I live in the South Bay and I would drive by this Days Inn motel on my way to and from places over the past few years. I've seen numerous restaurants occupy the space attached to the motel.... and, one, after another, they fold. This doesn't surprise me since I rarely come across a motel-associated restaurant worth going back to. So, I didn't have high hopes when I saw this indian restaurant open up (given the poor track record of the location and the number of indian restaurants in the area). I wasn't planning to deviate from my usual place until I got one of their menus stuffed in my mail box announcing their grand opening. Much to my surprise, they are part of a small cluster (3, I think) of Indian restaurants in the LA area, one of which I used to frequent off of Wilshire back in my college days.
My wife and I decided to get some exercise and walk there. It was about 2 weeks after their grand opening. It was us, some crickets chirping (if you know what I mean), and the very welcoming host (I think his name is Ravi or Robbie).
The first thing I noticed is that the restaurant was clean. There were fresh, clean linens covering the tables. The booths looked recently reupholstered. The ambience was bordering on romantic with dim lights. ... or, maybe just eco-friendly (hah!).
I opened the menu and they had all the usual Indian dishes with all the usual vague descriptions. We were immediately greeted with what I call the Indian restaurant version of chips and salsa... aka papadum and chutney, which were complimentary (much to my surprise since they have it on their menu as an appetizer). The papadum were crisp and had a nice spice to them. The three condiments were interesting. I have no idea what their names are.... one was a reddish-brown condiment that tasted sweet (kinda reminds of hoisin.....maybe it was tamarind based), another was a vibrant green sauce which packed some heat, and the other was a pickled carrot mix.
My wife and I ordered a la carte... tandoori chicken, a lamb curry, some vegetarian dishes, and some naan. The manager/owner was exceptionally friendly. The service was good. We didn't have to wait to have the water glasses filled. My wife and I enjoyed the food. My wife likes things mild and I like them spicy, so we asked for medium (so I suppose neither of us would be happy... only kidding) but I think our waiter/manager/owner looked at us and thought to himself "we'll give them white person medium" which means no heat at all. All the food tasted fine. The tandoori chicken came out sizzling like a platter of neon fajitas. The chicken was moist. The lamb curry was VERY mildly spiced but tender. I think we ordered the saag paneer (honestly, I don't recall). The naan basket was generous and warm. We had eaten our fill and had some leftovers to bring home.
Overall, my wife was pleased and I thought to myself, this was a tasty and convenient new restaurant..
Since the initial visit, we've been back about a half-dozen or so times. The manager now recognizes us and always gives a very warm greeting. I'd say the restaurant has never been packed at dinner time but it's getting busier (good sign) and there has never been even a 1 minute wait. They apparently do a brisk lunch buffet and are doing more and more banquet parties in their banquet room.
Now, when we go, my wife and I order combo platters (her the vegetarian) and mine the meat combo. They are finally making much closer to my heat level of enjoyment (and if you tell Ravi/Robbie to make it extremely hot, I have no doubts there may actually be some pain and major sweating involved).
I think I've narrowed it down to my favorite dishes, the chicken tikka (white meat, moist), the lamb dopiaza (very tender lamb and the gravy is nice), the bengan bhartha (nice roasted flavor... there was an unexpected but not unwelcomed slightly sweet flavor), and the daal makhni. My wife really enjoys the alu gobhi (cauliflower).
I find the portions to be good sized, fairly priced, and I have never left hungry. The service is always attentive. I'm hopeful it will carve out a permanent spot in the crowded restaurant landscape here in the South Bay.
While I'm by far not an expert on Indian cuisine, I'm happy to report one of my coworkers who is from India went with his wife and told me he thought the food to be authentic and tasty as well (for whatever that's worth... ).
I'll be adding this place into my regular rotation, which will displace my other current South Bay indian fav. (Sorry Addi's Tandoor, while I enjoyed your food, this place gives more food for less money.)
I think this is a place that South Bay'ers should give a chance.
Bombay Tandoori & Banquet
4111 Pacific Coast Highway, Torrance, CA
Star Rating: 8/10