• December 12th, 2009quarrygirlLA restaurants, samosa house

    samosa house east in culver city

    as of yesterday, there is yet another takeaway indian vegetarian restaurant on the scene in culver city (on washington at overland) and it’s called samosa house east. run by the same people who are behind the quarrygirl approved original samosa house just blocks away, the east location occupies a more simple and modern space with a menu that’s similar but with a larger focus on mock meats. with ample seating and no market attached to the restaurant, samosa house east is a great alternative for on-the-go diners who don’t want to muck about with people lining up to buy groceries, etc.

    vegan samosa chat $3.50

    vegan samosa chat $3.50

    i hit up samosa house east this morning, and on their first full day of being open they were still working out some kinks but served me some damn decent food. i ordered a vegan samosa chat which consisted of a crispy fried indian pastry pocket topped with chutney, coriander sauce and curry, all for just $3.50. it was absolutely delicious. plus, the dude behind the counter told me that as of tomorrow, samosa house east will be offering a vegan soy yogurt as an alternative to all dishes that come with real yogurt. so awesome.

    when i was there, samosa house east was still setting up and didn’t have all their dishes out yet. but according to their twitter account, by the afternoon they were serving veggie fish, jackfruit, and smoked cauliflower—just to name a few things! i am so stoked that this restaurant has opened, and once they hit their stride, i think they will absolutely amazing.

    cheap, fast, delicious, meatless, takeout. i fucking dare you to find something wrong with that.

    samosa house east

    right now, this restaurant does not have a phone number and they are still getting their hours sorted out. they should be open from 11am-11pm…but don’t quote me on that.

    here is the samosa house east address, along with the original samosa house website and phone number in case you have questions!

    samosa house east
    10700 Washington Boulevard
    Culver City, CA 90232-3314

    Tags: , , , ,
  • November 9th, 2009mr meanerbawarchi, LA restaurants

    Some fads really bother me: Skinny jeans with Uggs, for example. Other fads have quite the opposite effect, one such being the plethora of vegetarian Indian fast food restaurants that are opening in West LA. The most recent addition to the scene is Bawarchi Indian Kitchen in Culver City, a deli-style shopfront serving up tasty Indian food mainly for the to go market.

    bawarchi vegetarian dude

    Just a few blocks from LA’s original Samosa House, Bawarchi (translation: “Chef”) offers a counter service choice of over 20 vegetarian Indian dishes, many of which are vegan. If you decide to sit in, there are a few small tables crammed together for limited seating.

    bawarchi vegetarian combination with matar koftka (vegetable balls and green peas), jeera aloo (cumin and potato), dal banjara (lentils) and pilau rice. $8

    bawarchi vegetarian combination with matar koftka (vegetable balls and green peas), jeera aloo (cumin and potato), dal banjara (lentils) and pilau rice. $8

    The best value option is the “Lunch and Dinner Special”, where you can choose a rice, 2 pieces of bread (make sure you get the roti, as the naan isn’t vegan!) and and three vegetable dishes from the buffet, a garden salad and pappadum for only $8.

    bawarchi vegetarian combination with bey koftka masala (lotus root), arbi (tarro root), oven roasted lahori jackfruit and pilau rice. $8

    bawarchi vegetarian combination with bey koftka masala (lotus root), arbi (tarro root), oven roasted lahori jackfruit and pilau rice. $8

    If you go with a friend, you can mix ‘n’ match, leaving with six different dishes, and enough salad, rice and bread to fill you up.

    channa patta (garbanzo) and makki da saag (corn and spinach) $4 each

    channa patta (garbanzo) and makki da saag (corn and spinach) $4 each

    If you’re super hungry, an extra $4 will get you a single 8oz size serving of any dish, and you can get two hot and fresh samosas for the ridiculously low price of only $3.

    vegetable samosas. 2 for $3

    vegetable samosas. 2 for $3

    On our recent visit, we got two Dinner Specials, a couple of entrees and two samosas for only $27. As you can see from the pictures, this was A LOT OF FOOD, and has lasted several days in the fridge.

    While the dishes varied in taste and flavor (some were certainly better than others), they were all consistently good, and the portions were a reasonable size for the price – though not generous by any means. What was generous, though, was the huge mound of rice and large Tawa Roti bread that we used to scoop up the food.

    Once you get your food home, you’re in culinary heaven: a place you deserve to be after the difficult process that is visiting the restaurant. From the minute you arrive in the crowded, often full, strip mall parking lot you’re in for a confusing and borderline uncomfortable experience as you negotiate barrier after barrier in your quest for food.

