A few years ago, we went to India for our friends’ wedding in Panna National Park. On our way there, we stopped off in Udaipur and spent a week eating our way across the gorgeous city. Known as “the Venice of the East”, Udaipur is a lake city in the northwestern state of Rajasthan—India’s historic palace region. The stark white Lake Palace literally floats on its own in the middle of Lake Pichola, while the sprawling ornate City Palace complex lines the lakeshore. Every day we toured the temples and palaces in total awe of their ancient beauty…and then we ate and ate some more. The food in India is quite different from the Indian food we had experienced in the U.S. The spices were more flavorful, the sauces smokier and richer…and yet it left us feeling light and energized instead of bogged down and sluggish. A big fan of veggies, I loved that every menu was always vegetarian as the norm. It’s amazing what thousands of years of perfecting vegetable-based recipes can do. In India, the food has become another art form right alongside their textiles and handcrafts. An art form you can blessedly indulge in all day every day.
After returning back home to LA, all the Indian we tried just seemed to pale in comparison. That is, until we got word of a hush-hush little secret joint in the heart of East Hollywood that supposedly serves up the best, most authentic Indian in the entire city. We were assured this was as “real deal” as we could possibly get. Intrigued, we knew we had to put it to the test ourselves.
When you drive up to the nondescript storefront of Paru’s on Sunset, you could easily cruise right on by without even noticing it. From the outside, it doesn’t look like much of anything. The caged windows and doors might have you second-guessing if this place is even still open for business. Park your car on a side street (mind the parking signs carefully), walk up to the front entrance on Sunset and ring the bell. They’ll buzz you in. Stepping through the barred door, the restaurant suddenly opens up into the sweetest little slice of Indian heaven this side of the Ganges.
The service staff is instantly warm and welcoming, making you feel right at home as you sit in their tiny piece of paradise, draped in bold colors like a Maharaja’s tent. Filled with Indian families and couples, we knew it was a good sign that we had come to the right place. We started with an order of Masala Dosa, a huge lentil batter wrap stuffed with potatoes that tastes like comfort food at its finest—warm, crispy, light and delicious. Then we moved on to the main courses. The Bengal Bahadur and Punjab Glory entrée plates are essentially the same thing, except the Bengal plate comes without bread, so is perfect for gluten free-ers. Each comes with basmati rice, delicate sauces and yogurt to accompany your main course. You can select two vegetable curries per plate. We ordered the cauliflower with potato, spinach & lentils, chickpea curry and yellow split dal between us. Each had its own rich, complex flavor, but my personal favorites were the cauliflower and the yellow split dal. Truly though, you can’t go wrong. The food here lived up to our immense expectations, as authentic Indian as we had anywhere in the motherland. With the very first bite, I was instantly transported back to India. My taste buds lit up and everything in my body shouted out with glee, “This is IT!!!”, joyously remembering these taste sensations buried deep in my cell memory. I could practically smell the naan cooking in brick ovens that floats through the air across India and feel the hazy gold-filtered sun on my skin.
If you’re looking for some real-deal Indian food, and a little adventure, we cannot recommend Paru’s more highly. The service is lightning fast, the wait staff incredibly kind and the food is the most authentic we’ve had the joy of experiencing in LA. If you want a sweet little taste of India, walk through those gates and treat yourself to some foodie paradise deep in the heart of Hollywood.
Paru’s is located at: 5140 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027. (323) 661-7600. Open from 5pm-11pm. http://www.parusrestaurant.com
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