Bollywood Zaika is a fast-casual concept centered around Indian flavors. Some of the dishes are fairly true to South Asia, other taste a little more like the South Bay. You’re invited to get the various chicken or sabji (vegetable) curries as buns, wraps, bowls, or plates. The “build-your-own” system is a bit convoluted, but the flavors are clear and direct.
Goan-style fish is our favorite protein. It is especially nice on hot beach days when curry might feel sweaty. It’s a “dry curry” preparation or, as Goans might call it, a “fish fry.” Fish is coated in a batter that’s like a curry dredge and then pan grilled. The coating is rich with fenugreek and warming spices. The chickpea flour gets the spices to stick onto the moist, flaky fish. It’s mahi-mahi here, which you wouldn’t find in Goa; but it feels right at home in Southern California on a rice bowl. Get this fish with aloo jeera for a take on fish and chips, Indian style.
All other entree options are curries, on display at the front counter in Le Creuset Dutch ovens. They are on the mild side, but they don’t pander. While a boast on the door touts healthful Indian cuisine. we find the butter chicken richer and creamier than most. The chicken is very moist, a good choice for those craving familiar Punjabi flavors. We like our butter chicken plate with creamy daal makahni (butter lentils) and cinnamon forward chana masala (chickpea stew).
Overall, we prefer the snacks here to the meals, especially on an itinerant beach day. The best snack, and dish, at Bollywood Zaika is the vada pav. Like Bollywood, vada pav is synonymous with the city of Mumbai. It’s basically an aloo tiki slider. A two inch thick potato cake seasoned with warming chilis and cooling mint is sandwiched into a little potato roll and dressed with sweet and hot chutneys. These simple, filling, flavorful snacks are favorites of ours, and they’re pretty hard to find in the U.S.
Also on the snack menu is samosa chaat. This is basically samosa nachos — smashed samosas drenched in raita (yogurt), onions, chana daal, and chuntey, all topped with crunchy little bits of fried vermicelli. Bollywood Zaika’s version is more toppings than samosa, which works fine, as the chickpeas and raita here are very good. This being a beach day, we wanted to try the unusual offering of calamari pakora. Pakora can be made from anything really, as long as it’s coated in a soft, spicy chickpea batter and deep fried. The squid came out juicy and tender. It tasted almost Spanish on account of the chickpea coating.