Just passed noon on a Tuesday, the pleasantly distinguishable aroma of Indian spices emanate from a storefront on Wilshire Boulevard, just before 17th Street.
Turns out, the chefs of Nawab of India have been cooking all morning in preparation for the first wave of customers to enjoy its full-service lunch buffet.
Several customers have already begun to enjoy each other’s company after choosing from the buffet line. No one is in a rush to leave.
All the while, the restaurant’s manager, Ricky Lamba, works his way around the restaurant floor, greeting everyone who walks in, welcoming a few return visitors.
Many patrons at Nawab, colloquially referred to as the “House of Exotic Indian Food,” are repeat visitors.
Indeed, Lamba, who serves as Nawab’s daily manager, prides himself on creating a dining experience as important as the meal itself, making every effort to make diners feel welcome and at home.
Of course, the food is a major draw at this Indian restaurant that’s served Santa Monicans since 1988, though its current owner, Kamaljit Singh, took over operations in 2004.
Creating an intricate balance between formal and casual dining, Nawab offers the typical Indian fare with a twist.
According to Lamba, the restaurant’s chefs seek to strike a balance between flavor and spice, compared to some other Indian restaurants where flavor and spice can be considered one in the same rather than features two distinct entities.
Among the most popular dishes at Nawab is the Chicken Tikka Masala (Spicy Chicken), Fish Tikka Kabab (grilled sea bass), and its extensive lamb menu.
Of course, Nawab also offers a full vegetarian menu that includes popular Indian dishes such as Aloo Saag (spinach and potatoes), Chana Masala (garbanzo beans in spices), Navrattan Korma (vegetables and cottage cheese), and Dal Makhani (lentil beans).
Nawab also features a unique rice specialties menu, offering seven different varieties of rice to complement any ordered dinner item.
The restaurant also offers a trio of dinner specials, including the Vegetabla Thali, Mix Grill, and Nawab Special. Each dish is either a six or eight course meal offering a hearty experience typical of Indian royalty.
Regardless of personal palate, customers have a choice between six main courses during the lunchtime buffet or dozens of savory a la carte food items, be it tandoori grilled meats or curried vegetables.
Nawab is ultimately one of the best dining experiences in the Westside, let alone Santa Monica, with its perfect balance of personal attention, intricate dishes, and relaxed ambience.
Beer and wine are also available, and customers may order take out, as well. Nawab also offers catering and delivery.
Appetizers run from $4.95 to $10.95 per item; main courses deviate from $11.95 to $22.95; dinner specials run between $22.95 and $38.95
Located at 1621 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica, Nawab is also online at www.nawabindia.com. To reach the restaurant by phone, call 310.829.1106.
Nawab is open seven days a week, but closes between lunch and dinner.