A favorite option for Westwood residents and L.A. Westsiders in general, India’s Oven has more than ten years of experience in serving up curries, masala and naan. Weekdays are the busiest in the room’s burnt sienna dining area, thanks to an all-you-can-eat buffet that lasts for three-and-a-half hours. The vegetarian entrées also set the restaurant apart, with at least seventeen different items listed for a la carte dining, while the Vegetarian Delight remains a favorite dinner combination. Diners can stop by the Oven’s Westwood Boulevard storefront for a night of vindaloo and masala, but for those not willing to search for street parking, neighborhood residents have also made the restaurant a go-to delivery option.
Chef Bhupender Singh's menu features popular Indian dishes, which are all made fresh daily and incorporate a delicate balance of spices. A bevy of dishes, such as vegetarian and chicken curries, saag paneer, and chicken tikka masala, can rest their tastes atop a bowl-sized serving of basmati rice ($5.95). Or sidle up to two dishes served with basmati rice or a salad on a combo plate ($7.95). The tandori chicken platter features tender chicken marinated in yogurt and spices, then roasted in Saffron's tandor oven ($9.95), and hot samosas ($1.95) and plain or garlic naan ($0.95) play sidekick to the mealheroes. For cleansing spice-sodden palates, chai tea ($2.75) and fresh mango lassi ($2.95) can be swished around mouth chambers. Saffron also boasts a chutney bar full of homemade chutneys and hot chilies, allowing anyone to spicy up dishes or coat their arms in an ineffective sunblock.
As diners are ushered through Flavor of India's resplendent gold-and-violet veranda, a cheerful greeting of "Namaste" sets the tone for an evening of monarch-level hospitality. The palace-like surroundings make suitable stage for a menu that draws on influence from all over India, attracting a high-profile clientele that includes Keanu Reeves, Jessica Alba, Nicolas Cage, and Curry Monster from Sesame Street. Vegetarian entrees stuff bellies with tofu, eggplant, and paneer, though servers also plate meat-laden curries and vindaloos. Chef and co-owner Darshan Singh also shares his culinary knowledge by leading do-it-yourself cooking classes for curry-smiths of all skill levels.
Ravi and Sunitha Koneru don't much care for limitations. Not in their food, their decor, or their vision. When designing the menu for Chakra Cuisine they saw the entirety of India as a source of inspiration, from the tandoori of the North and the curries of the South to the street food of Bombay and the recipes of their native Hyderbad. And then they looked even further. What they found were ingredients such as banana leaves, scallops, and caramelized pineapples—ingredients rarely used in Indian cuisine that expertly matched the flavor profiles they dreamed up. The result is a blend of traditional and modern, where classic dishes such as chicken tikka masala segue into spicy reinventions, including a vegetable masala quiche.
The dining space is likewise a mix of old and new. Indian accents anchor the sleek, contemporary aesthetic of the dining room and private lounge, while colors drawn from the dishes themselves combine to create a cohesive backdrop. Red and gold dominate the interior, but brighter colors surround the bar, notably inside its seven specialty martinis. As for the outdoor patios, their tables center around a circular fire pit, whose flames tempt guests to sit amid the mandarin-orange trees and tell scary stories about hitchhikers with samosas for hands.
Jaipur Cuisine of India shares more than its name with the bustling city of northern India: it celebrates the region’s culinary heritage. To create its menu of authentic tandoori treats and chicken, lamb, and vegetarian dishes, the owner dutifully shops for fresh ingredients and spices himself, choosing components that are free of artificial flavoring, colors, or bionic implants. What results is a smattering of curries, vindaloo, biryani, and house-made desserts that speak to both authentic Indian tastes and the Californian palate. The soft pinks and golds of Jaipur’s décor encourage relaxation as guests munch on piquant masalas, creamy paneer, and fresh bread from its toasty clay oven.
In an opulent, Eastern-inspired dining room that steeps in the scents of intoxicating spices, Nirvana blends classic Indian cuisine with the sophistication of Beverly Hills. Chefs call on both traditional Indian grilling methods and the excitement of new flavors to prepare an assortment of unusual dishes, ranging from unique curries and tandoori breads to whole legs of lamb marinated in Indian rum and spices. Beyond the vibrant mural and white booths of the dining room, the lounge and bar lure patrons in with the comfort of canopied beds, damask sofas, and the tranquil gaze of a giant Buddha's head. A flowing river—sealed with glass to protect feet from above and seafood escapees from below—runs along the floor and leads guests through each of the restaurant's distinct areas.