>> Chargha House | Eat the World Los Angeles

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Chargha House


EDITOR'S NOTE: An updated version of this article (23 February 2024) is available as part of the Historical section of our Substack page. Check that out here:
To see the word "chargha" used in the name of a restaurant is an immediate transport back to Lahore, where the various famous food streets have many places to try the dish that originates in this capital city of Pakistan's Punjab province.

Looking into restaurant windows reveals long skewers of chicken that have been marinated overnight in yogurt and spices. These are ready to be placed over charcoal grills in front, creating big clouds of smoke day and night, or into a tandoor. Here in Culver City, they do the latter, with specially made skewers that hook at the top of the oven.

The menu at Chargha House has an image of Minar-e-Pakistan on the front, a tower built in the 1960's in Lahore and now a national monument. With the city so prominent at the Westside restaurant, it is with great confidence that you can order the city's most famous dish. A whole chicken is cut into 10-12 pieces and sold for $17.99, but you can place an order for chargha half chicken ($9.99, above) if necessary.

Pakistani-run restaurants often give you more chances to sample beef dishes, and true to form there are eleven choices under the beef section. This is what they make their haleem ($9.99, below) with at Chargha House, a spicy wheat and lentil stew that uses shredded meat.

The stew is fantastic and spicy, but does not attack the tips of your tongue and lips. It works on a slow burn as you progress and comes after you with a very satisfying layer of spice within the complex flavors. The bulk of the volume and color comes from a mixture of lentil and wheat, while the meats have been cooking for many hours.
On other dishes they sometimes ask you what spice level you prefer, but the haleem only comes in one option. Naan ($1.50 each) is available but seems like a packaged version heated up rather than freshly made. For your carbs order a massive portion of basmati rice for $3.99.

On the beef section of the menu the following proclamation is made: "All beef dishes are boneless." Thankfully this is not the case for the bowl of beef paya ($12.99, above), which is made with the heel and hoof of cows (you can also order it made with lamb).
As always, paya is quite an oily fatty affair, but here possibly more so than ever. It contains plenty of rich spicing but this bowl was cut with a few squeezes of lime at home. The fatty portions of cow foot are all in there and great for lovers of this type of soup.

"Lamb dishes are not boneless" proclaims the lamb section of the menu, proven by the really tasty lamb karahi ($12.99, above). Tender hunks of lamb are cooked in a tomato-based stew with plenty of ginger and garlic. Some pieces of bone still contain the marrow, which is enjoyable to pick out and add to bites with rice.

While some better known Pakistani restaurants are further south on the 405 in Hawthorne and Lawndale, Chargha House is an above-average option for Westsiders that do not want to travel too far. It has been a reliable Culver City neighborhood pick for many years and probably will be for many more.


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