    First, there’s no clear indication on what you should do when you enter the restaurant. Some people were just standing by the door waiting to be shown in, while others sat down at empty tables, waiting to be served (there’s no greeter or table service that we could determine). When you get to the deli counter, a couple of servers are smiling and ready to accept your order, but there’s no clear place you’re supposed to stand for attention, so it’s a bit like ordering a pint at a pub in the UK: you hope to luck out and get noticed in the midsts of organized chaos.

    For vegans, it’s even more tricky, as the chef (who is buried away in the kitchen) is the only person who knows what’s vegan and what isn’t. He kindly wafted into the restaurant, and individually pointed out roughly 16 out of the 20 or so dishes one by one “this is vegan, this is vegan, this is vegan… SIXTEEN TIMES”. All they really needed is some labeling to make the whole process much easier, and we had to get several reminders of what was, and was not vegan, having somewhat limited short-term memory.

    bawarchi vegetarian food

    Anyways, we ordered the following food:

    Bey Kofta Masala (Lotus Root) – An east-Asian style curry that was very sweet, with crunchy Lotus Root.
    Arbi (Tarro Root) – Similar sauce to above, but with a texture similar to well cooked carrot
    Matar Kofta (Vegetable Balls) – Mushy, crispy falafel-esque balls of vegetables in a tomatoey sauce
    Lahori (Jackfruit) – Not my cup o’tea, but seemingly everybody else’s favorite

    bawarchi jackfruit

    Jeera Aloo (Potato and Cumin curry) – Pretty much as you’d expect: Slightly salty, but could have done with more taste
    Dal Banjara (Lentil Dal) – One of the best dishes: Spicy lentils in a perfectly creamy base. I could eat a ton of this stuff, and probably will over the next few months.
    Channa Patta (Garbanzo Beans) – Fresh tasting curry with tangy sauce and perfectly cooked Garbanzo beans
    Makki Da Saag (Corn and Spinach) – Looked, and tasted like the lovechild of a can of spinach and a can of corn. Nothing to write home about.

    vegan samosa

    Samosas – The signature dish of Samosa House, and seemingly Bawarchi too. Perfectly cooked, crispy, packed with vegetable stuff and totally awesome. Even the morning after.
    The rice, bread and salad were all very nicely presented and tasted fresh.

    Along with Samosa House, the flavorings were subtle, bordering on a little bland with not enough spice and heat to any of the dishes. Having said that, though, it’s a lot of food for the price, and really is quite decent as well as very filling.

    In fact, the food was SO SIMILAR to Samosa House that we asked the server if they were related — he told us that the chef had recently left Samosa House, and is now one of the partners in Bawarchi: perhaps he took the recipes with him? Who knows….

    After you’ve been to Bawarchi once, you know what to expect next time, and can, I’m sure, bustle through the place getting exactly what you want quickly and with little fuss.

    Also, we heard that yet another Indian deli-style kitchen will be opening close by over the next few weeks. Add to that a second Samosa House location within a 5 minute drive, and we’re looking at a very interesting place to visit for Indian food lovers such as myself.

    bawarchi interior

    Good luck to Bawarchi – I’m sure that as they perfect the processes in the restaurant and branch out with new dishes things will only get better. Oh, and competition doesn’t hurt either.

    Tip: Bawarchi is slightly better value than Samosa House. Although the prices and quantities are the same, you do get an extra side salad at Bawarchi, and the Pilau-style rice with spices and vegetables rice is much better than the boring steamed basmati at Samosa House.

    bawarchi indian kitchen
    10408 Venice Blvd
    Los Angeles, California 90232
    open daily 11am-10pm

    bawarchi exterior

    Tags: , , , ,
  • December 3rd, 2008quarrygirlfriedel (closed), LA restaurants

    studio city is just a short drive from my house, and usually right off the freeway on my way home from most places in los angeles. so naturally, i am always on the prowl for nearby vegan eats in the valley. recently i was reading up on vegetarians in paradise and noticed a vegan-friendly restaurant very close to my stomping ground. friedel caribbean cuisine is a cute little diner on ventura blvd, offering up tastes from the tropics with an entire section of the menu dedicated to vegan food. yelp reviews of friedel are positively glowing, so i think my so-so experience there suggests i probably picked up dinner when they were having an off night.

