went downhill in the years leading up to their closure.

Anxious to hear your report of All India Cafe – haven’t had a cauliflower frankie since Bombay Cafe closed.

Just found this - my memory of the history of All India Cafe was right. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1999-feb-18-ca-9195-story.html

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Will do. Wondering, based on what you’ve said, if I should stick w/ the south Indian specialties (although, alas, partner is not generally a fan of south Indian). Well, we can order some northern stuff for him and a dosa for me. :slight_smile:

Somehow although it has been there forever, I never made it to All India Cafe and, in any event, it seems like it may have new owners (and new chefs). So I can’t really comment about what you should order and what would be good.

I was glad to see your post, however, because it reminded me that the place exists and that I should try it one of these days. Which is why I would be anxious to hear your report.

By the way, although Uttapam is a South Indian dish, the two things I enjoyed at the old Bombay Cafe – the chicken soup and the cauliflower frankie – are not South Indian. The frankies, which are like a burrito, are a Bombay specialty and the soup is pretty much Northern Indian.

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Tried it. I actually quite enjoyed it. Was expecting a bit more punch from the Bombay Chicken (description is “Chicken first poached with onions, ginger, green chillies, and spices. Stuffed with dried mango powder, coriander, and cayenne”). There was a hint of sweet and spice, but nothing particularly distinct. No heat.

Perhaps I’ve asked this before, but what do I “do” w/ the sambar that comes w/ dosas? Do I drink it alone, or do I ladle some lentils over the dosa? I should’ve stirred the sambar before drinking; I hadn’t realized that the lentils (and spices) had all settled toward the bottom (it was quite tasty, once I reached the bottom…). Dosa had a nice lacy look around the edges.

The dosa skin was quite soft and the chicken a bit mealy.

Lamb biryani was very nicely seasoned (but the rice was mushy).

I’m giving a pass for the mushiness b/c I was 10 mins “late” in picking up the order, and, well, it’s not surprising that hot food is going to get steamed under the current conditions.

While I didn’t dislike the chicken, I prob wouldn’t order it again. The other dishes were very pleasant. The place is not gourmet, but it’s def a nice local joint. I’m glad to be able to add this back to my rotation :slight_smile:

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Nice report. Yeah, I would have expected blandness with that one. I guess you could have dosed it with the sambar.

One of these days I will get around to trying All India’s frankies. Those were the most flavorful and spicy dishes at the old Bombay Cafe, especially if you asked for extra chilies. I do remember, however, once running into the owner of the old Bombay Cafe socially and questioning her about the frankies which I assumed (especially the cauliflower one) were healthy and she said I didn’t want to know to know what went into them (I think she was referring to copious amounts of oil). Somewhere lying around I have a cookbook from the Bombay Cafe which explains how to make the frankies and everything else that was on their menu (which is pretty identical to the All India Cafe menu).

The sambhar is to be eaten with the dosa. You break off a piece of dosa, make it into a little scoop, scoop up a bit of chutney, and then scoop the sambhar and pop it into your mouth. If you are using a fork and spoon, break the dosa bite onto the spoon and then scoop chutney and sambhar onto the spoon and pop it into your mouth.

I eat my dosa with my hand but sometimes if the sambhar is watery, I’ll break the dosa bite and scoop chutney and pop it into my mouth and immediately follow with a spoonful of sambhar.

For idli and vada, you can put the idli/vada into the sambhar and eat it with a spoon.

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Didn’t realize chutney was eaten w/ dosas (and didn’t see any in my to-go container). The combo of dosa + sambar didn’t make a ton of sense to me, but dosa + chutney + sambar sounds delicious (sweet, savory, salty, tart). Maybe I’ll ask them to include some chutney the next time around… :slight_smile:

Usually dosa, idli and vada come with a coconut chutney, and sometimes also a onion-tomato chutney. These are different than the mint-coriander and tamarind chutneys served with North Indian food. Looking at your picture again, it looks like they didn’t give you any chutney, but their menu online says it does come with coconut chutney so it looks like they forgot it in your order…

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