1745 San Pablo Avenue, (near 18th St) Oakland | 510.858.7475 | website
Last week I went to check out the newest location of Curry Up Now which opened in Oakland earlier this month. It’s in an area that is really busting out with so many new bars and restaurants and is next door to The New Parish venue. Curry Up Now was one of the first street trucks around back in 2009 that forged the path for acceptance of the moveable feast and since then, they have built restaurants in San Mateo, Oakland, Palo Alto, San Francisco and San Jose, while still operating 4 food trucks.
The 1,800 square foot venue seats up to 50 guests, the wicker chairs, intricate tiles, ceiling fans and colorful portraits from Rajasthan create a modern quirky ambience. They take traditional Indian flavors and present them in a modern upbeat way. The tikka masala burritos are what made them famous, and the menu includes deconstructed samosas, naughty naan and sexy fries. They use organic, natural ingredients whenever possible, the eggs come from cage-free hens, and they utilize sustainable, local resources at every opportunity. Although the format is fast casual, they use real plates and silverware to reduce waste.
I went with my friend Lee who eats a mostly plant based diet, and found the menu to be very accommodating. We were dining as guests of the house and began our meal with Panipuri, also known as Golgappa, which are an obsession of mine after I read a description of eating them as like a sweet and salty deep kiss exploding in your mouth, and I have been on the hunt for this taste sensation ever since. The versions I’ve had were all disappointing, and I’m going to tell you that you have to get this at Curry up now, it’s so good it made our toes curl!
Pani puri is made with crisp puri, which are delicately thin hollow shells made from fried semolina, that you break open with a spoon then fill with the spicy garbanzo potato mash and top off with the delicious cumin tamarind water. It is a flavor bomb that literally explodes in your mouth – it’s such a delicious treat!
I was intrigued to try the Indian Railway Cutlet, which are cutlets made from noodles and veggies that are flavored with maggi masala, then breaded and fried and drizzled with Sriracha aioli and tamarind sauce. Railway cutlets are an Anglo-Indian tradition, the legacy of the British raj that is unique to travel on Indian trains so that it is considered a heritage food.
The patty had the moreish texture of tender noodles mixed with chopped vegetables, then breaded and fried to a delectable crisp. We had a mixed reaction, my friend Lee thought they were too sweet from the tamarind sauce, but I liked the variety of textures in the patty and the strong flavors from the maggi masala and spicy sriracha aioli.
The spinach was creamy and mercifully not spicy, as you know my tastebuds can’t stand too much heat, and although I mostly stuck to this mild dish, my glasses steamed up and my lips were on fire from everything else. Next time, I must remember to ask for a side of yogurt, which really helps tame the heat…
The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner with late night hours for New Parish events. Neighborhood street parking is often accessible but can be challenging.