Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Curry Up Now

Curry Up Now is a small chain of indian restaurants in the Bay Area, with a location in San Francisco, plus others in San Mateo, Palo Alto, and San Jose.  They also operate a food truck.  I've only visited the San Francisco restaurant, located in the Mission.

The menu is not standard indian cuisine.  Instead, the focus is on street food.  This includes a number of classic chaat, plus some more interesting Mexican influenced items, like ... burritos (perfect for the Mission right?)  The tortillas are filled with rice, garbanzo beans, onions, and indian filling of your choice, like chicken tikka malasa, lamb stew, or allo gobi.  Or go for a quesadillix, made with aloo paratha as the bread, stuffed with cheese and a filling of your choice, with pickles and yogurt.  They also have "unburgers", fried ravioli, and "deconstructed samosas" (a mound of garbanzo beans and chutneys, garnished with mini samosas).  Their most famous item is probably the kati rolls, a wrap made of pan fried flat bread similar to roti, pickled onions, chutneys, and your choice of filling (remember the crappy kati roll I had from the Kasa indian food truck?).  The menu is rounded out by "naughty naan", open faced naan sandwiches with tikka masala, cheese, greens, onions, and jalapeƱo.  Like I said, not exactly standard indian cuisine, no simple curries and rice here.

Service is casual, order at the register, take a number back to your table, and your order is brought to you when it is ready.

After I placed my order, I went to use the bathroom.  I don't normally review bathrooms unless there is something notable, and, here there was.  Once you enter the bathroom, a recording starts playing, educating you all about the benefits of hand washing.  I guess this is more effective than the signs that no one reads?  Still, I'm not sure why they cared ...
Silverware Buckets on Tables.
Each table had a bucket in the middle with silverware and napkins, self-service.  Unfortunately for me, my bucket contained only spoons and no napkins.  I had to go steal the utensils I needed from a neighboring table.

The seating is fairly diverse, a bunch of tables for 2 along the window, all with really unique padded chairs.  Picnic table larger tables make up the other side of the room, and a few tables are out on the sidewalk as well, for al fresco dining.

The main focus of the dining area is the open kitchen, complete with large oven, similar to a pizza oven.  I'm guessing this is where the naan is cooked?
Criss Cut Sweet Potato Fries, Maggi Ketchup.  $4.35.
Since most of the menu is sandwich based, and I just wanted a snack, I just got an appetizer: sweet potato fries!

My fries arrived very quickly, so it was clear that they weren't fried to order.  They were also only lukewarm when they arrived, and cooled down even further very fast.

The fries were ... good.  They were crispy, but not overcooked.  They weren't too oily or greasy.  But, they didn't have a strong sweet potato flavor, and they were woefully under-seasoned.  I am not actually sure they had *any* salt on them.  I also do like criss cut fries, like the ones from Phat Philly, but for sweet potato fries, I really want to taste the sweet potato, so I prefer a thicker form.

However, there was a star on the plate.  The ketchup!  Now, that was something special.  I'll be honest, I had no idea what Maggi Ketchup was, and wasn't ordering this for the ketchup.  I just wanted sweet potato fries.  I usually dip my sweet potato fries in some sort of honey mustard.  Or bbq perhaps.  (For regular fries, I'm all about aioli.  Or sweet chili and sour cream.  Rarely plain old ketchup there either).  I love my sauces.

It turns out that Maggi Ketchup is the number one ketchup in India.  I tried to find out what the ingredients were, besides standard ketchup ingredients, but the best I could find was "spice extract" or "mixed spices", along with onion and garlic.

Anyway, this stuff had some kick.  Like, serious kick.  But not too much kick, just enough to keep you both addicted, and in mild pain.  I couldn't stop going back for more.  If I were a beer drinker, I think these fries would have gone great with a beer.  Speaking of drinks, they are all served in cute mason jars.

$4 was a fine price for a basket of fries, which was large enough to be sharable with a meal, or perfect for a snack on their own.
Hot Chai.  $2.50.
Unlike most places, Curry Up Now does not sweeten the chai.  I was very surprised when I took a sip and it was just milky, bitter, black tea.  They did have sugar available to add in yourself near the water dispenser, but no other sweetener alternatives.

I appreciated being able to make it as sweet as I'd like, but, it really wasn't remarkable chai, on par with what many Indian places give you complimentary.
Ginger Mint Lemonade.  $3.
I also tried a cold beverage, which I was hoping to be refreshing on a hot day.  I'm not sure if it was fresh squeezed or not.  I didn't like it, the ginger was way too strong, and the lemonade too sweet.  Perhaps it would be nice with spicy curry?
Curry Up Now on Urbanspoon
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