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Solo at Salomi: An Indian Food Retreat

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If these warm, muggy days and nights have inspired in you a craving for the spicy culinary catharsis that only a tandoori oven can provide, Salomi in North Hollywood might just be your cup of chai. Tucked away on the corner of Magnolia and Lankershim, it's an above-average takeout joint masquerading as a fine-dining experience: red velvet curtains line the walls, and sparkly chandeliers tinkle above your head as you take a deep swallow of your Taj Mahal beer. As neighborhood joints go, though, this one is definitely worth a visit.

Their lamb vindaloo is impossibly tender and satisfyingly spicy; the chicken tikka masala is rich and creamy but lacks a certain zing - you might prefer your tikka masala with a bit more tanginess. The most surprising part of the meal was the naan - try the garlic basil and the onion varieties (they also offer kabuli and keema naans, along with stuffed parata). Their freshly baked portions are thin, crispy in some places and soft in others, and highly conducive to scooping up bits of sauce and rice - exactly what naan should be.

The restaurant offers a wide variety of different protein preparations other than your run-of-the-mill masala; check out their korma, coconut curry, karahi, or rogan josh dishes; they also specialize in fish and prawns. Veggies will also be happy with classics like aloo gobi, sag aloo, and vegetable curry. Two diners can probably get away with spending about $35 for a hearty meal without alcohol. Lunch specials are much more reasonably priced, ranging from $6.30 to $8.50 for meat, chicken, or shrimp meals.

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What separates Salomi, though, other than its aspirational decor, is the level of service. The waiters were efficient and unobtrusive, and two servers tended to each table. Unfortunately, the place on a Monday night was not nearly as packed as it should have been: besides our deuce, there was another couple two tables away, and a group of four tucked away in a far corner.

Another table was occupied by a single, elderly gentleman, who gazed solemnly out the red-curtained window as he waited for his dishes. Pretty young things dressed in workout clothes sauntered down the boulevard on their way to dance practice; whole families ambled by, heading towards the grocery store. I watched the old man pull aside the waiter simply to say: "My compliments to the chef."

I didn't feel too lonely for him; the staff at Salomi seems to excel at making solo diners and small groups comfortable. It's the kind of place that deserves more patrons, but they're pretty good at making the ones they have happy and full.

Salomi Indian and Bangladesh Restaurant
5225 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood
(Free delivery, take-out, catering)

Photo by FireMonkeyFish via flickr.