I've got an Indian food itch that I can't scratch. I'm in search of something mind-blowing and can't seem to find it despite all the Indian restaurants with four-star reviews on Yelp. Bollywood Indian Restaurant at the Water Garden in Westlake Village was my latest attempt to satisfy my craving, but unfortunately, it mostly fell short.
The restaurant was very busy at 8:30 on a Saturday night, which I took as a good sign. Fortunately, several diners were on their way out, so we didn't have to wait for a table. The seating includes lots of booths and plenty of space between tables, so there's none of that uncomfortable overcrowding that you find in a lot of Los Angeles restaurants. Despite the good layout, we found it very noisy and difficult to hear each other due to several large groups and less-than-ideal acoustics.
The chicken tikka jalfrezi didn't taste much like Indian food and almost seemed like a vegetable dish. It had little chicken in large, unwieldy chunks that weren't particularly tender or juicy. The vegetables were slightly overcooked, but did taste good with the spicy sauce, probably thanks to lots of butter.
We tried four dishes and ordered all of them medium hot. I like my food quite spicy, but you never know what a particular cook's definition of "hot" is, so I like to play it safe rather than risk blistering my lips and having tears streaming down my face. The sag paneer (creamy spinach with cheese cubes) was the standout for its rich flavor and surprising amount of paneer cut into perfect, bite-sized pieces. It was not spicy at all, but I'm not sure it was supposed to be.We also liked the lamb vindaloo and thought the medium heat was plenty. The lamb could have been more tender, but the potatoes were perfectly creamy.
The shrimp curry had a thin sauce, closer to a soup consistency than a typical curry consistency. It didn't have many layers of flavor, but it did contain a generous number of shrimp. The side of basmati rice was also a generous portion, but the grains were barely aromatic and there were scant, barely yellow grains of saffron-infused rice. It also cost $3.95. I hate the a la carte pricing of rice that is so common among Indian restaurants--it makes me feel like I'm being nickeled and dimed. Basmati rice isn't expensive, especially purchased in bulk, and who doesn't eat rice with their curry? Restaurants should include it for free or build the cost into each dish that should be eaten with rice.
The service left us wanting, too. It took quite a while for anyone to take our order and quite a while to get to-go boxes and our check. Not that we were in a hurry, but things were a little too slow. At least our waters were refilled frequently.
Overall, the meal was fine, but there was nothing about the food, atmosphere, or service that would be worth going back for.
Bollywood #3 Indian Restaurant
860 Hampshire Rd. #Z
Westlake Village, CA 91361
Monday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.