    vegan curry chicken: Soy chicken cooked in spicy Jamaican curry sauce w/ butter soft gold potatoes. served w/ rice & peas, cherry tomatoes, and plantains. $9.75

    vegan curry chicken: Soy chicken cooked in spicy Jamaican curry sauce w/ butter soft gold potatoes. served w/ rice & peas, cherry tomatoes, and plantains. $9.75

    when we arrived at friedel there was just one dude working there. he was the host, the waiter, the cook and the cashier…holding the tiny little restaurant together all on his own. he seemed pretty stressed when we walked in the door, but was friendly and helpful when we told him we were vegans and hoping to order an appetizer. it turns out, friedel normally offers vegan rasta rolls, but on this night they were out of the eggless wraps. i felt pretty relieved, because the guy seemed to know his shit—it made me more comfortable ordering from the vegan menu.

    my husband and i split two entrees to-go, the first being the vegan curry chicken. while it ended up being delicious, i have to say i was disappointed when i first opened up the take-out container. the menu advertised gold potatoes, peas and cherry tomatoes…none of which came with my meal. the side of plantains was also pretty pitiful. there were literally THREE PLANTAINS! three little ones. dude, that is NOT a side. that is a TASTE. total jip.

    other than that, the curry chicken was spectacular. the runny sauce was so flavorful and a tad spicy, and the thick strips of soy chicken had the perfect texture. the rice was delightful as well, chunky, well-seasoned, and mixed up with big red beans.

    vegan kung pao beef: spiced soy beef wok fired with peanuts, chili peppers and scallions.  served on a bed of white rice with plantains. $9.75

    vegan kung pao beef: spiced soy beef wok fired with peanuts, chili peppers and scallions. served on a bed of white rice with plantains. $9.75

    we also ordered the vegan kung pao beef, which was not nearly as tasty as the curry chicken. the soy meat itself was pretty good, but there was no sauce to mop up…so the whole dish was a bit dry. the peanuts and vegetables were lovely, but again the side of plantains was a joke. i don’t think i’d order this again, although i didn’t HATE it. it’s just that the awesome curry chicken put the kung pao beef to shame.

    my last grouse about this place is that the wait time for our food was absolutely unreal. i mean, i know there was just one dude there working on his own, and i felt pretty sorry for him—but we waited for our dinner for FIFTY MINUTES. and it’s not like it was a large order or anything. 2 dishes, come on! he should have at least warned us that the window seat in this little caribbean restaurant would be our new home for a large part of our evening.

    when you add everything up, this would seem like a pretty unpleasant experience. there was a long wait for the food, there were no vegan appetizers, our dishes were missing items that were advertised on the menu and the serving of plantains (which i was so looking forward to) was disappointingly small. however, i gotta say i REALLY FUCKING LOVED that curry chicken. even with the crappy plantains and lack vegetables, that dish was damn near perfect. when i look back on my dinner, that awesome taste overshadows all the hassle.

    so i probably will be back to friedel caribbean cuisine at some point, although i’m in no rush. if you are ever in studio city, i suggest you hit them up. i am hoping i got them on a bad night when they were short-staffed. let me know if your experience is any different.

    like every other vegan-friendly restaurant i’ve been to in studio city, friedel is located in a strip mall…so don’t accidentally drive by it. oh man, you just gotta love the valley. 😀

    Tags: , , , , , ,
  • 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!

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • October 9th, 2008quarrygirlindia's grill, indian food, LA restaurants

    curry can be a vegan’s best friend, especially if you get it from a restaurant where the staff is knowledgeable and straight up about ingredients. fortunately for us herbivores who live west of vermont (sorry, ¡yo soy!), the owners of the vegan-friendly hipster hangout electric lotus also have another fine, less trendy indian restaurant on san vicente: india’s grill.

    the service at india’s grill is impeccable, the interior is lovely, and most importantly, the food is delicious. we often get our curry to go, however, because india’s grill is on the way home from my husband’s work. plus, i like to eat dinner and watch twin peaks at the same time.

    because the portions from india’s grill are pretty huge, i usually end up with leftovers. hence takeaway breakfast curry. i assure you, it’s just as good the second time around.

    whole wheat roti ($1.95) with pulao rice ($4.95) and aloo gobhi ($8.95)

    whole wheat roti ($1.95) with pulao rice ($4.95) and aloo gobhi ($8.95)

    i think curry for breakfast is underrated. it’s great to wake up with tons of flavor and food that sets your mouth on fire. gets you ready for the day, i tell ya!

    while india’s grill specializes in several vegetarian dishes that can be made vegan, aloo gobhi is my favorite. potatoes in cauliflower in a light sauce blended together with the perfect spices. i always ask them to make it extra hot, because most curry dishes are too mild for me otherwise. this dish goes perfect with the pulao rice: saffron, grean peas and onions all sauteed together.

    and don’t forget to wrap everything up with a big piece of roti to make a scrumptious curry burrito. i’m pretty sure the naan contains eggs, but the roti is a-ok. just a minute on the grill, and the roti will be as good as new, even on the following day.

    so if you want an indian feast near weho or beverly hills, be sure to give india’s grill a shot. dine-in or take-out, they always rock my world.

