I'd been wanting to try Surya on 3rd/Fairfax for a while now, so when I got my monthly Indian craving Tuesday night, I figured it was a good time to try it.
Surya is a really beautiful space, with red walls, bright vibrant paintings, and a cozy-but-upscale feeling. You can tell that a lot of care is put into the details - the menu opens with a promise from the owner about the quality and preparation that go into each dish. Sometimes I'm skeptical about those type of diatribes, but in Surya's case it felt real. The owner, Sheel Joshi, was in the restaurant and took a significant amount of time visiting each customer and talking to them about the food. It was more attention than I've ever received at a restaurant, and it was actually really nice.
Surya is a bit more expensive than most L.A. Indian restaurants, with entrees in the $10-15 range. It's similar in price to Bombay Palace on Wilshire, but with a simpler, fresher, more inspired menu. They also have a nice beer and wine list, with about 4 or 5 different Indian beers. We tried a couple of them with our meal, Flying Horse, and India Special Reserve.
The menu had some interesting items that I hadn't seen before, such as seared ahi tandoori. This was a really fresh-tasting twist on typical tandoori. It had that hot-but-not-spicy taste that warms up your mouth, but it was even more tender than the typical chicken version. Weighing in at a sizable 10 ozs (approx), we still powered through it in just a few minutes. I would have liked it to be a little more rare, which I'm sure you can request. Overall, a great dish, and it tasted amazing with the mint chutney.
For our entrees, we ordered lamb tikka masala (it's not on the menu, but they're happy to make it), saag paneer, chicken tikka kebabs, rice, and garlic naan. The chicken tikka kebabs were particularly good, very tender, juicy and flavorful.
One thing I noticed is that Surya seems to use very high quality ingredients and spices. Each dish had a very fresh, full flavor, and you could really taste each of the components. With the lamb tikka masala, I could taste the freshness of the tomatoes in the sauce, and the lamb was so tender it splintered off my fork. Sometime saag paneer includes hard chewy cheese that tastes more like bad tofu, but the cheese in Surya's saag paneer actually tasted like cheese!
If you're in the mood for lighter, more upscale Indian, Surya is definitely a great choice. We left satisfied but not stuffed, and took home a significant amount of leftovers. Total bill was about $80 before tip, which included four entrees, rice, naan, and three 22oz beers. A little more than I wanted to pay, but worth it for a good meal.
8048 W. Third St.
Los Angeles, 90048