Indian Oven opened up in the space that Raaga used to occupy. They still have the same phone number, but the space has been modified (part of the dining room is gone) and I think they are under new ownership. I went to the restaurant for dinner there last week with my sister Kathy, who was having a hankering for Indian food, and left mostly satisfied.
Looks wise, Indian Oven doesn’t have much to recommend it for. It’s your typical Indian restaurant, without much in the way of ambiance, but nice enough. You go here for the food, not anything else. The service was quite good, however, and the waiters very young and very affable.
Kathy and I were planning on taking food back home for Mike and Mika, who were at the pool, so we ordered tons of things. We started with the chicken pakora ($4), which was disappointing. The very small chicken pieces has been overly battered and were quite flavorless. To add insult to injury, they were very tough and dry. I got the impression they had been cooked earlier in old, almost stale oil, and then reheated. I would definitely not order this dish again.
Indeed, you may want to avoid all chicken dishes at Indian Oven. Our chicken tikka masala ($10) was equally disappointing. The chicken once again was very, very dry. While I suspect that chicken tikka masala was invented in the first place to use up left over chicken tikka, most restaurants manage to make it with pieces that retain some moisture and flavor. The sauce itself was quite good, a pretty standard masala, and I’d order the dish again, albeit with lamb.
Indeed, both of the lamb dishes we ordered were quite good. Lamb korma ($11) is one of my all time favorite dishes and Indian Oven’s version was pretty good. The lamb was moist and not overly fatty, and the curry was mild but flavorful. Kathy was disappointed by the lack of coconut flavor in the curry (per the description of the dish), but IMHO kormas never taste much of coconut. In all, I was satisfied though I’ve tasted better kormas elsewhere.
The mint lamb ($11) was equally satisfying. Once again the lamb was tender, and the mild mint flavor of the curry was quite alluring. Kathy enjoyed it as well.
Finally, we shared a kashmiri (aka kabuli) naan ($4). It was good enough, though once again not the best version of kashmiri/kabuli naan I’ve ever had. It was s bit expensive for the quality.
In all, our meal was quite good. What we ordered ended up being enough for 4 adults and one child, and the total bill came to $54 including tax and tip. I’d go back there again, though I might give other nearby Indian restaurants a try first.
10110 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Daily 11 AM – 3 PM & 5 PM – 10 PM.
Note: Raaga has closed. Indian Oven has opened in its location.
I was visiting my parents in the SF Valley this weekend, and my sister Kathy suggested that we go to Thai West for lunch, a favorite restaurant in the neighborhood. Alas, it was close for Sunday lunch, so we went hunting for another alternative. Raaga was the first such alternative we found – and I was glad we did.
We got to the small strip-mall restaurant around 12:30 PM on Sunday (July 2008). The place was deserted, and they were just putting out the lunch buffet. I hope people in the area are late lunchers, because no one came while we ate.
The food was very good. The buffet consisted of three meat dishes (chicken curry, goat curry and tandoori chicken), and 2 or 3 veggie dishes – I noticed a vegetable sambaal and some daal, I’m not sure if they had something else. There was also rice, vegetable pakoras, raita and things of the sort. They brought fresh nan to the table, and it was very good, thick and warm.
I loved everything I had. The tandoori chicken lacked the red dye that is usually used to give the dish its distinctive color, but it was juicy and very flavorful, without being spicy. Indeed, Mika, my picky 6-yo, ate quite a bit of it. The chicken curry was both rich and deep, a tiny bit spicy and somewhat sweet, with layers of complexity. It was not the sort of dish you tend to get in a buffet – I really enjoyed it. The goat curry was almost as good, well balanced, rich in flavor, giving you something new, yet familiar (to eaters of Indian food). Kathy tried the veggie pakoras and she thought they were very good as well, Mika even ate a couple of bites without complain.
Service was great, if silent.
The bill came up to $38 after tax. They only charged us for 3 buffets (there were 3 adults and 3 kids, but the kids mostly ate rice), and we had 4 drinks. In all, I thought it was very affordable for the quality of food.
10110 Topanga Canyon Blvd.