I grew up in the pubs and curry houses of England. I distinctly recall dodging in and out of doorways on many rainy nights as I made my way along cobbled streets between The Dog and Duck and Raj Palace in East London. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a pint followed by a curry – indeed, Indian food is now the national cuisine of England!
I’m regretful that Indian food hasn’t really taken off that well in the USA, but most cities have a pretty good choice of excellent restaurants these days, and one of the best in LA is Gangadin in Studio City. We’ve raved about this place before, and couldn’t resist hitting it up again, but this time with a twist: We’d hit up a pub first just like back home!Tags: beer, curry, indian food, the valley
Gangadin, an Indian restaurant on Ventura Place that’s close to the intersection of Laurel Canyon and Ventura Blvd. would otherwise be an average Southern Californian interpretation of a Northern Indian curry house, but it smashes through a barrier of mediocrity by offering a special menu for vegans. I’m not talking about a typical vegan menu where meat is substituted for vegetables (kindly for the same price), but a REAL and seriously prepared vegan menu with a respectful kitchen and staff that are knowledgeable about what a vegan is and what we require as dietary predicates. All of this in an omnivorous environment with a cool vibe and convenient location.
As it happens, I’m weeks away from hosting some omnivores that hail from England: recognized as the home of Indian cuisine, so following a recent post on the Quarrums, we decided to do a dry run of Gangadin so we could check out the “vegan friendly” options on the menu.
Upon arrival, we were searching the menu for vegan items (the word “Vegan” doesn’t appear anywhere), and were planning to play the substitution game with long faces until we noticed the “ask about our vegan menu” subtitle on the front page. Upon reading that, I went to the rear of the restaurant to ask about vegan offerings (as our server was at best inattentive, at worst rude) and was handed “GANGADIN’S VEGAN MENU”, so I scuttled back to our table, and we began to order with aplomb.
First, we had the Tofu Pakoras. In some ways, they reminded me of the vegan fish and chips at Weird Fish, as they were slabs of firm tofu fried in batter and perfectly seasoned. It’s a fact that I’ve eaten Indian food in all 13 continents (including India), and this is by far the best appetizer I’ve ever had. In fact, it was so good I was tempted to order another serving as a main dish!
Next, we mixed it up with Aloo Gobhi (potatoes, cauliflower and vegetables)…
Saag Tofu (spinach and tofu)…
all washed down with a Vegetable Biryani (Rice, vegetables and spiced)…
with a side order of Spinach Paratha – basically two paratha breads with steamed spinach stuffed inside and cooked in a hot Tandoor oven.
The quality of the food was superb — with or without it being vegan. The spices and textures worked very well together, and the seemingly endless supply of condiments and biryani rice gave a rather filling feeling to the evening leaving us most replete in our quest for curry.
I’ll proudly take my English friends to Gangadin, and while they enjoy their omnivorous whatevers I’ll sneak to the back and order from the vegan menu that (until now) was only available if asked for when visiting. Minor gripes like reheated potatoes and vegetables that were frozen before cooking (and, yeah, I can tell for sure) pale into insignificance with a menu like this. Gandadin might not be the best Indian restaurant in LA, but the fact it has a special vegan menu (even though it is mysteriously hidden) speaks volumes about what we vegans can expect these days in regular restaurants. here’s the vegan menu so you can see for yourself:
Do you know of the poet Rudyard Kipling? If so, you’ll certainly know the poem Gunga Din. It ends with “Tho’ I’ve belted you and flayed you, By the livin’ Gawd that made you, You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!”. Kinda sums up Gangadin (sic) in many more ways than one.
GangadinTags: curry, indian food, studio city, the valley
12067 Ventura Pl
Studio City, CA 91604