>> Famous Tandoori | Eat the World Los Angeles

Monday 31 January 2022

Famous Tandoori

Pacific Coast Highway facade

COVID-19 UPDATE: The dining room and a small patio in the back parking lot are open for dining.

While "Indian" is always thrown into the descriptions of Pakistani restaurants around town to bring in more casual customers seeking chicken tikka masala and samosas, it is easiest to differentiate them by signs advertising halal cooking in the window. This always unlocks a few dishes that are usually not seen in non-halal Indian restaurants, and of course the beef section of the menu.

Famous Tandoori has been on this high speed section of the Pacific Coast Highway for over eight years now, originally taking over a spot that was home to a rotating door of Mexican restaurants that closed one after the other. Eventually the next door real estate office moved out and Famous Tandoori expanded into their space as well, creating a much larger dining room in 2019.

Recent takeout order of lamb pulao, haleem, and chicken keema

Since the pandemic began, much of the business has continued to be takeout. The location caters to halal eaters in Lomita but also to those in the know that are zipping past on the PCH or up and down Western Avenue. It seems to always have South Asians on phone calls waiting for pickup, busy with their businesses or lives but knowing they can rely on Famous Tandoori for a good meal.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are popular for quick thali lunch specials for $11.99, offering three different chicken entrรฉes on one plate, dhal, naan, and chutney. On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays there are some other assorted specials, dishes that take more time to prepare and are only available on their respective day.

Chicken keema with basmati and mint cilantro chutney

The staples at Famous Tandoori are all adequate to well above average, nothing will leave you unhappy. The chicken keema ($10.99, above) is well-spiced and goes well with a side of basmati or piece of naan if you are dining in the restaurant. This dish of ground chicken is one of many that can also hold up well for takeout, to be eaten right when you get home or many days later. South Asian foods have a definite knack for this.

As mentioned, the halal signs in the window always make available the beef menu at Pakistani restaurants, a meat that the country could not live without. One of their most ubiquitous and beloved beef dishes is haleem ($10.99, below), with shredded meat in a thick soup made from wheat, barley, and lentils. Barley is often one of the major tastes, but here it is as forward as ever leading to a very earthy and non-spicy version.


By far the best day to come is Friday, when you can enjoy the kitchen's extremely wonderful lamb pulao ($12.99, below), which has been that day's special for quite some time. Basmati that has completely absorbed up all the stock from cooking is the bed for a hefty shank of lamb.

This rice cooking technique is the main difference between pulao and biryani, but the former also uses less dramatic spicing and lets the meat do most of the talking. Even without the lamb shank, the dish would be delicious, its rice full of aromatics and sublimely fatty and buttery.

Lamb pulao (Friday special)

On the Friday the order was picked up, an immediate lunch was necessary and the zinger burger ($8.99 with fries, below) looked delicious on the menu. Unfortunately what arrived was not quite as interesting as that photo, but the much thinner chicken patty was flavorful with spices and served with a slice of melted cheese and their house mayo.

It is never a bad idea to order the fried chicken sandwich at halal South Asian restaurants. The upgrade of one dollar gives you enough fries to split between three or four people if you are not eating alone. Ask for a side of the mayo they put on the sandwich for dipping if ketchup is not your thing.

Zinger burger with fries


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