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Restaurants & Bars 7

Heart of India Cafe -- Noxious

Jwsel | Feb 13, 200808:57 PM

Living in Sherman Oaks means that I have to suffer the dearth of good Indian restaurants. The best I have found so far is Taj Mahal (yes, I know people have different opinions, but I enjoy it). Monday, unfortunately, Taj Mahal was closed and, in any event, I was workng on an all-night project so delivery was my only option. Checking around, I found a recently delivered menu for Heart of India Cafe on Sepulveda, which has taken over the old Tufaan space.

I will admit that I was disappointed when Tufaan closed. It was overpriced, but some of their dishes were fantastic and far more interesting than most of the Indian restaurants in the area. The menu for Heart of India appeared less exotic, but it did have several mutton dishes on the menu that excited me. I hoped some of the better parts of Tufaan would rub off.

Not by a longshot.

The order was pretty simple -- mutton tikka masala, veggie curry, fish tikka, meat samosa and two types of naan. In ordering, I asked two questions. First, because I had once received incredibly oily takeout from Tufaan, I asked if they could use less ghee in the dishes. Second, I asked if the mutton had bones, because sometimes mutton curry has almost no meat at all. I was assured the pieces were boneless.

After a delivery delay because the restaurant wrote down the wrong address, the food finally arrived. I was almost immediatedly disappointed, because the onion kulcha looked soggy with bits of seemingly boiled onions pressed into the dough.

I tried the samosa first -- and nearly broke a tooth. No, I'm not kidding. The outside was rock hard. Inside, were bits of something brown that had the consistency of bone. At that point, I did something I've never done before. I called a restaurant where I had ordered delivery and asked them to replace an item. To their credit, they did. However, the replacement samosa, while at least capable of being eaten, was rather tasteless.

That, unfortuantely, was also the case for the fish tikka and the veggie curry. Neither had any flavor. The curry sauce for the veggie curry was also extremely watery. And the spicincess which was supposed to be "very, very spicy" and not the "American idea of spicy" just wasn't there.

And, alas, the mutton tikka masala. The first piece I tried was a one-inch bone with a little meat on it. The second piece was a blob of fat. The next two pieces repeated the first two. After that, I gave up.

Which is exactly what I plan to do with Heart of India Cafe. When they brought the replacement samosa, they gave me a $5 off coupon. I don't think there is any chance I will ever use it.

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