The story: Curry Up Now started off as a popular food truck offering up Indian flavors in unique forms like burritos or fries. It opened a storefront in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood and has now spread to four other cities, with its latest being Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood.
Why I went: I admit, Indian food isn’t a category that I go to often or know much about. So I never really tried the Curry Up Now food trucks. But this new restaurant location is close to my Oakland offices, and one weekend after working out I decided to drop in and check it out after seeing a bunch of images on social media.
The vibe: The open and nicely decorated space has a casual yet chic sense, playing off its colorful menu board where you order and then get a number for your table. The large dining room space has a Bollywood feel with portraits of attractive Indians hanging on the wall. On the weekends, it seems to be a spot where a lot of nearby residents walk in for a bite or takeout.
The drinks: There are bottled drinks and other non-alcoholic drinks like iced tea and ginger mint lemonade, and of course chai & parle and the house-made mango lassi ($3.50), which has a definite fresh mango flavor.
The menu: Not being a Curry Up Now food truck regular, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the menu, which is eclectic and mixes tradition Indian street food presented in different ways. The simplest route is to go for either a burrito or bowl filled with Indian flavors like tikka masala and kashmiri. I tried a tikka masala chicken bowl ($10), which had a rich red tikka masala sauce with chickpeas and served with rice.
There are other sections like street snacks (think tacos and naan bits) and street food favorites like papdi chaat and samosas. Then there are larger meals in the Thali section where you get an array of bowls of items for $14. People probably also go crazy for the signature Sexy Fries ($10), which is an Indian-inspired poutine. Of course, I went the healthy route and also tried the babloo and chotu salad ($11), which is the only salad available. I ordered it with cauliflower, which made the salad a colorful bowl of cumin-tinged cauliflower and a mix or organic greens and crunchy chickpeas. It was a vegetarian’s feast for the eyes and mouth (although I did feel the cauliflower was a tad mushy, but that may be the way they like it in India).
My favorite dish: One of the fun dishes in the street food section is the pani puri ($7), which are little tiny hollowed semolina shells that you crack with a spoon and fill with a garbanzo potato mash and then drizzle with cumin tamarind water. It’s a fun snack with delicate flavors.
The last bite: Curry Up Now puts a new spin to Indian food, and in a fun way. The ingredients are fresh and the presentation is always sophisticated and colorful. This Oakland neighborhood location is in a growing area of San Pablo Avenue, and it’s becoming a popular spot for young families and neighborhood regulars.
The rating: 2.5 out of 4 snaps
The deets: Curry Up Now, 1745 San Pablo Ave., Oakland. PH: 510.858.7475. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. No reservations. Major credit cards accepted. www.curryupnow.com
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