New Indian Restaurant Celebrates
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
The Curry Kebab is located in the 2nd Floor Tower of the Hafa Adai Exchange, just across Marine Drive from Atkins Kroll (look for the Dolphins sculpture at the parking lot entrance). The restaurant is only accessible by a stairwell that is decorated with plants and Indian artwork. At the top of the stairs in the foyer are two 3-paneled screens, each containing fifteen pictorials explaining the many spices and herbs used in the preparation of Indian cuisine. You'll learn about Curry Leaves, Coriander, Star Anise, Mint, Bay Leaf, Nutmeg, Mace, Fenugreek, Cumin, Saffron, Cardamom, Cloves, Cinnamon, Poppy Seeds, Fennel, Chili Powder, Black Pepper, Ginger and more, with each name conjuring up it's own unique flavor contribution that makes Indian food so popular world-wide.
The owners of The Curry Kebab are Chef Ashok Pandian, along with his wife, Matti, and brother-in-law, Steven, who is also a chef. They have been here for a few years, with Ashok having experience cooking in Saipan and is known locally for putting on the highly popular Indian Buffet the Onward Resort. Once you enter the glass doors of The Curry Kebab you will find yourself in an Indian atmosphere created by colorful artwork hanging along the walls and on the high ceilings as well as the sounds of Indian MTV ("Bollywood") music DVD's that are playing on several monitors throughout the room. Pungent fragrances in the air tantalize but don't overwhelm, and if you chill easily from cool air, you should bring a sweater, since the air conditioning works too well! (this is great for those of us who relish the internal heat created by spicy foods!).
The Curry Kebab will be open from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., Monday - Friday serving a buffet lunch. Dinner will be offered from an la carte menu service and will be available Monday - Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
The buffet entrees will vary daily, and there will be three vegetarian dishes, such as Daal Makhni (seasoned lentils with butter and flavored curry sauce), Channa Masala (Garbanzo beans cooked with three kinds of traditional sauce), and Aloo Saag (Potato and Spinach cooked with herbs and green curry sauce). These and many other vegetable dishes will be available to order a la carte from the dinner menu. The buffet lunch will feature two meat dishes, one being a Tandoori delicacy and the other a Curry dish. Salads and fruits will be available, as well as Chapatti bread (thinly rolled out unleavened Tawa bread). The buffet price will be $8.50 inclusive.
Dinner at The Curry Kebab will be the main event for most people, who will be able to select from a diverse selection of Indian specialties, ranging from Appetizers (Samosa's, Bajjis, Papaddam, and Chicken Pokara); Soups (Lentil, Mulligatawany, and Tomato), Salads (Cucumber, Green, Apple); and Rice Specialties (Kashmir Pulao, Rice Pulav, Beef or Lamb Biryani, and Chicken Biryani) --all rice dishes are served with chutney and raitha ("raitha" is a deliciously refreshing condiment that is made from cultured, home-made yogurt that is whisked and mixed with cucumber and herbs).
There is even a Children's Plate available for $6.95, which consists of a mild serving of Chicken Tikka, Navratan Korma and rice with dessert. I should note that you need to specify to your server how you prefer your dishes served--mild, medium or hot.
The menu features some seven Tandoor Delicacies (Tandoori cuisine is an ancient Indian art of cooking, passed down thru generations. The Tandoor is a clay oven, made from high quality clays, crafted with natural binding agents, and fired by charcoal embers. The chamber temperature of Tandoor ovens often heats up to temperatures of 800 degrees F.) Tandoor Chicken, Tikka, Malai Tikka, Taangrii Kebab, Shola Kebab, Fish Tikka, and Tandoori Lobster are featured entrees, with prices ranging from $14.95 - $17.95.
Seafood will be served in a variety of compositions, with Fish Curry, Masala Fried Fish, Shrimp Masala, Shrimp Curry, Grilled Shrimp, Crab Ginger Fry, Crab Vindaloo and Grilled Scallop available on the menu. (Both crab dishes are priced at $22.95, while other seafood items run from $11.95- $15.95.)
Lamb and Beef entrees will be popular, with such exotic fare as Lamb or Beef Syrian Fry (a touch of ginger, garlic, cumin, coconut flakes and curry leaves marinate the meat and then fried dry), Lamb/Beef Sagwalla, Curry, Vindaloo, Korma, and Chettinad are among the choice of entrees.
The Chicken entrees range from Hot & Spicy Chicken, Chicken Pepper Fry, Chicken Makanwalla, Chicken Tikka Butter Masala to Chicken Moghulai, Korma and Kadai Chicken, with prices running between $10.50 - $13.95.
Naturally, one of the most popular and memorable items featured in Indian cuisine are the breads (Rotiyan). Naan (leavened white flour bread baked in Tandoor) leads the pack, and will be served plain, buttered or garlic. Another bread is Paratha (multi-layered whole wheat bread), and it will have a mint variation. Phulka, Chapatti, and Tandoor Roti (flat whole wheat bread baked in Tandoor) complete the bread options at The Curry Kebab. These can be dipped in the savory mint chutney or in the plum sauce with tamarind.
For alcoholic beverages, you can order both domestic and imported beers and you may choose from a modest selection of wines. Other beverages include Masala Tea, Lemony Mint, Mango Lassi(fresh home-made yogurt shake with Indian Alphonso mango pulp), Strawberry Lassi, Shakes, Iced Tea and Sodas.
The Curry Kebab's menu is ambitious and will certainly become the object of many diners attention and interest as they make return trips to try new, unfamiliar entrees. They all sound enticing to me. The lunch buffet will offer a larger selection of foods to try each day, however, most devotees of Indian food will make dinner their preferred time to visit The Curry Kebab. Let's wish Ashok, Matti, and Steven success in their new venture, which I consider to be an important addition to Guam's list of quality dining establishments. Call 649-4151 to make your reservations.