Sunday, August 21, 2005


There's no shortage of great Indian restaurants in Los Angeles. We have enjoyed some of the best meals at Bombay Cafe (in Santa Monica), The Clay Pit (in Brentwood) and Bombay Palace (in Beverly Hills). It wasn't until we moved to Eagle Rock that we discovered Pasadena's Akbar (44 N. Fair Oaks Ave.), a local chain of Indian restaurants created by chef-owner Avinash Kapoor.

As soon as you walk in the door, you are immediately distracted by the light show of tall flames erupting from the open kitchen. The aroma of freshly made curries and sauces is so potent, you can smell them from a block away. If you have to wait for a table, angle yourself up toward the counter to watch the chef juggle saucepan after saucepan over the open flames. It's far more exhilarating than that torpid hoedown they do at Benihana. It's too bad the counter space is wasted. I'd love to sit up there and watch the chef do her thing while I chow.

Anyway, we got a nice table by a window and we started by having the Papri Chat which are crispy crackers topped with spicy potatoes. It was a little spicier than we expected. The papadums and samosas were a reliable favorite complimented by the zesty chutneys they leave at your table. The raita was chunky and it came in handy for putting out the inferno in my mouth from the Chicken Chutneywala, a spicy chicken dish made with a mint chutney. If this was a number 4 on their hot meter, I pity the putz who orders a dish with a number 5! The Saag Paneer and the Bengan Aloo (eggplant in a coconut curry) are superior, but the biggest surprise for me was the Chicken Tikka Masala. Akbar has rekindled my enthusiasm for this otherwise commonplace, Indian dish. It was lovely. At the end of the meal, we were still sopping up the sauce with the remainder of the naan bread.

It should be noted that the service at Akbar was unpleasant. On both occasions that we've been there, the waitresses seemed harrassed and run off their feet. Last night, there wasn't even a hostess. It was a clusterfuck and I am ashamed of the fact that I had to get up and physically walk toward to kitchen to ask for my check. oh well. life's tough isn't it.


At 1:02 PM, Blogger BoLA said...

Hmm...went to Bombay Cafe last week (still have to post that up - about a month behind on my posts - eek!) and loved it! But then again, I love Indian food! So much so that I tried my hand in cooking it myself. :) Akbar in Santa Monica was good too, but I tend to like the restaurants in Little India out in Artesia a lot more. More food for you $$$.

At 3:13 PM, Blogger DK said...

I just happened to be in Santa Monica for work on Monday and I stopped by to have lunch at Bombay Cafe...still my favorite!! Brilliant lunch specials with the Thali dishes. I haven't been to Little India in Artesia yet, but have heard many great things!

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At 9:08 PM, Anonymous Vanessa said...

I LOVE Akbar... very tasty. I also like their heat ratings, for spiciness. They don't mess around.

I too love Bombay Cafe; it was my favorite indian food when I lived on the West side.

At 10:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my, I'm in love with the waitress there. The food was good too.


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