Most aficionados of Indian food living in the Verdugo corridor know and love India's Flavor, a cozy restaurant in Sparr Heights near Montrose. The food at this family-run eatery is consistently delicious. Only problem is people are often bumping elbows with neighboring diners in the tiny dining room.
Not anymore. The delightful Sikka family has just opened a second location on Brand Boulevard across from The Americana. Down a steep flight of stairs, the cavernous new space can seat five times as many people. While the place could definitely use an interior decorator, I'm happy to report the food is just as good as at the Verdugo location, if not better, and the service is unfailingly friendly and professional.
Our waiter was patient and helpful as we fashioned a meal for eight that would hit all the highlights of their menu. When looking at curries, there are a number of choices to make. First off, which kind? There's vindaloo, jalfrazie, masala, korma, coco and others. Then you choose your add-in meat or fish, or you can keep it vegetarian. Choosing the spice level, one to five, comes next. The vindaloo is the one to try at spice level five (I like it with lamb, $14). It puts beads of sweat on your upper lip and burns for a minute or two after, but while you're eating the scrumptious, creamy curry and tender lamb, it's perfection. The golden-colored korma ($11) is nice with just a little heat and features substantial vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes and carrots. The masala curry with its creamy tomato-fenugreek-saffron sauce is rich and satisfying with the tandoori chicken added in ($13).
They have a tandoor at India's Flavor, a cylindrical clay oven that imparts a hearty flavor to their tandoori chicken, shrimp and lamb, as well as to their wide selection of outstanding naans. The garlic and onion naans ($3-$4) are perennial favorites but you've got to try the Kashmiri naan ($5). Raisins, nuts and coconut hide inside the fragrant flat bread for a lightly sweet surprise that fits in well with the spicy curries.
The daal makhani, or lentils in butter sauce, is nothing to write home about. And the saag paneer, potatoes and home-made cheese cubes in creamed spinach, is just fine. No, our fun thrill of the evening came right at the beginning with their excellent bhel puri. India's favorite railway snack, this mix of puffed rice, crispy chick pea noodles, potatoes, onions and chutney is a collage of textures and flavors you eat with a spoon and a splash of the accompanying sweet tamarind or spicy mint sauce.
A few things to keep in mind about India's Flavor: Parking can be tricky. Allow extra time for it. They offer take-out and, happily, free delivery within 2 miles. There are good-looking daily lunch specials for $11-$15. And vegans will be overjoyed at all their options.
Indian restaurants are hard to find in Glendale, but you don't have to compromise. India's Flavor is one of the good ones.
LISA DUPUY has been reviewing area restaurants since 2008. She welcomes comments at LDupuy@aol.com.
What: India's Flavor
Where: 156 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale
Contact: (818) 500-7655Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun