Wild Naanimals | Restaurant Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Eat & Drink » Restaurant Reviews

Wild Naanimals

Curry Up Now pushes the boundaries of Indian fusion cuisine.

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ALEX SPRINGER
  • Alex Springer

One visit to Curry Up Now (multiple locations, curryupnow.com) and it's easy to see how this place hit light speed. It all started as a Bay Area food truck back in 2009, but the restaurant's Indian fusion menu, packed with cheekily-named takes on Indian street food, quickly made a splash in its native California. After a rapid expansion in California, owners Akash and Rana Kapoor set their sights on Midvale, Utah (1076 Fort Union Boulevard, 801-849-8189) as their foothold in creating a national franchise. Since opening in Midvale in February of this year, Curry Up Now recently opened a Downtown Salt Lake location (152 E. 200 South, 801-953-0156), which can only mean that Utah diners have taken a shine to this new addition.

It makes sense, of course. A stylish, fast casual Indian fusion joint with items like Naughty Naan ($11.50) and Sexy Fries ($11) that is absolutely crushing it in Silicon Valley would feel right at home among Utah's Silicon Slopes crowd. While I remain a die-hard fan of Utah's excellent, established Indian food scene, Curry Up Now fills a fast-casual niche that ultimately bridges a much-needed gap between trendy and traditional. I'm all for jumping headfirst into the deep end of the gastronomic ocean, but that can be a big ask for some people. If pounding a tikka masala burrito ($10.50) from Curry Up Now is some Indian food novitiate's first foray into the cuisine's exotic and exciting wonderland of flavors, however, that's something to celebrate.

Though the concept of fusing Mexican and Indian foods together isn't necessarily brand new, it remains one of the most effective combinations of all time. Both cuisines are dominated by fluffy rice, warm flatbreads—tortillas and naan respectively—and a robust palette of spicy flavors, so combining the two makes a delicious sort of sense. Curry Up Now's signature staples are their burritos, which come in lamb, chicken, paneer and plant-based varieties. The tikka masala burrito is always a safe bet, but the ghee makhni burrito ($10.50) is a buttery contender. Those eating vegan will want to check out either the Hella Vegan Burrito ($10.50) or the Hungry Planet Burrito ($10.50) which feature all the same flavorful spices with either no meat (Hella Vegan) or plant-based protein (Hungry Planet).

From there, it's likely that you'll want to check out some of Curry Up Now's more creatively named offerings, which opens the door to even more culinary collaborations. Naughty Naan, for example, brings pizza into the mix by topping a base of kulcha naan with mozzarella, caramelized onions, shaved jalapeño and your choice of protein—I prefer the lamb with this one. The crisp, unleavened texture of the kulcha naan makes for a decent pizza crust, and all the toppings work in tandem to create an excellent pizza that's not really a pizza. The Sexy Fries, touted as an Indian-inspired poutine on the menu, are exactly as tasty as that sounds. Nothing matches the sheer scooping power of waffle-cut fries—their tuber of choice is the sweet potato—which is where Curry Up Now begins. From there, they add mozzarella and curry with chicken, paneer, lamb or plant-based protein.

As the fried chicken sandwich trend is still ongoing, it's not surprising the Curry Up Now would take a crack at this pinnacle of comfort food. The tandoori fried chicken sandwich ($10, pictured) is relatively new to the menu, and while I respect its bold flavors and buttery brioche bun, it's a bit lopsided flavor-wise. Points for the concept of pickled onions and pineapple jalapeño chutney, which are right at home on this sandwich; I just wish there was more of them to balance things out. The smoky spices in the chicken's beautifully textured exterior have a bold flavor, but without something else to even out the flavor palette, it comes across as one-note.

Of course, any good Indian joint would be remiss if they didn't pay homage to the country's amazing street food culture. Curry Up Now's vada pav ($8) evokes a kind of exploded pierogi with a mashed potato fritter sandwiched between a soft roll and served with garlic chutney. I'm also a bit of a sucker for their Itsy Bitsy Naan Bits ($8), but that's mostly because I find them adorable; little silver dollar-sized rounds of naan that come with a tikka masala dip will always be right up my alley. The monarch of Curry Up Now's street food menu, however, is the mighty deconstructed samosa ($11). It takes everything that makes a samosa one of the best snacks on the planet and doubles down by serving it up in a bowl with two bisected samosas for dipping. If you're the type of person who always feels a bit crestfallen once you've finished off your samosa appetizer, this is the dish for you.

While perhaps not all of Curry Up Now's creative ideas stick the landing, there is a lot to love about this local import. Not only is this a good place for that milquetoast diner in your squad to take a step beyond their culinary comfort zone, but its hip take on fusion cooking is always cranking out something interesting. You'll want to keep tabs on this place to see what they'll do next.