Though I have eaten at Jaipur many times, I have only had their food delivered (a much simpler option, given their chaotic location--not that this is a unique problem in LA). However, thanks to a $25 Restaurant.com certificate, I decided to dine in for a change. Unlike many of these certificates, which have restrictions on when you can eat, you can use a certificate to Jaipur seven days a week. The only conditions are that you need to dine in, spend $45 (before the certificate), and pay in cash. At most Indian restaurants, $45 will buy you plenty of food, and Jaipur is no exception. In addition to its reasonably priced menu for everyday patrons, the restaurant also offers budget-sensitive catering services for small and large events and can serve your needs whether you need a full buffet or just appetizers. Thanks to the certificate, for a mere $25, we enjoyed a small feast.
One of the benefits of dining in at Jaipur is that you get mint and tamarind chutneys, carrot and lemon pickles, and salty, delicately crunchy papadums to scoop them up with as soon as you sit down. Their mango pickles, which you can order for $3, are also an unforgettable treat. Everyone should try mango pickles at some point--even if you don't like them, you'll appreciate how intensely tangy and salty they are.
Jaipur is named after the owner's favorite Indian city, "the pink city," located in the Indian state of Rajastan. The restaurant opened in 1999 by an owner whose prior experience included being a chef and restaurant manager in Germany and Los Angeles for 15 years. The restaurant is on Pico Boulevard near Westwood, adjacent to the Westside Pavilion parking garage and Torafuku. Getting there after work during rush hour can be a nightmare, and parking can be too if you don't know that Jaipur has a valet option (for $4.50) or that you can park in the Westside Pavilion garage for free.
To get the most bang for our gift certificate buck, we skipped the appetizers and dove straight into the entrees. As a general rule, I don't like any of Jaipur's creamy dishes, like the chicken korma, chicken tikka masala, or navrattan korma--I find the sauce too heavy. By contrast, the chicken vindaloo, which has a spicy, tomato-based sauce, is one of Jaipur's best dishes, though it would be even better if the meat were free of gristly, fatty bits and cooked in smaller pieces that could absorb more of the sauce. I can never get enough of the sauce, especially since I like to scoop it up and eat it straight with some freshly-baked naan.
Smaller chunks of potato would also be effective in making a more flavorful aloo gobi, though this is the dish's only flaw. The cauliflower is cooked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection. The mattar paneer (lead photo) is also flavorful without being heavy, with squishy homemade cheese and tender bright green peas. I only wish this dish were spicy. With most of Jaipur's dishes, you'll have to request extra heat if you want to enjoy that tingling sensation on your lips. According to the owner, some of the dishes have been modified to better serve the tastes of Angelenos. Such a statement might make you think that the flavors were watered down or that Jaipur served bland, "healthy" Indian food like Pradeep's or Dhaba in Santa Monica, but, lack of spiciness aside, I think Jaipur serves some of the most flavorful Indian food on the Westside.
Jaipur's desserts are homemade and taste like it. My favorites are the rashmalai, a sweet dessert cheese in a milky sauce, and warm, syrupy gulab jamun, which you're almost certainly had if you've ever been to an Indian buffet.
The dining room is almost uncomfortably small and quiet--you can clearly hear other people's conversations across the room, no matter how quietly they're speaking. White tablecloths and linen napkins go a long way towards creating an elegant space despite the lack of room and standard issue restaurant chairs. Cheery yellow paint, an open ceiling, and a wall of windowed doors looking out to Pico help create an illusion of airiness. The partially open kitchen sends the wonderful aroma of curries and lamb kebabs to whet your appetite. The service was just okay--I like unobtrusive service, but when I can't order when I'm ready, it's a little too unobtrusive.
It may not be perfect, but Jaipur is still one of my favorite restaurants. The only thing that really irks me about Jaipur is that they charge $3 extra for rice. Shouldn't rice be included, like it is at Chinese restaurants? I blame the low-carb trend for turning rice into a nonstandard item, but I guess when the entrees are only $8-$12 each, I can't really complain.
Though I love getting a bargain and the restaurant smells incredible, after my experience dining in at Jaipur, I think I'd still prefer to enjoy their food in the comfort of my living room, free from the hassles of parking and traffic. Even full-price and with a delivery fee tacked on, the food is still very much worth it.
Jaipur Cuisine of India
10916 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
(just west of Westside Pavilion)
Lunch buffet daily
11AM - 2:30PM weekdays
11:30AM - 3PM weekends
5PM - 10:30PM