Badmaash (Los Angeles, CA)

Badmaash
108 W 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 6/21/13 and 7/16/13

badmaash exterior

Badmaash opened earlier this year in downtown LA, on the border of Little Tokyo, Civic Center and the Historic Core. I think it’s one of the more unique concepts to open recently calling itself an ‘Indian gastropub.’ Most of the menu offerings are traditional Indian fare, but it’s mixed in with some intriguing Westernized, “pub” twists. The most unique of these is perhaps one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes – chicken tikka masala poutine. Seriously, when I heard about this I knew I had to try it.

Opposite the food on the gastropub concept, Badmaash has a pretty lengthy wine and beer list. However, the beer list is surprisingly pricey, with 12oz. craft beer bottles like Stone IPA starting at $8 (no beers on draft).

badmaash interior

Chicken Tikka Poutine crisp masala fries topped with chicken tikka and cheese curds, doused in brown gravy

Chicken Tikka Poutine crisp masala fries topped with chicken tikka and cheese curds, doused in brown gravy

Working in the financial district of downtown LA, one of my guilty pleasures is combining Saffron’s chicken curry with french fries from the next door McDonald’s (it’s so good!). This dish honed in on a similar pairing, with crunchy spuds topped with a rich, cheesy gravy and chunks of surprisingly juicy chicken. The gravy was borderline too thick and I wished the fries were extra crispy (to better hold up to the sauce), but this was still a pretty tasty poutine.

Butter Chicken tandoori-charred chicken in a creamy tomato-fenugreek curry

Butter Chicken tandoori-charred chicken in a creamy tomato-fenugreek curry

This dish delivered as expected, with the chicken sitting in a rich, deep tomato-based curry sauce. Pretty tasty and a good option for those that want the full curry flavor without the heat (like me!).

Tandoori Naan spiced mango jam chutney

Tandoori Naan spiced mango jam chutney

Naan, roti and basmati rice are available to mop up the rich sauces. The naan was done pretty well here; while condiments are an extra three bucks, I was happy to find a nicely-balanced sweet-spiced chutney.

Slow Cooked Beef Short Rib dry spice rubbed and slow braised with cinnamon, cumin, tomato and caramelized onion

Slow Cooked Beef Short Rib dry spice rubbed and slow braised with cinnamon, cumin, tomato and caramelized onion

I found the short ribs to be tender and flavorful without being overly fatty. However, it was served lukewarm suggesting it wasn’t thoroughly reheated.

Mango Jam Glazed Pork Belly rubbed in aromatic spices and pan-seared with spiced mango jam, topped with cilantro

Mango Jam Glazed Pork Belly rubbed in aromatic spices and pan-seared with spiced mango jam, topped with cilantro

Opposite from the short rib, I found this pork belly to be too high on the fat:meat ratio. It was a little sweet for me too.

Chili Cheese Naan tandoori naan stuffed with hot chilies and aged american cheddar with yogurt raita

Chili Cheese Naan tandoori naan stuffed with hot chilies and aged american cheddar with yogurt raita

Another of the unique twists was this chili cheese naan…kind of like an Indian grilled cheese. Unfortunately, the thin naan didn’t hold up as well as thicker slices of bread, becoming fairly oily and mushy pretty quickly.

Chicken Tikka Masala chicken sauteed in a spicy tomato curry with diced onion and sweet peppers

Chicken Tikka Masala chicken sauteed in a spicy tomato curry with diced onion and sweet peppers

This was a good version of chicken tikka masala, essentially the same one that smothers the poutine but without such a thick gravy. Fresh cilantro tops many of the restaurant’s dishes, providing the fresh herbal bite to counter the rich curries.

Ghost Chili Lamb Vindaloo lamb and potato braised in a spicy curry of bhoot jolokia and other chilies

Ghost Chili Lamb Vindaloo lamb and potato braised in a spicy curry of bhoot jolokia and other chilies

I can’t remember who ordered this (it might’ve been me), but I didn’t realize it had ghost chilies until post-meal. I actually found this to be pretty tasty, but it kicked my ass spice-wise. My two coworker diners found the heat to be just right though.

Badmaash had a mix of ups-and-downs for me, but I appreciated its unique approach to the gastropub and its take on some of the usual pub fare. My favorite dishes tended to be the more traditional curries, but the poutine was no slouch. I couldn’t help but think everything was priced a bit higher than I would’ve liked though, on both the food & drink side. Given it’s on my way home from work, I’ll likely be back…but I wouldn’t go out of my way to make a return trip.


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