• The Samosa House: Doesn’t Deliver!

    October 27th, 2008mr meanerindian food, LA restaurants, samosa house

    It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of Indian cuisine. Growing up in the UK where it is, of course, the national dish has enabled me to be quite discerning when Indian food is placed in front of me. So, I was delighted at the prospect of visiting the Samosa House in Culver City this past weekend to try their extensive vegan selection (they have seven vegan and three vegetarian entrees).

    a samosa with potatoes, chickpeas, lentils, potatoes w/ long beans, bitter melon, spinach tofu and jackfruit.

    a samosa with potatoes, chickpeas, lentils, potatoes w/ long beans, bitter melon, spinach tofu and jackfruit.

    Well, I can tell you that the experience started off really well. The restaurant is deli-style, where orders are placed and served from heated containers right in front of you in a very clean and orderly environment. The service is excellent – the nice man behind the counter described all the dishes, including which were vegan. We could not decide which of the seven to taste, so we ordered them all as two 3-side samplers (with rice and bread) for $7.99 each, and one side (for the odd man out, final entrée: more to come on that).

    The seven dishes were as follows:

    Potatoes: Pretty much as the name suggests – lightly spiced potatoes served dry in no sauce
    Chickpeas: Your common chickpea curry served in a light sauce
    Lentils: Usually my favorite side, lentils served in a dark, creamy sauce, of which more later
    Potatoes with Long Beans: The name says it all – again, not a very saucy dish
    Bitter Melon: Seemed to be small fruits in a tangy sauce. Much more of a condiment than a side, if you ask me
    Spinach Tofu: Creamed spinach and small tofu chunks (although there were al most no tofu chunks in ours)
    Jackfruit: Pure Luck style jackfruit in a dry curry sauce


    We also had a very hearty serving of rice with each sampler (in fact, the rice accounted for around 60% of the volume of each container) and two small chapatti breads. Of course, we couldn’t help but order two of their signature samosas which were wrapped and fried right there. No microwaved samosas wrapped in foil here!

    We ordered the dishes to go, and hightailed it through West LA as fast as we could to get home – largely because carrying Indian food in your car leaves a lingering odor that lasts in direct proportion to how long you carried the food for. Although our journey was only about 20 minutes, I could still smell the curry in my car the following morning — even though we carried it in the trunk!

    And, they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Well, our pudding wasn’t that great to be honest, which was a real letdown from the nice service in the store and great looking food from under the heat lamps. I couldn’t help but notice that, when the server was spooning out the food, he was diving deep in the containers for solid matter, and the two saucy dishes consisted almost entirely of sauce. The spinach had basically no tofu in it, and what was there was clearly crumbled detritus from the bottom of the container. To make matters worse, the lentil dish was almost entirely brown watery sauce, and almost no lentils. This was a REAL PITY for two reasons:

    1.) I love lentils.
    2.) The watery sauce leaked into the rice on the way home.

    Although those dishes were the low point, the rest of the food didn’t really stand out at all. The potatoes were mushy and overcooked, the melon dish should no way have been served as an entrée – it’s like being given a side of salsa as an entrée — and everything was just too dry. Also, there was waaaay too much rice. Between the two samplers there were at least four servings of rice which, of course, takes up the most space in the containers and costs significantly less to serve than the other dishes.

    Now I think about it, the server gleefully filled the container with so much rice that he had to push it out of the way to spoon on the very small portions of the other food, so no matter how little he served, the container looked full by the time he gave it to us.

    The samosas were only OK as well, which I really hoped would not be the case. One of them was adequate, and the other was about 50% air inside, meaning that the food preparer had not stuffed with enough filling before frying. The picture below is of the adequate samosa, and you can see many air pockets in there, as well as my MacBook Air right behind it. Talk about lots of air in one picture….

    One highlight (so I’m told) was the jackfruit curry. Personally, I don’t get all the fuss about jackfruit when there are perfectly good vegan proteins out there (tofu and seitan are fine for me!), yet my eating partner/wife is very partial to jackfruit and assured me that it was the best she’d ever eaten (albeit from a limited sample of Pure Luck tacos and THIS). I thought it wasn’t BAD, but the picture kinda shows what you have in store. If that’s your thing, I guess you will love it:

    Inside the establishment there are aisles lined with Indian and central Asian produce. Everything from large sacks of basmati rise all the way to the Indian national junk food of English chocolate bars (if you ask me, we English got the good end of the stick in THAT ethnic cuisine exchange). I’d probably eat in there sometime, and feel very much like I was in a deli in New York, except the place is clean, light, welcoming and has nice clientele.

    On the whole, Samosa House will cater to the uninitiated Indian food eater that doesn’t really know or understand what they are getting, and who probably has never had Indian food that’s any good. Sloppy end-of-run servings and dried up potato dishes really don’t do justice to the subtle splendor that is Indian food.

