It's been years since I've dined at Annapurna, a Vegetarian Indian restaurant in Culver City. Thus, when they had a deal on groupon a few months ago, I was excited at the prospect of returning. I'm not quite sure why it's taken me so long to go back. The food is very delicious and reasonably priced. Nevertheless, the moment we stepped inside the spacious, yet cozy interior, we were immediately ignored. Finally, someone noticed us and pointed out a table for us to seat ourselves.
We were given way too long to look over the menu and when the waiter finally came over, we questioned him about which dishes were Vegan. He had no clue what we were talking about and I immediately found my stomach tying in knots, in fear we would be served dairy. Scanning the menu again, we opted for dishes which traditionally do not have dairy in them and requested to the waiter that everything be made without dairy. I figured that even if he did not know what was vegan, the kitchen staff would.
My rasam soup ($4) came out first.
Rasam soup is my favorite Indian soup and Annapurna did it very well. The soup was very spicy and had a tangy flavor. There was a strong taste of tomato with notes of basil. The rasam soup was very smooth and slurpy with a small amount of chunkiness. The soup was accompanied with some crispy crackers that were soaked in oil and had a lentil flavor. They were even more delicious when dipped in the soup.
Next, we had the Assorted Appetizer Basket ($11).
This was such a great assortment and mostly featured Southern Indian delicacies. The crispy fritters were my favorite and were juicy vegetables deep fried with a moderate spice. I also enjoyed the samosa and lentil donut, as they were also beautifully fried and had great textures and seasonings. The spongy idly was a great contrast to the fried food and was so soft and delicate, with a light spice. The appetizers came with a great sampling of chutneys, my favorites being the slightly sweet coconut and tomato chutneys.
Next, our entrees came out. I first tried the Bombay Pav Bhaji ($9).
This was a lovely Indian version of Sloppy Joe's. The buns were very oily and lightly cooked and worked perfectly with the messy gravy sauce. The gravy was very spicy and the taste of tomatoes were dominant. It was seasoned very well and left an intense heat in my mouth, that had me continuously grabbing for my water glass.
Lastly, we had the Masala Dosa ($7).
Dosas are my favorite Indian dish, although they are overly complicated to eat. The potato concoction was not evenly distributed, so my friend ended up getting most of it, despite cutting the dosa equally in half. The crepe had a great texture and was so soft and easy to chew. The sambar and chutneys added a great spice and sweetness to the crepe, and softened it even more.
Overall, I really enjoyed the dinner. The food at Annapurna is certainly flavorful and very spicy. My recommendation would be to request a milder spice on the food, unless you enjoy your mouth being on fire. The food prices are a little more expensive than comparable Indian restaurants, although still decent. With the groupon, we each spent $14 (with tax and tip). I would definitely return, although I will probably wait until they have another deal.