This Week's Review: Exploring Two New Interpretations of Indian Street Food
For this week's restaurant review, I wrote about a pair of Bay Area restaurants serving Indian street food, a seemingly paradoxical idea that nonetheless is turning out to be some pretty tasty grub. First, I ventured across the bridge to the newish Juhu Beach Club in Oakland where, like almost all critics before me, I was blown away by chef Preeti Mistry's fun and innovative takes on food from her trips to Mumbai.
Mike Koozmin Pav "sliders" at Juhu Beach Club in Oakland.
The spot's named after Mumbai's bustling Juhu Beach, a community gathering place known for its street food. To get a sense of it, I turned to YouTube, and found some videos that made me want to travel and eat there right away:
JBC's menu is varied, but the real treat is the pavs, Indian sliders, pictured above. Starter Bakery buns are filled with things like braised short rib, lamb meatballs, vegetable curry, and a deep-fried potato puff. Yum.
To contrast with the kind of Cali-Indian cuisine that Mistry is turning out, I checked out the 7-month-old Curry Up Now brick-and-mortar, an extension of the owners' super-popular food trucks (seriously, that truck parks outside our FiDi office every day, and the line is almost always down the block). Curry Up Now isn't doing new takes on traditional dishes as much as its doing the kind of culinary mashup that could only be supported by the food world today: tikka masala burritos, paneer quesadillas, that kind of thing.
These restaurants may not be "street food," and they may not even be traditionally "Indian," but they are delicious -- and sometimes, that's all that matters.