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
  • September 19th, 2008quarrygirlflore, LA restaurants

    i’ve been to flore vegan in siverlake a few times, and the food has always been super delicious. this last meal was no different, and it proved to me that flore is not just a great place to dine in, it also provides a lovely take-out experience as well. i ordered my grub on a weeknight at around 7pm, and when i went to pick it up, the place was packed. people waiting, every table full on the inside and outside, phone ringing off the hook with orders. my food took about ten minutes longer than promised, but seeing how busy the restaurant was, i really couldn’t blame them. to be honest, i was just thankful that i wasn’t one of the poor shleps standing around waiting to be seated. finally my order showed up, i paid the disgruntled hipster working behind the counter, and 30 minutes later i was home with my beautiful food. ahhhh.

    the appetizer was as tasty as ever…

    fusion rolls: sliced wheat rolls of nori, black bean, jicama, carrot, daikon sprout and cashew cheese served with lime wedges and a tamari citrus dipping sauce. $8.95

    fusion rolls: sliced wheat rolls of nori, black bean, jicama, carrot, daikon sprout and cashew cheese served with lime wedges and a tamari citrus dipping sauce. $8.95

    normally this dish comes with bell peppers as well, but i decided to pass on those. these little rolls withstood the wait, the car ride, the unpacking, and turned out to be quite an amazing appetizer. they were much thicker and heartier than i expected from the description, and actually could have been a meal on their own. all the vegetables blended together with the smooth cashew cheese for a unique taste that was intensely flavorful and very refreshing. the crisp carrots and jicama added the perfect amount of crunch to the creamy cheese and soft black beans. and the tamari dipping sauce had a citrusy bite to it that went so well with all the fresh ingredients. this roll was anything but bland.

    as a main course, i opted for the flore burger, because i believe that any custom-made burger patty needs to be tried. going in a totally different direction from the grainy ricey burgers at places like follow your heart or m café, flore’s vegan burger is made mostly of black beans. in fact, i’ll be damned if it doesn’t taste almost exactly like the veganomicon black bean burger recipe.

    flore burger: black bean burger grilled and served with sliced tomato, sprouts, red onion, green leaf lettuce and thousand island dressing. served with a side salad. $9.95

    flore burger: black bean burger grilled and served with sliced tomato, sprouts, red onion, green leaf lettuce and thousand island dressing. served with a side salad. $9.95

    being such a fan of flore’s cashew cheese, i had to add it to my burger for an extra $1.50. totally worth it, that stuff enhances all it touches. as you can see, the burger came with so many extra leaves and vegetables, it looked like a salad on my plate. if you look at the picture above, that’s ALL the burger and stuff that came with the burger. i didn’t even photograph the actual side salad. since i love black beans, i fell in love with this dish right away. the patty was thin but juicy and boasted several grains and beans that blended together perfectly.

    while this entree didn’t hold up quite as good as the fusion rolls, as far as take-out food, it put on a pretty good show for a burger. it had to be microwaved a little bit as it was getting cold, and the only thing that suffered was the bun. it got a little tough and chewy, but other than that, the burger was as good as new. one thing that really helped was that they packed it up all separately. in the take-out box flore separated the burger, the vegetables, the sauce and cheese, making for an ideal reheating situation. these flore peeps really know what they are doing. when i get a burger from m café to go, it’s already stacked and i have to peel it apart if i want to warm it up.

    so overall, this take-out experience was on point. i think flore vegan is rapidly becoming my favorite restaurant in los angeles. all the food is perfect, they use tons of black beans, and they have a huge menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner that i will never be able to conquer. if only they had a little more seating and served beer…

    Tags: , ,
  • May 7th, 2008quarrygirlLA restaurants, pure luck (closed)

    maybe it’s out there somewhere, but i’ve not been able to find the menu for the wildly popular vegan restaurant pure luck anywhere online! 

    so, as a service to the public, i’ve taken it upon myself to scan the menu and make it available to you all from your very own home. if you haven’t been to pure luck yet, i can’t recommend it highly enough.

    PURE LUCK MENU (inside)

    PURE LUCK MENU (front and back)

    now you can order pure luck food in advance for take-out, or if you are like me, sit and stare at the menu for hours, plotting what you will have on your next visit and wishing you were sitting in the restaurant RIGHT NOW.


    Tags: , , ,