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Naan-N-Curry lost an Indian Füd Trial against Shalimar

Naan-N-Curry
478 O'Farrell Street/Leavenworth, SF, CA
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Pretrial hearing at The Blue Lamp
1/8/02

Vardigan

The area around Jones and O'Farrell seems to be San Francisco's version of "Curry Lane," the stretch of roughly 20 Indian restaurants literally on top of one another up and down New York's 6th Street. Within a block here, you've got at least a handful of Indian/Pakistani places, including the perennial favorites Pakwan, Shalimar, and Naan 'N Curry, where we happened to dine last week.

Seekh KabobSadly, it's been so long since we enjoyed Shalimar's chaos that I had a hard time fairly comparing the chicken from the tandoor. I do know I loved Shalimar's, and now I love Naan's, and I guess that's enough to know. I don't know what goes on down there in the clay depths, but the chicken that emerges is so tender and charged with charred-in flavor that I have to marvel, verbally, during every bite. That's enough to know too.

The Chicken Vindaloo deserves mention. Be careful here -- it's spicy. As in a cartoon, I watched Judge Turner's hat slowly lift off his head and smoke stream from his ears near the end of this dish. Apparently a glutton for punishment, I lapped up the remaining sauce with my naans. There was something addictive about that Vindaloo and I'd like to eat it again right now.

 

Chicken VindalooMcClure

Wow, yet another relatively cheap Indian joint. One thing I've learned over the last year and a half: You don't need to go fancy to get great Indian food. We've been to Pakwan, Shalimar and now N 'N C and by the looks of the neighborhood it doesn't stop there.

We ordered a mess of dishes. Daal Ghost ($4.99), lamb cooked with lentil (one of nine lamb dishes on the menu), is pretty mild as spicy goes but had very nice tender bits of lamb. Like most dishes the portions aren't huge but enough for two or three to get a good idea of what's up. The Chicken Vindaloo ($5.99) was up to par, with the hot (spicy) factor on high, as it should be. You knew you were in for a bit of sweat from the first bite. Nothing crazy though, as long as you're not a sensitive Sammy. This is just one of 10 chicken curry dishes they serve up. Next we paid a visit to the Tandoori oven. This is where the Indian style shines. We went for the Chicken Tikka Kabab ($4.99), boneless cubed chicken skewered and cooked in a clay oven. A nice-sized portion of the yummiest of chicken bits you can hope to find. The Seekh Kabaab is the ground beef marinated in spices and cooked in that special oven -- an amazing tube of meat. They also do it in lamb.

Of course we had the Naans -- plain, onion, and a garlic (1-2 bucks). All were tasty but I prefer the plain. You have enough going on elsewhere on your plate to be worrying about the flavor of your bread. We neglected to try any of the vegetable dishes but next time I plan on trying the Palak Paneer, spinach cooked with homemade cheese, or maybe the Aloo Palak, potato cooked with spinach. I just want to see what they can do with the spinach.

Naan 'N Curry goes right along with the other cheap type Indian food dining experience. You order at the counter, set your own table and pay as you leave. No one is coming by to see how your meal is, 'cause they know it's good.

 

Turner

Do you enjoy having a blow torch pointed at your tongue? I know I do. So when we got a taste of the fare at Naan-N-Curry I couldn't have been happier. Immediately after feasting on Indian food I often ask myself why I would intentionally cause myself such pain. I guess I enjoy the flavors between shrieks of agony.

Naan-N-Curry is in the Tenderloin district, and has the air you would expect: low-key with no pretensions. Not exactly as casual as Shalimar (which is just around the corner) but you won't find starched white tablecloths. You will find a good selection of Indian/Pakistani dishes at fairly reasonable prices.

We got a bunch of stuff. The Chicken Tikka Kabob ($4.99) is the old favorite, tandoori chicken -- but boneless. Excellent, possibly the best tandoori chicken I've had. And, not insanely hot. Spicy, yogurty, oniony goodness. We also got some Daal Ghost ($4.99), simply because it was called Ghost. That was a lamb and lentil stew kind of thing. Pretty good, curry flavors and whatnot. Not, uh, hauntingly delicious, though.

The Seekh Kabaab($1.99 per stick) is another favorite of the Court. Basically spicy beef sausage on a stick. Not sure if that's tandoored or sauteed. But all food on a stick is good. Very tasty, and I'd say the second hottest dish, spice-wise. The hottest dish of all? That would be the Chicken Vindaloo. Even the other two normally stoic judges (and despite their macho posturing here) had to admit that it was "hot." After a bite of that I was transported back to the time I took a header into the tandoor at Pakwan. Until you've stuck your head into a raging tandoor, you don't know good Indian food.

The rice was rice and the naan (flat grilled bread) was adequate. Couple bucks for a slab of that. Even the onion and garlic naan was pretty bland, but you'll be thankful for that to offset the spice-chaos going on with the other dishes.

About the only complaint I would make is the portions seemed a LITTLE skimpy for the price, considering the low-brow location and atmosphere. But, all good quality with that blow-torch-on-tongue essence that we all love. I say go ahead and add it to your rounds of Indian joints.

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