Badmaash Indian restaurant in downtown Los Angeles is a place I have continually heard about and I am pleased to report that this small, yet comfortable eatery is doing a few things interestingly different with Indian food. Billed as an Indian gastro-pub and only serving beer and wine, the alcohol menu is as compact as the food choices, but everything we tried was spot on.
The restaurant is owned and operated by two brothers with Toronto roots who wanted to bring their vision of Indian food to the streets of Los Angeles. They had done their research with visits to all of the hot and trendy places in London, where some of the best Indian food can be found, and after an 18-month build out process, they have been open since early summer.
The restaurant is quite small, although there are additional fifteen or so seats upstairs. Downstairs the tables are spaced very closely together, so if you have a hot date and want to engage in some intimate conversation, this might not be the right venue. Indian art adorns the walls and a Bollywood movie is projected, as the prompt and efficient service carries on.
When it comes to the beer, at Badmaash you really can’t go to wrong by ordering Kingfisher ($6), an Indian beer which pairs perfectly with this kind of food, but there are some good alternatives such as the popular Stone IPA and the Oaked Arrogant Bastard Strong Ale from Stone Brewing. However, if you are into the Belgian brews, then there are a couple of choices including the sublime Lips of Faith Coconut Curry Hef ($24 for a 22oz flagon).
The wine list is much smaller which is perfectly acceptable for a restaurant of this sort with six reds including a couple of Malbecs, two Pinot Noirs, a Cabernet and a Spanish Tempranillo from Zamora. The seven whites on offer thankfully include a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and a Riesling (always a good option w/spicy food) from Columbia Valley, Washington. Bottle prices range from $27 up to $48.
However, it is the food that you go to Badmaash for, and the top of the list has to be the old standby, Chicken Tikka Masala ($13) that is one of the best I have tried. Start out with an order of the Punjabi Samosas, which are especially good here. I tried all three varieties on the menu, plus a special thanksgiving version that was featured in Bon Appetit and enjoyed the Butter Chicken ($7) version the vbest—deep fried heaven.
The Sliced Mango Pork Belly ($15) is a must selection, and slow cooked in its own juice with a wide array of aromatic spices and seared with spiced mango chutney. I have also heard rave reviews about the Lamb Burger ($13) although I did not try it this time around, that is ground and spiced in-house and served with spiced mayo, onion, lettuce and tomato on a brioche bun. The other must try is Slow Braised Beef Short Rib ($15), which is dry rubbed with cinnamon, red chili, turmeric and cumin and then slow braised with tomato and onion.
A quick word about the desserts which were all surprisingly good—especially the mango, a lovely touch for the mouth after the spiciness of the earlier courses.