BADMAASH

ADDRESS: 108 West 2nd Street #104, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Around the time when I started to look around for restaurants in preparation for my trip to E3, I was scrolling through Facebook when there was a recommended video that popped up from Thrillist LA. It featured a spot called Badmaash that was putting their own spin on traditional Indian dishes. Chicken tikka poutine, chili cheese naan, fried chicken dusted with paprika masala, the video had certainly put the spot on my radar. To my surprise, when I looked up the restaurant on Google Maps, it ended up being right in downtown LA, not too far from the Airbnb I had booked for the convention.

After the second day of hitting the E3 convention floor, waiting in long lines, and picking up some more free swag, my brother Kevin, friends Tristan and Okiki, and I wanted to change things up for food that night, so we decided to make an OpenTable reservation to hit up Badmaash. It took us probably about 20 minutes to walk over to Badmaash, which was only a few city blocks away from the Little Tokyo neighborhood. The restaurant itself could accommodate a pretty medium-sized crowd, probably close to 30 – 35 people, if I had to take a guess. The main seating was on the 1st floor, but there were also some more tables up top on a smaller 2nd floor area that overlooked the whole space. We ended up at a table that situated us right by the main entrance.

Not too long after we sat down, our waiter Donald came over to greet us and asked if we had any questions with the menu. We had briefly gotten a chance to take a look over their food options, which spanned a wide variety of chicken, lamb, and vegetarian dishes. Since everything sounded so good, we asked Donald for his opinions as well as his thoughts on what some of the more popular dishes were amongst the diners. All of us were pretty hungry after walking the convention floor all day, so each of us decided to order a plate to share family-style, with an additional appetizer as well. I’m pretty sure that almost all of Donald’s recommendations ended up on our final food order.

The dining room had a little bit more of an intimate feel, with the lighting dimmed down and mini candles placed at each table. A projector above us played some Bollywood movie classics while some Indian music played in the background. Even though the restaurant was relatively packed, the noise level still stayed at a pretty moderate level, allowing you to carry on a conversation with the people at your table without shouting at them.

It wasn’t before long that our appetizer came out of the kitchen: the Punjabi Fish-Fry. Catfish dipped into a chickpea batter that was mixed with spices, lightly fried to a golden brown, and garnished with cilantro, each piece of the fish-fry had a nice crunch and great flavor from the carom seed, paprika, and dried mango dust in the batter. It was unfortunate that it was only five pieces in the order, since it all disappeared rather quickly. Next up came the bulk of our main dishes: the spiced lamb burger, chili cheese naan, ghost chili lamb vindaloo, and chicken tikka.

Between that selection of dishes, I would have to say that the most memorable were definitely the spiced lamb burger and ghost chili lamb vindaloo. It’s been a while since the first bite of a dish made me stop and just say “wow,” but that lamb burger did just that. It was a savory flavor punch with just a hint of heat, elevated by the addition of the cilantro & paprika infused mayo. It was really such a shame that we ordered only one to share between the four of us, because I could have easily eaten the whole thing.

And then we move on to the ghost chili lamb vindaloo. Now normally, when I hear “ghost chili,” I’d be pretty apprehensive about trying the dish knowing that is one of the top hot peppers out there in the world. But when we were talking with Donald about the dish, he reassured us that it was spicy, but not overly so that it would just straight up burn your mouth. For highly spicy foods, I’ve always been an advocate of having good flavor behind the heat so that at least you could enjoy eating the food. (It’s probably why I’m always partial to getting the mango habañero over the blazin’ sauce from Buffalo Wild Wings.) I took a sample of the lamb vindaloo and it truly wasn’t too bad at all. You have the initial hit of spicy that might cause you to start breaking a sweat (which will also linger and slowly continue to grow as you eat more), but once you’re acclimated to it, it’s not too bad. Granted though, my spicy tolerance is higher than other people I know, but the dish was definitely enjoyable to eat.

After we had finished our four dishes, we still didn’t feel 100% satisfied, so we talked about the idea of getting another dish. One item that I had seen on that Thrillist video that put me on the trail of the restaurant in the first place was the chicken tikka poutine, a Canadian dish infused with an Indian twist. We called Donald over to put in the order, and maybe 10 minutes later, it came out of the kitchen.

Let me tell you, I’m so glad that we ended up supplementing our order with that chicken tikka poutine. Crisp fries tossed in a flavorful masala, topped with cheese curds, beef gravy, and chicken tikka, garnished with cilantro, the dish was just exploding with a variety of flavors. When you also fit in a bite with some chicken tikka and get that charred flavor from the grill, it just adds even more depth to the whole thing. Everyone shared the same opinion and totally inhaled the dish; it was all gone within just a few minutes.

What had started as just a random watch of a video in my Facebook feed led to the discovery of a restaurant that does very well in creating both traditional Indian dishes as well as putting unique spins on others. I’ve always had an appreciation for Indian food for the different spice blends used that I don’t find in other cuisines I normally eat, and Badmaash certainly has a wide variety of dishes to help explore those flavors. Now, it’s not just Thrillist LA that is encouraging you to go and try this place out. There’s certainly plenty of food options available to you in downtown, but if you’re in the mood to try something different but still delicious, swing on over to Badmaash.

Let’s now take a look at the Badmaash Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

** Punjabi Fish-Fry **
Catfish fried in a chickpea batter spiced with carom seed, paprika, and dried mango dust.

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** Badass Chicken Tikka **
Traditional “dhaba style” preparation of chicken tikka with yogurt ginger, dried fenugreek, and mustard oil.

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** Spiced Lamb Burger **
Ground lamb spiced in-house, topped with onion, lettuce, tomato, and a cilantro & paprika infused mayo, served on a toasted Breadbar brioche.

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Chili Cheese Naan 2.0
Naan dough stuffed with white cheddar cheese, serrano chiles, and cilantro, cooked in the clay tandoor.

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** Ghost Chili Lamb Vindaloo **
Lamb and potato slow braised in a spicy curry of ghost, serrano, and red chiles.

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** Chicken Tikka Poutine **
Masala fries topped with cheese curds and doused with beef gravy, topped with tandoori chicken tikka and cilantro.

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And finally, here are my rankings for Badmaash:

Food: 5 / 5

All of the food was absolutely on point, with some dishes standing out more than others. There is quite a wide variety of items to choose from on the menu, and many of them certainly sound delicious. All the more reason to take return trips to try more.

Atmosphere: 4.5 / 5

The dining area was a little bit darker with dimmed down lighting. Music was playing in the background, with a Bollywood movie projected onto the wall above us as well. Even though the tables were placed a little close to help maximize the floorspace, I never felt like we were too crowded.

Service: 5 / 5

Donald did an absolutely phenomenal job as our waiter, welcoming us to the restaurant, making recommendations on the dishes, and also answering any questions that we had on the food. He was extremely personable and stopped by frequently to see how we were doing. Food coming out of the kitchen was also paced at a good speed as well.

Price: 4.5 / 5

For downtown LA, the prices were about what I expected them to be. Even though they did lean a little on the higher side, I’m willing to pay it because of the outstanding food and fantastic service that we got.

Overall:
19 / 20
(95%)

Categories: California, Restaurants

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