Ambala Dhaba, Westwood's long-serving diplomat for Northern Indian cooking, is no more. In its place is Healthy Chicken Cafe, a palace of simple poultry, fish, and vegetarian preparations under the same owners. They tell us this change of direction was to provide for the students in the area, but we have a feeling they were flummoxed by the lunchtime crowds at California Chicken Cafe and thus the change of concept and new, similar name. So what makes the menu now?
What you can expect here is lineup of a la carte curries and chicken dishes, with offers of eight pieces of tandoori chicken for eight bucks, chicken and fish tikka masala, separate equipment for meat-lovers and vegans, sides of Punjabi potatoes, homemade pickles, and pani puri, and a short selection of sweets.
Oh wait, there is one other curious specialty being pushed here: "The Naan-a-rito!!" That's right, the new shop is baking its own naan and whole wheat Indian breads for a marriage of Indian flavors and Mexican structure. It's basically a wrap with Indian ingredients and a fun name. The Naan-a-ritos come in varieties like the fish naan-a-rito with cabbage and chutney and a "beans and rice" version with chana, basmati rice, and chutney, as well as more straightforward types and combinations with chicken tikka masala.
Although we'll miss having a location of Ambala on the Westside, the new concept fits quite well. The focus is set on healthy and clean cuisine that looks just as tempting as before. Let's hope the naan-a-rito keeps the scholastic crowd coming back. We know the chicken tikka has long been enough to bring us back.
Healthy Chicken Cafe, 1781 Westwood Blvd. Westwood. 310-966-1772.