    I wish Kunal and Vibha well with their enterprise and hope that they can focus on preparing more food that they are proud of, rather than below average and pathetic imitations which serve as ghosts of the amazing cuisine that is so defining of their great nation.

    samosa house
    vegetarian indian cuisine & eastern indian market
    11510 w. washington blvd.
    los angeles, ca 90066


    open 7 days 11am to 9pm

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8 responses to “The Samosa House: Doesn’t Deliver!” RSS icon

  • mr. meaner – STFU and don’t be so apathetic about the jackfruit! you KNOW that shit was off the chain. admit it, dude!

    otherwise, you are spot on. the food was a bit runny and heat-lampish. BUT the bread was amazing and it was served up in less than 2 minutes.

    for a quick cheap meal, i say it passes. but all the shit you complain about is true as well.

    mmmmmmmMMMMm. jackfruit.

  • I think you have to eat there to get the full appreciation 🙂 We’ve been getting our Indian Fix at Chandni in Santa Monica, where they will even do all the vegan dishes oil free. You’d think in LA the Indian food would be off the hook, but I haven’t found a thing that measures up to the Indian goodness back home in St.louis that kept me alive over the years.

  • I must defend Samosa House! I eat there all the time and love it, primarily because of the jackfruit and secondly because I find their seasonings to be a bit more aromatic than others and thus distinctive.

    I have introduced at least a dozen people to the place and they all raved about it.

    The fact that you got the bottom of the barrel from food warmed under a heat lamp means you probably went on an off-hour (the sun is up in your pictures…) I have had the unfortunate experience of getting the scrapings too, but it is rare. Give it another shot on a weekday evening when there is a lot more foot traffic.

  • Wow, and I’ve heard so many good things about Samosa House. Thanks for the heads up… though I think I have to agree with miss anthrope on this one because that jackfruit looks really freakin’ good to me!

    My favorite of these quick stop deli/market shops on the Westside is “India Sweets & Spices” on Venice, just a few blocks up from Krishna temple (which has yummy food too). I’ve been going there for years and the food is always delicious. I’ve seen numerous complaints about their “curt” service but I’ve never had a problem there. Sure they don’t dance & sing & roll out the red carpet when I show up, but the awesome food and spicy pungent Indian pickles more than make up for it… not to mention the giant display case of fresh Indian dessrts. Damn, now I’m hungry!

    (I don’t meant to be rude by writing this little mini-review in reply to your review… I just wanna make sure this place is on your radar as well in case you haven’t tried it yet!)

  • what a shame–when I read <> I was excited about adding this place to our lunch rotation at work, but it sounds like that wouldn’t be the best idea after all!

    We go to Annapurna on Venice a lot which is always really good.

  • Mr. Meaner – I really don’t know what you are talking about. I go to Samosa House all the time, frequenting the place at least 3-4 times a week, sometimes twice in the same day. The Jackfruit is absolutely heaven and none of my meals there are complete without it. They change their lentil dish everyday and I especially like the Yellow Lentils. Some of their specials like the Lotus Root and the Cauliflower dishes are out of this world. OVerall, I haven’t found a single dish that I have hated, unlike your experience. And believe me, I’ve had Indian food from my childhood having grown up first in India and then in NYC.

    In my view, their samosas are perhaps the best in town. The potatoes and peas filling is just perfect and what makes them even more special is the sauces that come with them, a red-colored sweet sauce and a green-colored spicy sauce. And as you yourself mentioned, they fry your samosas up fresh, so they are nice and hot when I have them.

    You also mentioned that their service is really nice. They make me feel right at home with their personal touch and recommendations – and they make it a point to let their customers have a taste if anybody has a doubt as to what a particular dish is like.

    To top it all off, they have recently switched their packaging from styrofoam to “Green” containers. They’ve also got rid of their plastic bags and now use paper bags for groceries and take-out meals.

    All of this makes Samosa House my favorite Indian place to go to. I’ve already recommended about 10 of my friends to this place and so far every single one of them has loved it! You must have just caught them on a bad day… Maybe you ought to visit once more and have your meal there – sometimes that helps!

  • I really like Samosa House..I can agree that the saag sometimes looks a bit bleh.. but I’ve had so so Indian food but I always love the seasoning of theirs. *shrug*
    To each his or her own 🙂

  • These comments are for those that HATE cilantro. I hate cilantro. I think cilantro should be listed on every menu for each dish that it is served with. If I had know cilantro would not only be sprinkled on top but also mixed in every vegan dish, I never would have gone to this restaurant. By far the worst Indian restaurant that I have ever eaten at due to the over use of cilantro.

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