We had the chance to interview Priyanka and Hiram, on food, working with family and their favourite foodie spots in LA. These siblings are behind the best Indian food in LA, surprisingly located in a gas station. The restaurant serves Indian food in a traditional Frankie (like a burrito) and has caused quite a stir amongst foodies. As seasoned Los Angelinos the Priyanika and Hiram have created a curated ‘Bombay Frankie: Guide to L.A.’ on Nomad Featured Trips to share their favorites for Mexican, seafood, drinks and dessert in a city they love.
All photos are credited to Priyanka!
How did Bombay Frankie come about and when did you open?
P: We have a family friend, who was looking for a new space for his restaurant. We have grown up eating his food, and had a space free in one of the gas stations, so thought it’d be stupid if we didn’t embrace this opportunity. We didn’t want to do the “run of the mill” or “typical” Indian food: seen that done that! At one of Chef’s restaurants he had an item on the menu called the “Frankie”. It’s the perfect dish to attract the lunch crowd: you’re in and out, it’s easy to eat, and we were convinced it could be tasty. Hiram and I got into the kitchen and started experimenting with all the different breads, how to roll it, and what meat or vegetables to put inside it.
H: Priyanka, growing up would always experiment with different combinations of the strangest stuff. To me I thought she was professionally pregnant! Her tastes would change between sweet and savoury, which actually lent itself pretty well to creating our special spread. All credit to her for having this pre partum thing, it ended up working well for the restaurant!
What do you think the unique location adds to the experience?
H: Number one, it’s unorthodox people don’t expect it. We started out with the idea of let’s put something in the gas station. Little did we know that that would be a selling point too.
Bombay Frankie is such a family centric business, how has that been?
P: It’s been interesting! Initially, we had to get to grips with having a brother/ sister relationship and also dividing responsibilities and being in business together. Also, having chef be a family friend, but still be his boss. So it’s just about finding the balance in that.
Where is somewhere you’d still like to travel to?
H: It is a difficult question to answer only because I think there are so many places. I try to seek out dangerous locale, danger attracts me because it’s off the beaten path and usually becomes a great story to tell! Always, somewhere where food excites me, that’s the predominant factor. I’ve always been intrigued by South America, say Brazil. I know the food would be tremendous and have such variety from North to South.
P: I’ve always wanted to go to Morocco; it’s at the top of my bucket list. I just love everything aesthetically that comes from there – the design, the food, the spices.
What’s one of your best travel memories?
H: Probably from when I went to Singapore recently, it was the first time I had been on my own so I really got to explore the hawker food stalls. At these huge open-air food courts, there’s anything between 70 and 80 hawkers, dishing up all sorts of different fare, from different regions of Asia. Trying to figure out what I wanted to eat took up so much brain capacity I didn’t want to end up with food regret! It’s also 95 degrees with 95% humidity, so that adds to the experience. Plus, watching everyone around you enjoy the food at the same time is pretty special.
P: Mine would be Rome. My husband and I managed to go there just before we moved back to the States and had a kid. Rome is just so overwhelmingly beautiful in so many ways, anything from the food to the culture, the scenery. The hotel we stayed at was literally an art gallery, and I’m also an artist so it was amazing for me. The front desk staff gave us recommendations; restaurants that were off the beaten path and were cute and quiet.
Are you cooks? What’s your signature dish?
H: Back when I was in college, I really wanted to open up a restaurant. I love the idea of pairing different kinds of cuisines. My signature dish would be my own take on Mexian Molé, where you combine Indian and South East Asian flavours together with traditional Mexican ones. Using the spice, different kinds of chillies from India combined with the chilies, chocolate and cinnamon from Mexico.
P: I’ve tasted it and Hiram is a pretty amazing cook! On the rare occasion we go over, we’re like what the hell! Where are you hiding and why are you not inviting us over more often?! I’m all about simple, quick but tasty. He does the most complicated dishes that I would never even attempt.
H: Well thank you, I never get to hear this kind of thing!
And Priyanka, what would your dish be?
P: I love to cook in my Dutch oven, braised meats is what I’m particularly good at. I love combining that with Indian spices. I made ribs the other night and the meat just fell off the bone. I also cook everything in Ghee, so you get that beautiful caramelisation. That’s probably my specialty.
Do you have any plans to open a larger restaurant space?
H: Yes we do. We’re in talks right now with a design architecture firm to open a second location. It might take a little time to actually get it up and running but we’re certainly in the process!
Will you have some of your work on display Priyanka?
P: Definitely, we’ve made sure that there’s a space in the restaurant I’m able to create my art pieces and tie it all together with the food, so yes!
(Check out Priyanka’s Art)
Lastly, what would be your final meal if you could choose it?
H: This is the death row inmate question! (they laugh)
P: I think I know. I would want one of our Frankie’s, it’s my signature Frankie that’s not on the menu. It’s made with home made chickpea spread, tomatoes, cucumber, pickled onion, Saag (Spinach and Broccoli), Aloo Gobhi (Cauliflower and Sweet potato), Tandoori Paneer and topped with mint chutney, tamarind chutney, mint crema and raita. It’s a monster burrito but it’s so tasty. Then I’d need it with either a vodka soda or a Prosecco. Let’s throw in some truffle fries too!
H: I think mine would be the full-scale dim sum experience, it’s the ultimate comfort food for me. From stuffed pork buns to some fancier ones too, but I’m not picky, any dim sum will do.
Highlights of Priyanka and Hiram’s curated Nomad Featured Trip, “Bombay Frankie: Guide to L.A.”
Capital Seafood in Arcadia: Go for Dim Sum
Republique: Burrata Toast for Breakfast
Samosa House in Culver City: Vegetarian Indian, get the Jackfruit Curry
La Boucherie: On the 71st floor of the Intercontinental Hotel in DTLA, target for a Big Night Out
Hama Sushi: In little Tokyo DTLA, very authentic, no fluff just straight up good sushi.
Shibuya in Calabasas: Hole in the wall with amazing.
Catch LA: They have by far the best Avocado Toast. It’s a little sceney but it’s beautiful inside and a great bar at night.
Hillstone Santa Monica: Their knife and fork ribs are to die for and try the walnut cobbler!
Son of a Gun: Damn tasty fried chicken sandwich
Mercado on 3rd and Fairfax: They make their own tortillas.
Susie Cakes: Everything is fab. The classic Sweet Lady Jane best strawberry shortcake ever!
Wally’s in Beverly Hills: Fab wine bar and the brunch is amazing.