Thursday, February 22, 2007

Restaurant Review -- Gangadin Indian Cuisine

Last week, on Valentine's Day, I was stuck in traffic on my way to work. The day was just like every other day, I was humming to the radio and thinking about the work I had to do, when I looked to my right and noticed a very cute guy in a pickup truck in the lane next to me.

I smiled.

He smiled.

Traffic moved.

We continued our cat and mouse flirtation for the next few miles.

I soon had to get off the freeway, so I smiled a final time and changed lanes. As I exited, I looked up at Handsome Truck Guy and waved. My goal was to convey, "Hi, thanks for brightening my morning. I happen to be without a Valentine and I know that there are no flowers waiting for me on my desk and I appreciate the attention from such a cute guy. Hope you have a great day."

He crossed over four lanes of traffic and exited after me.

Let me repeat that. He. crossed. over. four. lanes. of. traffic. and. exited. after. me.

In my mind, he suddenly turned from Handsome Truck Guy into Creepy Truck Guy. My innocent wave had apparently been interpreted as "Hey sexy, please follow me. I want to take you home." He hovered behind me in my lane, until I managed to lose him (by running a yellow light). I pulled into my building's garage and heaved a sigh of relief. I was convinced that I had narrowly missed being stabbed in the eye by a psychopath. (Why the eye? I have no idea -- it just sounds particularly painful and frightening.)

Later, D and M informed me that I was crazy. Apparently this is normal in Los Angeles -- in fact, there was once a radio station that had a show called "freeway love" all about this very type of situation. D and M explained that it was part of the "car culture" of LA . If you see someone in traffic you think you may like, it is completely normal to follow them off of the freeway, pull off into a parking lot near a busy place (like Starbucks), and meet the person.

Regardless of whether I'm crazy and totally missed the man of my dreams *or* Los Angeles is more bizarre than I even imagined, a new phrase has entered my vocabulary. "I'd cross four lanes of traffic and exit the freeway for ______" -- meaning that whatever it is, it is something that I am enamored with...perhaps dangerously so.

This long introduction has been the build up to this line: I'd cross four lanes of traffic and exit the freeway for Gangadin Indian Cuisine.

D, M, and I were hungry, tired, and lacking inspiration in the kitchen last Saturday night. We had a craving for Indian food and a vague memory of a menu we had once seen and liked from a restaurant nearby.

A few minutes later we had figured out the address and were parked in front of Gangadin Indian Cuisine.

A cozy room, an extremely friendly waiter, and intriguing menu greeted us. One of the best lines of the entire menu, for me at least, was this one: "All dishes cooked without MSG, butter/ghee, sugar or animal fat." Usually I can't have most Indian food because of the prolific use of butter/ghee (and the propensity for marinating meats in yogurt) -- dairy is everywhere in Indian food. However, a menu free of ghee meant a menu full of things I could have -- I just had to avoid the tandoori dishes (yogurt).

D, M, and I found so many things on the menu that looked delicious that we decided to over-order with the belief that we'd have tons of leftovers. We had the following:

Bread Bonanza -("Combination of 3 breads -Garlic Naan, Peshwari Naan and spinach parantha.") (Sweet mother of all things holy, good, and pure in the world, this was the best naan bread I've ever hand. The garlic naan was pungent and savory, the Peshwari naan lightly sweet with nuts and fruit, and the spinach naan earthy and rich. )

Lamb Korma-("Tender pieces of marinated lamb meat, spiced mildly and cooked with onions, yogurt, and assorted nuts") ( D and M said it was the best lamb they'd ever had. Apparently, the sauce was from God -- I couldn't have any because of the yogurt. Clearly, my loss.)

Chicken Curry -("Chicken cooked in a sauce of fresh onions, tomatoes garlic and ginger.") (Unlike any curry I'd ever tasted, yet oddly comforting, complex, and fragrant.)

Mixed Grill - ("Two piece of seekh kabab, two of chicken tikka, and one piece of Tandoori chicken.") (D and M said it was wonderful. I couldn't have it because it was full of yogurt, but they really enjoyed it. They said the meat was tender, delicately flavored, and charred just right.)

Saag Paneer -("Cubes of homemade cheese and spinach cooked in mouth-watering sauce. ") (We didn't realized until after we had ordered that we could replace the paneer in any dish with tofu. Next time we are going to order that in that style so I can enjoy saag panner for the first time. Again, D and M said it was fabulous.)

Aloo Gobhi- ("Cauliflower and potatoes sautéed with tomatoes, ginger and special ground spice.") (Fabulously delicious. Yum. The cauliflower was crunchy, the potatoes nicely soft, and the sauce perfectly spiced.)

White rice - (self explanatory.)

3 complimentary sauces -- mint, spicy, and sweet. All fantastic -- particularly spread on the naan bread.

We only had a bit of the tandoori chicken and some rice leftover at the end of the meal (which M enjoyed thoroughly for lunch the next day). Everything was wonderful, from the naan, to the meats, to the veggies, to the wine, and we devoured it all. The price was right and the meal essentially perfect. We already have plans to return, there are literally another 20 or so dishes that was are dying to try.

Let me repeat myself: I'd cross over four lanes of traffic and get off the freeway for Gangadin Indian Cuisine.

5 of 5 stars. Eat here. Soon.

Gangadin Indian Cuisine

12067 Ventura Place
Studio City Ca 91604

Lunch: Monday-Friday from 12:00 to 2 p.m.
Dinner: Monday-Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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