If only they had a bottle of Arrack
9035 Reseda Blvd. (hidden somewhere in Northridge)
Phone: 818-998-6900 | map
I came across Priyani during a halfhearted street fair in Encino, tired of ignoring the offers for discounted chiropractic adjustment and requests to join local alliances. Steaming curry dishes, offered with broad smiles from this booth, had me pocketing their menu until I could make my way over to their hidden kitchen.
You will neverevereverever find this place if you were just driving about searching for a new favorite Sri Lankan restaurant between classes at CSU Northridge.
Its interior is an attempt to convert what would be a liquor store or a supermarket space (unsurprising since it's stuffed next to an Indian market) into a comfortable, homely kitchen. Southeast Asian influences abound: red Buddha statues, Thai elephant prints, Indian cloth, tiny Chinese lanterns. Good curry smells draw you in. You may have to ding the bell if the place seems empty, but chopping sounds will be heard from behind the wall.
Enjoy a vibrantly sour but silky iced tea as you peruse the abbreviated menu. There are regular items, but look for whatever they're making that day, and if someone recommends something to you, take it.
This is not a smiley face, but it might as well be. The patti is familiarly shaped, a plush, flaky shell hiding meat chopped into a chicken salad-like filling. The bouncy spheres called cutlets have a lot of give without being oily and abrasive; you can collapse them to half their thickness without breaking the exterior. The flavor is much like the Lebanese kibbeh at Skaf's.
Both appetizers could use more warmth, but a sriyani sauce is available, like a ruddy sriracha with a burst of throat heat.
This is Mutton Kotthu. I could say there's things in this dish like crispy onion, thin slivers of scallion, carrot and tomato, but those ingredients are in lots of dishes across the world, and don't describe the depth of this creation.
Roti, a thin, unleavened bread of Gothamba flour, is cut into squares and rendered until stained dark with spice, its texture like Thai flat noodles--amazingly so. The mutton is as soft as stewed beef, but resilient as faith, imparting its strong flavor to the murky roti. You may need to impale some of it on a fork and wrest it away from the bone with your teeth. It's worth it.
This was a recommendation given to me while perusing the menu; I promptly got lost trying to follow its description and have failed to satisfactorily record its contents, but nodded enthusiastically. It combines lots of their curry and biryani dishes; the entire affair is prepared atop basmati rice, gathered up in a massive banana leaf, and steamed.
There is chicken curry, delicate and moist and indicative of how good their chicken curries are by themselves. Chopped onion is made meek and yielding. Eggplant is deeply colored and tasty. Plantains like reedy potatoes are there, skin included, but steamed soft and yellow with spice.
You know kari,those curry leaves, those tiny ones that aren't bay leaves but are usually placed in southeast Asian dishes to stab you in the mouth and force you to draw them out? These are actually cooked, curling with heat, and soft enough to be edible. Even one of those spherical cutlets is included, falling apart. All of these give a splendid aftertaste and a low-key burn.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Indian, The Valley, Indonesian/Malaysian )
I Dream of Paratha
Farmers Market L.A. - Stall #122
6333 West Third Street (@ Fairfax)
Phone: 323-933-4627 | map
A purveyor of Singapore/Malay/Indonesian/Indian food, this awning-sheltered eatery stands out as one of the better stalls in the famous Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax. It's cash-only, and the paper sign implores you to be patient: this is not fast food. Don't wander too far, however; your number will be called, and your dishes served, charmingly enough, on a banana leaf.
Except for Indian, the cuisine served here is not widely known in Los Angeles, so until we hand over a few SGDs for some satay at the Telok Ayer Market, we cannot vouch for authenticity. All we know is that we dig it.
We think this is what you need to try first. It's roti paratha, a flaky grilled bread, the dough for which is provided by an Indian bakery. It's a little like naan, a little like a puffy crêpe, and a lot like lovely. With the thin but robust vegetable curry sauce clinging to its edges, it becomes sublime. We are going to get this every time we come here, without fail.
Particularly savory is the rendang beef, spicy and suggestive of ginger and coconut. It is somehow familiar, like a chili with gleaming pockets of dark red oils; the solid chunks of beef fall away into striations, to be dragged through the reddish brown sauce. I wonder briefly whether licking a banana leaf clean would be considered poor manners.
Paired with this is a pickled cucumber slaw that has a refreshing vinegar tang; it is protected from the rendang's muscular presence by a cup of white rice.
The Vegetable Tofu Curry is not dissimilar to Thai stylings, full-bodied, soupy and understandable, accompanied by a heap of brilliantly yellow rice. It stains the plastic utensils beyond repair.
With this Bianca likes to get lime juice; it's sour as a spinster aunt who's been left out of the will, but cool and able to take the sun off. I prefer the mango, which is oh! so! revitalizing, as if the soul of all that is "fruit" and "tropical" has been poured into a cup.
Thanks to Ade and David for urging us over to the southern side of the Farmer's Market. You should go buy a t-shirt from them.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), West Side/West Hollywood, Beverly Hills/Wilshire, Indian, Indonesian/Malaysian )