subject: Just Curry
take-out vehicle: plastic bowls
10/01/09 update: Just Curry has closed.
I've had mixed experiences with Just Curry. The first time I went, perhaps two years ago, I ordered a decidedly mediocre butter chicken curry. But, since I appreciated the venue and concept, I tried it again several months later with my wife. On that visit, feeling whimsical, I ordered the goat curry. Though the meat and curry were good, I was disturbed to find some tiny (and some not-so-tiny) bones throughout the dish. I resolved then to leave Just Curry's curries alone.
Until today. Stuck downtown, I had no idea what I wanted even as I walked out the door to get it. I zig-zagged aimlessly from Main Street to Market to Water, finally ending up at the Pavilion and Just Curry's lone remaining outpost in the Transit Center. And so, not wanting to search any longer, I said to myself, "Self! Screw it, I'm hungry."
Alex George, the chef and owner, was working alone behind the small steel counter. After exchanging pleasantries, I scanned the menu to the left, then asked, "Is the vegetable curry vegan-friendly?"
(editor's note: yes, I'm still scoping out vegan food for my soon-to-be-visiting friend, and yes, I am that awesome of a person.)
"That depends," Alex said, fluffing some rice absent-mindedly. "How vegan are you?"
"What? I'm not vegan. Hell no. Meat meat yum yum."
Alex nodded. "Then you'll be fine."
Whew! "But," I continued, "What if i was? Could i eat it?"
"There is," said Alex after a quick thought, "a smidgen of butter. Less than a tablespoon per serving. Actually, I make 20-quart batches of this stuff, and each batch has about 4 ounces of butter, so whatever that is."
"Awesome," I said. "I won't tell the vegans if you don't. Oh, and I'll try it, with a side of plantains please."
The vegetable curry, served over basmati rice and accompanied by a fried plantain and a "pepper sauce," was flavorful and moderately spicy. The vegetables (which included carrots, peas, garbanzo beans, and onion) and squares of tofu were lacking a little in texture, but were otherwise well integrated into the dish. The plantains (fried in vegetable oil and dusted with cinnamon), while similar in texture, were a very nice counter-taste. They were also good just by themselves.
I regret not asking how the pepper sauce was made, because it was excellent (so good, in fact, that the half I didn't use on my food I drank straight up). Equally fruity and hot, on its own it wasn't enough to make me need a drink, but it did make my lips tingle—and that's exactly what hot sauce should do. Granted, my capsaicin tolerance (and desire) is higher than average, but still: it was a definite addition to the dish.
Make no bones about it, this was pretty good food. (Ha! Get it? I said "no bones about it" because there were...nevermind.)
Well, I guess one good visit out of three isn't that bad.