I moved to LA a few years ago from the SF and really miss the great Indian and Thai food up there! They are my two favorite cuisines but I've yet to find a place in the Westside or let alone LA that would even rate as average in the Bay Area. I know overall for such a big city, LA has the rep of being a vapid culinary desert, but I generally find that only to be true if you stay within the trendy LA LA land circuit. If you wander into the ethnic neighborhoods, there is some great food to be found. I've had great Korean in k-town, Japanese in Torrance, Chinese anywhere near San Gabriel Valley. The question is, where is the great Thai and Indian food??? I'm looking for places in the Westside as we rarely like to drive more than 15 minutes to eat (have kids now) but I'd be willing to travel up to 45-min on occasion but the food needs to be exceptional!
Up in Mountain View there is a fabulous Northern Indian restaurant called Amber. I just ate there last week when I was in the Bay Area, and it made me kinda depressed because I can't find anything in LA which is even remotely close to as good. Even the run-of-the mill Pakistani-Indian fast food hole in the wall in SF (Nan'n Curry for instance) rates better than anything I've had in LA. That's downright pathetic... As to what type of Indian food, I don't care if it is Northern, Southern , Pakistani etc... I pretty much like it all except vegetarian only is not my first choice. Indian places I've tried in Westside:
Dhaba - OK
Akbar - overpriced crap
Nawab - mediocre
Pradeeps - pretentious crap on Montana, may be healthy but tasteless too...
Chandni - horrible buffet, extremely disappointed considering all the hype on Yelp.
India's Oven - don't remember but not memorable.
Jaipur - mediocre
Ambala Dhaba - good the first time, but disappointing my second time
India's Tandoori - some of the worst Indian food I've ever eaten
Chutneys - rates well compared to others on this list but's it's fast food...
Nizam - my favorite Indian place 20 years ago when I went to school here. Either food has gone downhill or my taste buds have matured.
Bombay Cafe - OK but overpriced.
Clay Pit - OK. Closed though.
As for my Thai food experience in the Westside. Some REALLY REALLY disturbing trends: 1) If they give you chop sticks, run for the hills. They rarely if at all use chop sticks in Thailand. The restaurant is run by Chinese. 2) Please don't give me Chinese rice with my red curry. I want jasmine rice like you get in Thailand. 3) If the rice is clumpy, they reused old rice by adding water and microwaving. Again run for the hills. Thai places I've tried (virtually all are guilty of one of the above):
California Vegan - oddly the best Thai food in the Westside
Thai Dishes - tastes like Chinese people making Thai food.
Pot & Pan - meh
T's Thai - crap
Typhoon - I want real Thai not fusion
Siam Chan - cheap fast food
Chan Dara - the worst crap I've ever eaten in my life
Greenview - good the first time, crossed off list after 2nd and 3rd visit.
Natalee - OK
Tuk Tuk - not memorable
I suppose I need to go to Thai Town to get great Thai food but the 2 or 3 places I randomly picked in the past were all underwhelming. Definitely spicier than the bland fare on the Westside but they were all cheap eat hole in the walls with subpar meats and vegetables. In NY and SF you can find authentic Thai and Indian flavors yet using the finest of ingredients. Does such a place exist in LA? I'd think it has to with 15M+ people...