Thali! The American Punjabi is good, and deconstructed Samosa is a must.
Both can enjoy mango lassi and house lemonade, and any dessert
India is an amazing country with a variety of cuisines and dishes, ranging from lavish complex dishes to simple street food, from vegan to heavy meat curries, from eye pleasing playful colors to puzzling greyish mixtures.
When you think Indian dinner in the US, what comes to mind? I think of a sit down place with a red tablecloth, a menu filled with exotic dishes, a server who recommends I order chicken tikka masala, served on cafeteria-style dish… Going out for Indian food requires special preparation, or a certain mindset (OMG, those all-you-can-eat lunch buffets). The food is usually flavorful, could be very authentic, but most likely a hard sell to someone entering an Indian restaurant for the first time. But what is the best way to learn Indian cuisine for foodienots? If you live in the Bay Area, I have a solution for you, or I genuinely hope I do.
With Curry Up Now, you can forget all you’ve ever known about Indian food, as their creative fusion menu and atmosphere makes Indian food accessible, inviting, fast, and visually very pleasing. I was first introduced to Curry Up Now when one of their food trucks stopped by our office. The truck got my attention due to the nice and clean look, intriguing menu, but most importantly the great smell coming from the food that my coworkers brought back into the office. It wasn’t the healthiest option, so I hesitated… but gave in, and my relationship with Curry Up Now has only been developing since then.
Later on I discovered that not far from my home they had a new brick and mortar location with a cocktail bar in the back serving handcrafted cocktails. This was back in 2014… I fell in love with the location and the food, but had just one challenge, which can be summed up with “I share my meals with foodienot”. But foodienots, keep reading, I will soothe your fears and offer you some options.
As you walk into Curry Up Now, you are greeted with a chalkboard menu, with images and descriptions. The menu has slightly changed throughout the years, but key dishes like deconstructed samosa and naughty naans have stayed. After that you notice that you are greeted by a very enthusiastic and friendly cashier, and an open kitchen in the back. You can also locate a cooler that contains mango lassis, homemade lemonade, and other drinks.
The menu is divided into a few categories, including Snacks, Burritos & Bowls (welcome, foodienots), Indian Street Food, Thali (foodies, still paying attention?), and Kathie Rolls. Both chalkboard and paper menus are playful, and so are the names of the dishes. Some of the more creative names include Death by Tikka Masala and Hella Vegan. To make the food more accessible, you also get to adjust your spiciness level. If you are still in doubt of what to get – do a blind pick and order a cocktail from the bar in the back of the restaurant, I heard strong cocktails make selections easier and food better.
But let’s talk dishes and my recommendations for foodies and foodienots. Thali gives you the most variety – you get to try a few dishes, with naan, and a side salad. Thalis are a great choice for foodies, beautifully plated on a metal tray, and three different curries served in small metal bowls, naan bread, a small salad (pico kachumber), rice, and housemade root pickles. If thali is not enough, a deconstructed samosa is a must try. It’s exactly what you’d expect it to be – it’s a samosa that was taken apart and is served sitting in a sauce (chutney) with cute mini-samosas surrounding it.
For foodienots, I have a few recommendations depending on the level of adventurousness for the day. The simpler option is to stick to tacos, or get a pizza-like dish – naughty naan. Up for a challenge, foodienot? I suggest a tikka masala bowl with chicken as your choice – it’s a rice bowl with chicken in a very mild flavorful sauce.
If you are visiting Curry Up Now during a cocktail-friendly hour, I recommend you visit a bar in the back. If it’s too early in the day and you are afraid to be judged for ordering a cocktail, get a mango lassi to enjoy.Hope you enjoy your meal, foodie or foodienot!