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Monday, June 30, 2008

An Indian Food Find

Yesterday while running across home improvement stores (Lowes and Home Depot), Jojo and I stumbled upon a small, unassuming Indian restaurant called Angara. We had both talked about having Indian food the day before but could not think of a suitable place to visit. In the past we often lunched at Gaylord (along the Restaurant Row in La Cienega). Other favorites include Bombay (in Torrance, along PCH) and Kabab House of Curry (by the Rolling Hills Estates). But since Gaylord is quite a drive, Bombay has closed down and Kabab has changed its menu, we have been looking around for a good Indian place. So it was serendipitous to have been driving along Torrance Blvd and coming across the small but colorfully decorated eatery.

Angara is a smallish looking establishment from the outside, but opens up to a quite spacious interior. The decor is muted and pretty nondescript. And although we sat at a table with linens and silverware, it would be a stretch to call this place fine dining especially with plastic plants and flowers on their walls, very colorful murals and textiles strewn around and loud Indian disco/techno music in the background. Angara serves a lunch buffet for $11.25 on weekends. The buffet included several dishes, soda and iced tea, as well as a small salad and dessert bar.

Our server was an Indian man who was very gracious, offering us drinks, discussing the buffet dishes, and making sure we were comfortable. Later on his wife hovered over us making sure our glasses and naan basket were constantly filled. And even later still, we saw their young child running around in her pigtails. Several of the other customers seemed like regulars and were greeted as such. It was nice. I actually enjoyed having that atmosphere since it seemed as if we were guests joining their Sunday family meal.

The food was reminiscent of a family meal too. Everything tasted more home-cooked than mass prepared. I particularly enjoyed the basmati rice (the long-grained, fluffy and quite aromatic), the lamb vindaloo (the meat was very tender, the gravy mildly hot and peppery but not so much as they assault your senses), the Vegetable Korma (a savory and sweet veggie stew with carrots, potatoes, green beans and onions), and the pakora (stir fried onion strings). Jojo enjoyed the chicken tandoori (marinated to perfection, grilled till fall-off-the-bone tender, and lathered with cool yogurt and spices), the chicken masala (chicken stew with a tomato paste base that is slightly sweet and slightly tangy) and the saag aloo (a pureed spinach with slices of potato and cheese - for some reason it reminded me of laing a local Filipino delicacy made with gabi leaves and coconut milk). Also, rather than the rice, Jojo was in heaven sopping up the sauces with the warm and crusty naan bread fresh from the oven. The meal ended with Kheer (rice pudding with almonds and raisins).

I truly enjoy Indian food. Whenever I am asked to name my favorite ethnic cuisine, indian food is always at the top of my list. And unlike other cuisine that I enjoy (like Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Thai, etc) indian food is pretty hard and complicated to prepare, which makes finding a good Indian restaurant even more special. This time with our visit to Angara, Jojo and I know that we have come across a winner.


Anonymous said...

Indian food that tastes like home cooked is a must try for me! Your siblings should like this too as they are partial to hot food.

aerodactile said...

I am feeling hungry after reading the blog!

Dore said...

Good words.

Anonymous said...