Restaurant: Akbar [1, 2, 3, 4 5]
Location: 3115 Washington Blvd, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292. (310) 574-0666
Date: March 30, 2016
Rating: Bold and balanced flavors
It’s time for my my Hedonist group to return to LA’s best Indian restaurant, Akbar (Santa Monica branch). Too many Indian places focus on low cost buffets of very over cooked food, but Akbar cooks everything to order — even baking their own Naan when you place the order. They are more focused on the cuisine of the Punjab (Northern India), with very good curries and kormas. You can get anything from extremely mild to blow the top of your head off. Once I had the “pepper lamb” on 5 (max heat) and my scalp sweat for hours.
This was one of those really crazy evenings where we took over half the place with 25 people and even more wines!
Fellow Hedonist Chef Avi commands the kitchen!
Avi’s Kale Salad with Balsamic Mango Dressing. Not your usual Indian dish, but a nice refreshing salad with a good mix of textures and a bright sweet/tangy flavor.
Chana Samosa. Sort of Indian loaded baked potatoes, potato samosas covered in yogurt, tamarind sauce, curry chickpeas, and more. Awesome tangy, spicy, sweet, curry flavors.
Poutine du Yarom. The big guy requested this one. Fries with curried lamb and fried egg! Good stuff, and certainly not on the vegan diet!
Ground meat skewered and cooked over the fire. One of the Indian variants of Kafta kabob.
Lamb Chops. My friend Dave declared these the best lamb he’s ever had. Incredibly soft and full of fabulous lightly spicy flavor!
Chicken 65. Spicy south indian specialty served with serano and onion. Hot wings crossed with chicken nuggets! Hottest dish of the night.
Mushroom Pilau. Rice with mushrooms and maybe a bit of meat.
House favorite Chicken Tikka Masala. Another perfect batch of this amazing dish. The chicken itself is all super tender chunks of white meat. The sauce has this snappy tang and complex flavor.
Shrimp Goa Curry. Shrimp prepared in onion, coconut and tamarind sauce with sauté of mustard. Some found it too sweet, but I loved this — nice creamy sauce too.
Goat curry. A rich, dark, strong curry with chunks of flavorful goat. It is, after all, the most eaten meat in the world.
Kaddu Ki Sabzi. Butternut squash cooked with coconut powder with sauté of mustard and red chilli peppers. Very Southern Indian dish with that coconut and black mustard.
Apollo Fish. White fish battered fried served with tomato onion bhuna.
Shrikhand. Whipped yogurt with saffron and pistachios.
Gulab Jamun. The classic sweet dough/cheese balls in syrup.
This was such a big dinner that wines were many, varied, and chaotic. For the most part, not the really good stuff, and a whole bunch of the New World swill, but a few tasty fellows.
Bonus from Arnie: NV Marc Hébrart Champagne Premier Cru Brut Mareuil-Sur-Ay. 90 points. Light straw. Larger but good bubbles. Toast, apples, okay depth. Nicely done.
Bonus from Ron: NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé. VM 92. Pale orange. High-pitched red berry, orange zest and jasmine aromas, with suave mineral and smoky lees notes adding complexity. Spicy and precise on the palate, showing very good punch to its strawberry and bitter cherry flavors. Opens up smoothly with air and picks up a bitter rhubarb quality that lingers onto the long, tightly focused finish. This bottling showed more brawny character than many past renditions of this cuvée, but with no lack of vivacity.
2013 Cyril gautheron Chablis Mont de Milieu 1er Cru. Never heard of this Chablis!
Ron brought: 2002 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett. 90 points. Crisp green apples, with some slight honeyed notes on the palate. A little sweet, with not quite enough acidity.
Arnie brought: 2012 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese. 93 points. Crisp aromas of passion fruit, nut oils and cinnamon. Rich, sleek and invigorating, but with creamy tropical fruit flavors remaining light and ethereal. Well-balanced, elegant and impeccably long. This does not have the depth of the auction wine, but at present more it offers greater drinkability.
