10725 E. Colonial Drive | 407-273-0004 | kurrykababexpress.com | $
When I saw Suresh Subedi, the wide-eyed proprietor of Kurry & Kabab Express, taking, entering, cooking and serving orders all on his own, I figured we’d be waiting a good long while before forking food into our mouths. When he declared our order would take 20-25 minutes (“the kebabs are made fresh to order,” he said), that wait seemed an all-but-foregone conclusion. I tried making sense of the “Express” in the restaurant’s moniker and thought it a presumptuous addition. But I have to hand it to Subedi – our vegetable pakoras ($2.99) and vegetable samosas ($2.99) came out within a fitting timeframe. Yes, he was too busy to hand us our beverages and napkins (we ventured behind the buffet stand/counter and helped ourselves), but the quality of the spinach-and-onion fritters, as well as the nicely seasoned stuffing in the samosas, helped us overlook the lapse.
A good chunk of the business here comes from takeout, which explains why entrees are served in plastic foam containers and eaten with plastic utensils. The space itself is sparsely decorated with just a handful of Bollywood posters, but Subedi hopes to change all that. The Brahman from Nepal bought the year-old restaurant in December and hopes to tweak the interior as well as the menu by adding Hakka and Pakistani dishes. Proper plates and silverware will be employed, and – perhaps most notably – the name of the restaurant will change to Dawat Indian Cuisine.
Now, if you’re wondering why a Hindu would serve halal meat, it’s because many of the restaurant’s patrons are Muslims. I’m sure a good lot lamented the absence of Afghani lamb ($12.99) and Afghani chicken kebabs ($10.99), and I winced when Subedi said he was out of my fave chapli kebabs ($10.99), but there was no shortage of replacement contenders from which to choose.
Case in point: moist, mildly spiced ground-chicken seekh kebabs ($10.99), smothered in onions and peppers. These were, unquestionably, our favorite dish of the evening. The beef kafta kebabs ($11.99) weren’t as pliant and were even a little dry, though we loved the pronounced flavors of ginger, garlic and cinnamon.
On the curry (or “kurry”) front, both the aloo chole ($8.99) and the goat curry ($11.99) aroused us with a healthy inclusion of garam masala, but both suffered from a heavy-handed use of salt. That said, scooping up the thick chickpea-potato curry with buttery naan ($1.75) was just as enjoyable as ripping into the luscious chunks of goat, then dunking shreds of flaky paratha ($1.50) into the ruddy sauce. All dishes came with a considerable amount of rice, but the rice could be better; it lacked the necessary tender-yet-firm texture and wasn’t as fragrant as we hoped it would be. Along with all the other planned tweaks, Subedi may want to tinker with his recipe for gulab jamun ($1.25; $2 for two) as well. The spongy, fried milk balls were largely flavorless, and the warm syrup wasn’t nearly as aromatic as it should’ve been.
It’s not like Subedi is oblivious – he’s fully aware that while improvements need to be made, he’s got something here he can build on, and there’s a definite market for good Indo-Pak fare on this side of town. But there’s only so much one man can do.
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