Location: 9531 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232. 310-558-8800
Date: July 19, 2016
Cuisine: Modern Indian
Rating: Tasty, adapted, and slightly toned down
The site of the former Ford’s Filling Station in Culver city is a redefined Indian place called Sambar that’s been open for about a year.
They have a nice mix of inside and outside dining.
Some sāmbār snack mix. puffed rice, sev, cashews, peanuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, curry leaves, teff crisps, taro root, toasted dal.
sevpuri chaat (gf cracker). avocado, mango, red onion, pomegranate-mint chutney, tamarind chutney, sev (crispy chickpea noodles). This version of the classic Indian street food with bright and full of flavor, but also felt a bit “California” with the guacamole-like avocado.
The fisherman: fish curry bowl. Trout, coconut broth, cherry tomatoes, curry leaves. Fairly mild in flavor, and very much a southern Indian dish with that coconut and curry leaf flavor.
Masala roasted chicken kati roll. Yogurt marinated chicken & pomegranate-mint chutney. Crunchy fried something. The roll itself was like a lightly Indian chicken wrap. Tasty, but not with the awesome strong curry flavors of an Akbar kati roll.
Pork shoulder vindaloo kati roll. South Indian spices. Hot sauce and mango chutney. Salad. Tasty too, but fairly dry meat, not a curry or anything inside.
This was just a small lunch sampling, and I didn’t have any real curry (which seems to be on the dinner menu). Sambar offered up some definite Indian flavors, but in a much more California form factor, and without the heavy curry vehicle. But while I appreciate that they want to make it more approachable to westerners, I love curry and intense flavors. So jury is still out. I’ll have to try again at dinner and report back.
But alas, I have learned that as of August 27, 2016, the owners are shutting down Sambar and rebooting it as an Italian restaurant — it being too “niche” (i.e. ethnic) for the neighborhood. I’m glad I got to try it. And good thing for them the decor is pretty flexible!