Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Come for the food, stay for the... food

If I have one weakness, it's curry. Whether it's Japanese curry, Thai curry, Indian curry, Tim Curry, etc., I'm all in favor. I can think of few comfort foods that better dispel a cold, bland evening than a steaming plate of curry rice. You can imagine my delight, then, when while driving to apply for a job I spied a sign reading "Kurry Xpress."

I tend to seek out curry joints or places that serve curry wherever I go. While La Grande wasn't quite an epicurean wonderland, I did happen across an Indian buffet place while in Eugene to cover the state track meet. From then on, I've had decent success -- Akmal's (RIP) in Hilo served a great gosht korma before it closed down, and I was spoiled for choices in Jakarta with places such as Samy's Curry, Go! Curry, Mr. Curry, Hazara and Koh e Noor. The latter was a Friday-night staple at our office that proved reliable, affordable and damn tasty. I make sure to hit Coco's Curry when I'm in Tokyo, but I've learned from experience that Tokyo has its share of mediocre curry joints, too.

With all that in mind, I went into Kurry Xpress a bit wary of what quality of Indian food I would find in Omaha. First impressions were not promising. The restaurant is tucked away in a nondescript strip mall on Q Street and has little to draw attention to it. Its interior is fairly Spartan, to put it kindly, with just four booths and four tables on which customers dine with disposable spoons, forks and containers. The carpet has had sticky patches each time I've gone, the tables are usually (but not always) mostly clean, and the primary source of atmosphere is a TV in the corner playing Indian movies and music videos. Even at slow times, expect to wait at least 10 to 15 minutes for your food. If your goal is to be whisked away and feel as though you're dining in Mumbai rather than Omaha, don't bother.

If your goal is eating good Indian food, on the other hand, you should most definitely bother. The menu has a solid variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, and only the two top-end biryani dishes cost $10 or more. I've had all vegetarian fare two of the three times I've eaten at Kurry Xpress, and it's saying something for a restaurant when an omnivore like me happily chooses to eat vegetarian even when good meat-based options are available. It had a delicious mutter paneer -- a curry with peas and fresh cottage cheese, quite possibly my favorite Indian dish -- and the biryani options are notable both for their portion size and their spice. I also made sure to try the classic chicken vindaloo, which did not disappoint. Service, while not exactly quick, was helpful and patient. The mango lassi is a soothing way to quell any lingering fires from the preceding meal.

All told, I definitely recommend Kurry Xpress for a no-frills, high-flavor dining experience. True, you won't be blown away by the atmosphere, but the food is good and, really, why else would you go out to eat? I feel fairly confident in my recommendation as the majority of my fellow diners during my visits were of South Asian persuasion, and I imagine they would be fairly stern judges of a restaurant claiming to serve "authentic Indian cuisine" here in the Land of Hamburger Pizza. Even if the spelling is a little funky and the service not exactly express, I will definitely be eating here again.

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