Thursday, November 1, 2007

Ambala Dhaba Restaurant - Los Angeles, CA

I realized that staying in the Bay Area, I have visited so many nice restaurants that I have neglected writing about the ones I have loved visiting in other places! You do tend to get biased for the place you live in, but then again, its also because in Bay Area I have discovered a culinary heaven like nowhere else. I know I know...some of my friends from the East Coast are going to pounce on me for this, but hey, I believe in what I see:) I spent almost 2 years in Los Angeles, CA, and there are definitely a few restaurants worth mentioning. One such quaint yet appealing place is the Ambala Dhaba, a reasonable restaurant in Westwood Santa Monica that appeals to me not only for their food, but also the ambience!

Located between Santa Monica Blvd and Massachusets Avenue in West LA, this Indian restaurant has a setting of a "dhaba", or a village-like setting that makes you feel like you are sitting in a small cottage with a thatched roof. Dhaba is actually a nick-name for food joints along roads and highways in India so people can stop over for food and some rest on their long drives. This idea might not be so attractive to non-Indians who have never been to a place like this before, but trust me, it's cozy and comfortable. The entire place is decorated in a rustic fashion, with ancient Indian props, and delicate lighting is provided using standard lamps which are covered with dry-grass-like material to give it an old-world look, yet lively, unintruding and pleasant at the same time. The walls have large paintings of Indian village life on one side, while there are LCD TV's playing indian music on the other end for people who are interested in tuning to it.

Next comes the food. I wouldn't say that it is inexpensive, definitely not a place for everyday lunches or dinners, but it is very reasonable. They have vegetarian and non-veg entrees, and other than a few curries and biryani which is a bit on the higher side, the average price ranges from 9 to 12 dollars, which I think is standard for a place like Westwood. The quality of food is excellent. It's not like they reheat food and serve it to you. You can actually feel the authentic north-indian flavor and spices in the curries. the breads are fluffy and tasty, and there is a wide variety to choose from, some unusal ones being Makki Paratha, Amritsari naan, Pudina paratha and the Ambala Kulcha. They also have seafood, lamb and goat for the meat-lovers and the Vegetable Biryani is highly recommended.

Among drinks and desserts, the Almond shake, Pistachio shake, Rasmalai and Malai Kulfi available in several flavors is a must-try! The service is a bit slower compared to some other restaurants I have been to, but the food is worth the wait. Overall, I'd give it 8 on 10 for the cute and homely setting and the tasty food that could make any occassion a special one! So the next time you are in Los Angeles, give Ambala Dhaba a try and come back to share what your experience has been.

1781 Westwood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90024
The Menu

Ambala Dhaba in Los Angeles

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