California Chutney is a fast casual Indian spot in Pasadena that leaves you full and feeling good. Often times, you come out from eating Indian food feeling overly stuffed and full — with lots of bold flavors and rice with meat (my comfort food), one can’t help but stuff their face. California Chutney really hones in on the flavors while keeping the meal sensible and nutritious. That’s their philosophy.
Executive Chef Sunil Lad really takes his creativity to action and produces some wonderful dishes. With multiple tandoor ovens on site, they are able to produce fresh naan every time. I saw the process of making these — the cooks had to be delicate and needed a bit of finesse.
Here we have a naan taco. The naan is a perfect vessel to add almost anything. The Indian flavors in the chicken tikki was bold and fresh. The naan was perfectly warm and balanced — crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. You can tell they’ve been working on the perfect dough and hit their mark.
The lamb and rice was off the menu, but I can totally see this on the menu in the future. The lamb was perfectly seasoned and had a nice texture. It was soft and flavorful — just a hint of that lamb gamey flavor gave this cut a nice complexity. My weakness is meat and rice, and this dish really hit the spot.
The shrimp skewers in preparation for the shrimp dish was a sight to see. Perfectly cooked in the tandoor oven, the edged were charred nicely and gave a nice flavor to the shrimp. Mixed with red bell peppers, onions and green onions, the dish was a complete success. Spritzing on the cooked lemon made everything perfect. Each bite of the shrimp was satisfying. None were dried out or flavorless. The dish was so healthy and flavorful — I could probably eat this dish with their rice alone and feel very full and still feel good about myself.
The food at California Chutney really delivered what they believe in. All of the dishes were flavorful and healthy. Their ingredients were of the highest quality and you can tell the chefs really take care of the food. Even their chutney bar (not pictured) had a lot to choose from. While other spots nickel and dime you for the specialty sauces, theirs was just out in the open for patrons to enjoy. The interior is fresh and new — it is almost reminiscent of the food — clean, fresh, and colorful.
Dinner with a Twist was the Saturday night event, and it had a lot more memorable bites and dishes. The flavors were a bit more packed and delicate. The night started around sunset and as night time set in, the event was packed!
Love and Salt’s grilled peach was stellar. The addition of dandelion greens and duck salami was great.
Coni’seafood made a nice shrimp ceviche marinated in tamarind. The shrimp had a nice texture and flavor that was like no other.
The ricotta cavatelli with chianina beef was great. The sauce had a nice depth of flavor and was rich in flavor.
Scarpetta’s Tuna crudo with sea urchin sauce was a great bite. The addition of fried garlic and bonito gave it a nice delicate saltiness to the dish. The fish was very fresh and candy like.
The falafel taco from Top Chef’s Kasuji Tanabe was masterfully prepared. The falafel was crispy and full of deep flavors. I wasn’t a fan of the taco idea, but the taste was definitely there.
Provo Pizza was my all time favorite of the night. It wasn’t because of the pizza, but the mozzarella ball they gave out. It was warm, silky smooth and eating it was just pure pleasure.
Other notable dishes came from a plethora of chefs. Kris Morningstar of Terrine made a great salade landaise with foie gras torchon, gizzards, and shallot vinaigrette. The Raymond 1886 came out with a great scallop dish. I would say 10e Restaurant’s lamb chops were the star of the night. Everything just tasted better at night. Maybe it was the lack of heat and sun. The event at the night events were a lot more packed and lines were quite long. The Taste was such a fun event and always look forward to it every year!
The LA Times’ The Taste event always follows right after LA Food & Wine and also is during the Labor Day Weekend. This weekend is never good for my diet and is always filled with delicious food and a barbecue on Monday. Field to Fork was the Saturday daytime event. I made my way around and tasted all that the restaurants and chefs had to offer. Some of my favorites are below.
Hinoki and the Bird’s matcha donuts were quite nice. The hint of green tea matcha was subtle but noticeable, and the cognac apple filling was prominent and tasty.
Boa Steakhouse always makes a great burger at these events. The brie in the slider gave a nice creaminess and the fried onions, a nice texture.
The Ingo’s Tasty Diner Brussels sprouts were great. It proved that not all Brussels sprout dishes are the same. The goat cheese and Marcona almonds were a great match.
Freshology Anson Mills polenta pudding. It had vanilla bean and candied Fresno chile. The texture and flavor was like no other.
Of course, I like the end things with some ice cream. Amorino of Beverly Hills was serving their gelato (not in flower form). It was still good in and cold in the summer heat.
Other notable dishes were Quenelle’s graham cracker Thai tea ice cream. I also liked the fried olives prepared by The Gadarene Swine. Another notable dish was East Borough’s Vietnamese fish sauce wings — it had a salty spicy and fishy taste that was a bit off and addicting at the same time. Everything was very tasty and well prepared. The heat wasn’t unbearable and the food/drinks kept flowing. For me, the overflow of ice cream was all I needed to keep me cool.
The 5th Annual LA Food & Wine Lexus Live on Grand was the highlight of the weekend. Last year, Questlove graced the main stage with his DJ skills. This year, he brought along his band, The Roots with him and put on an awesome concert. The food was definitely happening this night. Good food, wine, and music was the recipe for a great party atmosphere of gastronomic proportions.
By far, my favorite of the night, and I think everyone’s night was the Hudson Valley Farms foie gras. Each bite was fatty and smooth, and the tartness from the blueberry and sweetness from the white chocolate was so perfect.
Another favorite that I think was underrated was the Guajillo chile crusted baby back ribs. They were wrapped in a roll and dipped in nuoc mam cham which gave it a nice tart and saltiness that was so delicious.
The most interesting bite would be the cowboy sushi. The raw beef on top of the rice served nigiri style was stellar.
This whole pig picnic from Barrel & Ashes was a true display of deliciousness.
Other great bites came from Union’s Bruce Kalman. He made a roasted beet tortellini sauced with lemon, poppy seed, and wild fennel. The citrus marinated hamachi with purple potato from chef Patrice Martineau of Montage was unforgettable. Another foie dish was the seared foie gras and pig ear crisp from Hot’s Kitchen. After all of the great dishes, I enjoyed The Roots kill it on stage. The guy with the beat machine was great too. After the concert, I grabbed one more Hudson Valley Farms foie gras and an ice cream for the road. It was such a great night!!!
The Lexus Grand Avenue Night Market hosted by Tyler Florence was a success! With 30 chefs whipping up their special dishes and an overflow of wine and cocktails, the night went on with the tunes of a mediocre DJ. I like to believe the DJ was just “opening” for The Roots the next night.
My first bite, which was the pork belly above set the mood of the night. A lot of chefs were doing pork belly, and for a good reason. It was delicious! Topped with a zesty sauce and atop a nice crunchy slaw, the dish was a great start.
Another stellar dish was the banh mi hot dog. It had all the great flavors of a banh mi sandwich, with the humbleness of a hotdog. Great combination, and very gutsy to serve hot dogs at LA Food & Wine!
Another porky dish I liked was Badmaash’s rice and pork dish. The spiced mango pork belly went perfectly with the Bacon Biryani. Pork and rice is indeed my weakness.
Other great dishes included arroz caldo from Eggslut’s/Rice Bar’ Calvin Dunn. Chef Tin Vuong of Little Sister had a great dish of a vermicelli noodle salad with tender lemongrass beef and spices galore. Other favorites included:
– Hamasaku’s Jewelry Box Chirashi bowl
– Superba’s nitrogen candy
– Seoul Sausage’s Chinese Spiced Lamb Belly
– Patina’s Chef Paul Lee’s Dungeness Crab Cone (pictured below)