I had never been to Culver City before; had no idea what was there let alone one of the best ‘Indian Restaurants’ I have ever been to. The quotations are merely because it isn’t a traditional Indian restaurant. In fact from what I have read, chef Akasha Richmond has only been to India a few times and as such remarks that the restaurant is more of a new age Indian restaurant. But I beg to differ in fact.
Sure, when you walk into the restaurant the decor is quite modern. The interior resembles nothing Indian of the sort. But when you take a look at the menu it all of a sudden becomes apparent that chef Richmond’s translation of the spices and the elements of the recipes that make someone like me start to remember their childhood, are remarkable. So, to Chef Richmond I would love to say while she is taking a healthier and creative spin on the food, the spices and the flavors are exquisitely Indian. I will even go as far as saying I agree with the editors of LA Magazine that there really is something for everyone, and I cannot wait to bring my parents (who have a refined Indian palettes) to Sambar.
We tried to order something from each section, for three people, without going overboard. And because Indian food is meant to be shared family style we requested the food come out whenever it was ready, and placed in the middle of the table. First we had the toor dal fritters, and the samosas. The batter was not too heavy and thankfully not dripping in oil. Both were very flavorful and not too spicy but the chutney that comes with the samosas had a really nice kick to it. We then had the pork shoulder vindaloo (the most recommended dish), the Goan chicken xacuti, and the yogurt roasted vegetables. On the side, an order of yellow rice and naan. The vegetables were a little oily, but for once I have to say that Indian food just naturally is unapologetically oily. Sometimes its hard to get around it, so it is what it is. The pork shoulder vindaloo was interesting. A lot of Indian food tends to pick fattier cuts of meat as the fat really contributes to the flavor. The pork shoulder, while it has a fat cap, was an interesting, healthier, and tasty choice. It allowed for some pieces to come out nice and crispy. The chicken xacuti was delicious and the perfect dish to have with the rice. Im used to chicken curry being spicy but im also not familiar with Goan food and I sense it’s aromatic with less heat.
The service was great, the food was fantastic, and the venue was a nice modern twist. I will absolutely be back.
p.s if I ever had the privilege of meeting chef Richmond I have to ask her what life was like being Michael Jackson’s personal tour chef. Wowzers!