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Restaurants & Bars 5

Akbar in Santa Monica

PaulF | Jan 30, 200604:44 PM

This restaurant has been reviewed many times, here, so I won't go into much.

We went to the Santa Monica location even though the Marina Del Rey location is closer because they prepare the food with more heat in Santa Monica.

I particularly love the chutney they serve that is made up of lima beans and corn and carrots. Lots of heat and lots of flavor, too. We ordered onion bhajee appetizer and I heaped on the chutney. Delicious. They were fried, but not greasy. ate one plain and it had a nice carmelized onion thing going on.

For dinner we split two ala carte entrees. We had the chilean sea bass curry (their chilean sea bass grilled is excellent, but we were in a curry mood) and the bhindi masala, which is okra. We also had dal of the day and rice.

I have a difficult time describing flavors some times, particularly when the spices are foreign. The sea bass tasted fresh to me, you could really get the essence of the fish, through the admittedly mild curry. The okra is my favorite, though I'm not an okra fan all the time. But Akbar has a way of cooking it so it's just a little crispy with excellent Indian spices.

My wife ordered naan, but I refrained as I am for the moment trying to reduce and watching my starch intake.

For a long time my wife and I ate Indian food constantly. We ate it at Calcutta Cricket Club/McGinty's, we ate it at India's Inn, India's Oven and Bombay Cafe. But we were spoiled by the superiority of East India Grill, which is still open but not in the original owner's hands.

Akbar is the closest we've found to really great Indian food. We like other places ok, but don't crave them the way we did East India Grill. Akbar satisfies the craving. I recommend Akbar for well-conceived, high quality Indian food.

(One piece of trivia: The brothers who run the Akbar chain were at one time friendly with the former owner of East India. Their father taught the EIG owner to cook - or at least mentored him and shared recipes. So, while the dishes at East India were quite different, the shared emphasis on quality is no surprise. At least that's what they told me during casual, owner-customer conversation.)

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