Today I had lunch with a good friend I hadn't seen in a long time. She's vegetarian (more precisely a starchitarian) so I suggested Samosa House, as it was close to her place and I had never been there. It turned out there are two Samosa Houses, the original Samosa House and Samosa House East, so we met at Samosa House East.
The set up is much like a cafeteria, with steaming trays of various curries behind the counter. The dining area is very open and well lit, with one large dining table in the middle and several smaller tables along the windows. Outdoor seating is also available.
They don't have an expansive menu, but it can still seem daunting with all the choices. I ordered a three item combo, a samosa, and a mango lassi.
For the three item combo, you get your choice of three of the items available at their food counter. I opted for aloo baingan, saag, and the veggie chicken. The aloo baingan was made of potatoes, eggplant, as well as the requisite spices. I like aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower), so I thought I would give the aloo baingan a try, and it turned out I like it just as much as aloo gobi. The potato kind of disappears into the dish, but the eggplant pieces are prominent. It looked as though the eggplants were green rather than purple, but they didn't taste bitter like an unripe eggplant or even a ripe eggplant which can also be quite bitter. For me, the aloo baingan was more about textures than the wonderfully rich spices, and if offered a stark contrast to the other two dishes I got.
The saag was pretty straight forward, consisting of spinach and spices. I prefer saag paneer (spinach and cheese), but that appears to be a dish exclusive to the original Samosa House. It wasn't bad, but the other dishes were so good that it kind of got pushed to the back.
The true standout of the meal was the veggie chicken. It had to be good, since even hours afterward it was still on my mind. The veggie chicken came in bite-size chunks in what appeared to be a peanut-based sauce. It's not that it tasted exactly like chicken or even had the exact texture. The texture was similar to chicken in the way the grain followed a mostly uniform direction, but it was chewier. The closest food I could think of that the veggie chicken most resembled in terms of taste and texture would be an Asian fish meatball. Now bear with me, as I know that might be gross to some people, but if you've ever really had an Asian fish meatball, like in Japanese oden, then it's not at all like, say, an Italian meatball. It's more processed and it doesn't taste strongly fishy. It's difficult to explain unless you've had it, which might also be the case with the veggie chicken. All you need to know was that it was very good. I will go there again just for the veggie chicken.
The combo also came with a choice of white or brown rice (I got white) and plain or garlic naan (I got garlic of course). The garlic naan (which is like a lightly-toasted bread) came hot and buttered and could be used to dip in the different sauces, although I ate it straight.
I also had a samosa, which seemed superfluous in the context of all the other food. It was good, but I'd have to say I actually prefer the samosas from Whole Foods. Weird, I know, but I could easily see it being the other way around for other people. Perhaps it was because I was so involved with eating the other food that I neglected the samosa until it was a little cold.
Complimenting the meal was a mango lassi. I don't really like mangos, but the mango lassi was pretty good. It was a little tart, but not overly so, and only the slightest bit sweet. It did an excellent job of clearing the palate and keeping all the different flavors distinct after each bite.
It was a very good experience eating at Samosa House East, made richer with the companionship of an old friend. If the food hadn't been good, I still would have had an enjoyable experience, but the fact that it was good only made things that much better.
Some other notes about Samosa House East:
- For some reason I'd been thinking of some place I made up in my head called Samosa Hut that I wanted to eat at, when I realized later there really was a place called Samosa House. Subconsciously ("Inception" anyone?) Samosa House got into my head. Then when I took one of their business cards, I realized I had seen it before, as it turned out I already had one. Wherever did I get my hands on it?
Samosa House East
10700 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232