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Chakra of Beverly Hills: Free-Wheeling Flavor for Big Spenders

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One of our deep-pocketed lawyer friends was in town this week, visiting from New York, where he actually manages to make payments on an apartment in the East Village - people are capable of that? How is that possible? Well, apparently it takes advanced degrees in mathematics and law, as well as a sixty-hour work week. We'll take our humble (but spacious!) apartment in North Hollywood anyday, thank you very much.

Anyway, that was kind of how it felt sitting down to dinner with him at Chakra - modern Indian food served in a sexy setting in a leafy, secluded neighborhood of Beverly Hills is really amazing and special, much like a $6,000/month Manhattan apartment, but we'd be perfectly happy with our tikka masala from the strip-mall place any day of the week. Which isn't to say that Chakra isn't worth the occasional - very occasional - trip. Chef Mel Oza has put a modern, French-influenced spin on classic Indian preparations like garam masala, rogan josh, and dals; you can also choose from an array of traditional dishes like lamb vindaloo and saag aloo.

The house specializes in cocktails called Chakratinis - they're cued to your particular chakric needs and are colored to fit each element, or some hippie bullshit like that. Whatever. We like beer. We ordered up some large bottles of Taj Mahal, which is quite refreshing with a spicy meal. We decided to splurge on a masala duck confit appetizer to start; moist shredded duck is layered on top of an uthapam crepe with sambhar chutney. The waiters brought out small squares of toasty, spicy naan and placed them on the dishes by our elbows. Maybe the beer was connected to our chakras as well, because we started feeling pretty enlightened and relaxed as we awaited our entrees.