From my cellar: 2000 Trimbach Pinot Gris Sélection de Grains Nobles. VM 93. Bright medium gold. Superripe aromas of apricot jam, exotic spices, honey and tobacco; just misses the clarity of the best SGN bottlings from this producer. Very dense but not hugely unctuous thanks to firm, perfectly integrated acidity. Sappy, vibrant and very long on the aftertaste.
From my cellar: 1996 Maison Roche de Bellene Latricières-Chambertin Collection Bellenum. 93 points. A wonderful 1996 Burgundy. Needed a few minutes to open up, but then was great. Plenty of upfront plush rich cherry, still dominating the subtle emerging mushroom and forest floor flavours that should develop well. Lovely balance of acidity and some spice on the finish, makes this all too drinkable (I only wanted to have half a bottle, but it all vanished!)… slightly too sweet now for my liking, but that is evidence of the (further) potential here. Drinks extremely well now, but will easily cellar and improve for another 10yrs. Recommended.
Fernie brought: 2012 Occidental Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast. 90 points. Oaked fruit juice.
1999 Marqués de la Concordia Rioja Reserva. 87 points. A little thin, although had some character. Not bad for a cheap Rioja.
Ron brought: 1970 Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Ygay Reserva. 93 points. Still vibrant and dark red, a little VA but not off putting, surprisingly strong fruit and good acidity with a little dill on the finish. Plenty of life left in this one.
2003 M. Chapoutier Châteauneuf-du-Pape Croix de Bois (magnum). VM 91. Light red. Wild aromas of charred meat and garrigue add complexity to the sweet notes of raspberry preserves, candied cherry, red plum and subtle white pepper. Explosively fruity Chateauneuf du Pape with no rough edges to its lush strawberry and candied raspberry flavors. Finishes with excellent length. way too young.
2007 Domaine de la Janasse Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée Chaupin. Vinous 94. Opaque ruby. Spicy raspberry and cherry aromas are complicated by garrigue and Asian spices. Sweet, focused red fruit flavors are given spine by zesty minerality and pick up an exotic floral quality with air. Expands nicely on the finish, leaving behind sweet lavender pastille and raspberry notes.
2006 Monti Coroni Amarone della Valpolicella Classico.
2005 Pax Syrah Walker Vine Hill. VM 93. Opaque purple. Sexy blackberry, mulberry and candied licorice aromas, with a gentle graphite accent. Silky in texture, displaying a full array of sweet dark berry flavors and outstanding depth and focus. Very fine tannins add support to this extroverted bundle of fresh fruit, with tangier red berry notes coming on with air. The fruit carries impressively through the bright, seamless finish. This is the highest in alcohol of this year’s releases at 14.8%.
No info on the front, no review.
2013 Justin Vineyards & Winery Cabernet Sauvignon. Can we say young?
2008 Troll Bridge Cabernet Sauvignon.
Not even in Cellar Tracker! Impressive.
2010 Eighty Four Wines Petite Sirah. Some reviewer liked this enough to give it a 93.
2013 Predator Zinfandel Old Vine Rutherford Ranch Vineyards. Oh lord, I don’t even love 70s Zin.
Lipper brought: 1997 Turley Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard. VM 94-96. Black-ruby. Bright, spicy, very complex aromas of blackberry, black pepper, iodine and brown spices, plus a lively floral note. Extraordinary fruit offers great sweetness and intensity. Thick yet almost miraculously poised. Finishes with endless, palate-saturating fruit and exhilarating Christmas spices. Always a monumental wine from Turley.
agavin: if I’d noticed this was ’97 I’d have tried it just to calibrate my semi-mature Zin palate.
Akbar has long been my favorite LA Indian, and this meal was probably my best yet — and very different than usual. Chef Avi really turned out a lot of unique things tonight, including a bunch of southern specialties. And the wines were really great too. All in all an excellent night.
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