8 out of 10 Peppers = Extra Spicy
After driving over an hour in stop-and-go traffic (in what we'd, foolishly, thought would be a 15-minute trip), we arrived at the doors of just-opened Indian restaurant Naya in Silver Lake. Except as we pulled up to the $5 valet, Nick scanned the space and said, "We've been here before." Thank God my keys were already in the valet attendant's hands or I may have erupted in a serious case of road rage. After hearing the buzz all over LA that a "brand new" Indian restaurant had just opened days before, how was it possible that we'd eaten here months ago?
Well, as it turns out, we'd been here, yet hadn't been exactly here. We'd been to Tantraz, which had the same chef and a similar high-end fusion niche, but this was a new incarnation: Naya, that, yes, had just (re-?) opened days before. It has a different owner than Tantraz did, and an improved interior design. The chef too has improved and been more precise in carving out a niche. And there's a cool lounge now too.
The design of Tantraz was too bank vault-esque to me, but Naya comes to life with flowing feminine white fabrics and a much more romantic feel. Nick said it felt like we were inside a wedding. Naya has a connected lounge with its own entrance that is moody bronze. The lounge serves the full restaurant menu and a unique happy hour menu is in the works. The specialty cocktail list is fun, with drink names like Spa in Goa, Buddha's Bed, and The Hot Yogi. Both the restaurant and the lounge are great date places and the large booths would be great for a birthday party or other festive occasion. Service was great, and I'm hoping the staff will be able to keep that up over time. The big negative is the parking still sucks (plan to pay for valet if you don't know the area). Also, our seats were near the restaurant entrance and for part of our meal we could smell car exhaust from cars idling just outside. Also, there's a ton of fish entrees at the menu, so the restaurant smelled heavily of fish for part of our meal. I love fish, but it was odd to smell it when we weren't eating it ourselves.
If you're in the area, I do recommend checking out Naya, though I'd advise waiting a few weeks to let it work through its growing pains. The restaurant is still waiting on its hard copy (not paper) menus and its lounge menu. The website just went up, so you can check out more photos and a chef bio there. I recommend making a reservation before you go, especially if you want to go on a weekend. (On this weeknight, the restaurant was about 1/3 full.) And leave early!
Naya, 3705 West Sunset, Los Angeles (neighborhood: Silver Lake), 90026. (323) 663-8268.
Join us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/saagahh.