Chef Rafi did not create Fresh Kabobs to get rich. He finds his reward in the opportunity to share authentic Indian dishes, such as tandoori chicken breast and grilled whole tilapia, with families in a casual, welcoming atmosphere. Inside his kitchen, chef Rafi draws from his pantry packed with USDA-choice Angus beef, fresh vegetables, and lamb imported from New Zealand to prepare each dish to order. Seated at dark-wood tables in the brightly lit dining area, patrons split spicy curry bowls brimming with basmati rice and sip mango lassis freshly blended with yogurt and spices. The dining area's high ceilings seem to extend to the stratosphere, past the red-tiled eaves and sky-blue murals dotted with fluffy white clouds shaped like cubes of paneer.
Kamal Palace specializes in tandoori, a kind of Indian cuisine where meats ranging from jumbo shrimp to chicken are marinated and roasted in a traditional clay oven. The eatery has nestled in the Long Beach Marina for more than three decades, complementing its tandoori offerings daily with fresh curries studded with tender morsels of seafood, chicken, lamb, or veggies. Curry bases range from coconut cream to delicately spiced tomato. Diners can mop up the delectable sauces with fluffy naan and other flatbreads, which double as a cautionary tale for rolls prone to careless jaywalking. Wines and imported beers, including Taj Mahal and Flying Horse, round out the menu and delicately counterbalance the well-spiced cuisine.
At Tava Grill and Lounge, owner and chef Punita Patel infuses her seasonal menu with Indian flavors and fresh, local ingredients. The paneer fajita tacos, for instance, ooze authenticity along with housemade cilantro mint chutney that can double as smelling salts for a food-comatose date. The seafood biryani paella evokes both India and Spain with a blend of shrimp, mussels, squid, and crab in a creamy curry sauce.
A separate menu in the lounge marries the food of India and California, as the atmosphere fuses nightclub and fine-dining establishment. Beside a softly lit bar, benches and ottomans are scattered around low tables, which break up regular tables and booths without the staff having to dig trenches around each.
Using traditional ingredients, Mughal Halal Tandoori has created an extensive menu of authentic Indian entrees bursting with a variety of flavors. Send taste buds down a culinary river with a range of Indian breads, including garlic naan (stuffed with freshly diced garlic, $1.50) and aloo kulcha (paratha filled with mildly spiced mashed potatoes and peas, $2.50), before docking at curry port, which is occupied by the likes of murgh makhni (butter chicken curry, $7.95) and tala ghost (lamb curry, $8.95). In addition to specialty dishes cooked in the tandoori, Mughal Halal Tandoori serves up a variety of vegetarian options, such as the bhindi masala (mildly seasoned okra, onion, ginger, and garlic, $6.95) and the bagara baigan (Indian eggplant cooked Hydrabadi style, $6.95). Cleanse a spice-soaked palate with the mango lassi, a traditional Indian drink churned with yogurt and milk and flavored with mango ($2).