Classic Tables: Paru's

Northern and southern Indian food in East Hollywood

Before the poori, before the Kingfisher, before the lassi, and even before you're seated or see a menu at Paru's, you have to ring the doorbell.

We're not sure why Paru's door is locked during business hours and diners must be buzzed in. But Paru's has sat behind lock and key on this stretch of Sunset since 1979, so it's best to roll with the quirks.

Paru's does well by northern Indian dishes, but the kitchen's south Indian cooking keeps us coming back. There's a beautiful bit of carb-on-carb action known as masala dosa ($8), a thin, crisp fermented-rice batter pancake stuffed with spiced potatoes. We love the fluffy puck-shaped idli ($5), too, also made of fermented rice, and perfect for dipping in soupy sambar (lentil stew).

If this all sounds devoid of animal protein, it is–because Paru's is a vegetarian restaurant. Are you dismissive of such cooking? We implore you not to be: You won't miss meat when eating here.

Order Cream of Wheat halwa ($5) for dessert. The dense triangles are indeed made of farina, but when stained orange with saffron and scented with orange blossom water, that sometimes boring breakfast gruel tastes wonderful.

Paru's, 5140 Sunset Blvd., East Hollywood; 323-661-7600 or parusrestaurant.com