Curry Up Now Goes Fusionistic in Oakland
It's where pakora meets poutine.
Photo by Lori Eanes
Akash and Rana Kapoor were food-truck pioneers. Launched in 2009 and serving fusionistic Indian fare, their Curry Up Now truck struck such a chord with Bay Area eaters that the husband-and-wife team launched a brick-and-mortar location in downtown San Mateo in 2011.
Curry Up Now’s fifth restaurant opened this year in Oakland.
“We’d been looking for the right location for a couple of years and finally found one that matched what we believe in and what kind of food we serve,” Akash Kapoor said of the San Pablo Avenue space that formerly housed the Hibiscus Café and Mockingbird Bistro.
“It’s such a good fit for us that we now realize we should have been here years ago.”
Updating puris, thalis, chaats, and other classics, the menu sports such head-spinners as sweet puréed-lentil halwa, schnitzel-style noodle cutlets, crispy sev noodles with guacamole, and fried cheese ravioli with tikka-masala dip.
Photo by Lori Eanes
“In the sense that it’s partly traditional and partly nontraditional, and in the sense that it’s cool and risqué and really out there, our concept is right in line with what Oakland residents believe in,” asserted Kapoor, who first moved to the East Bay more than 20 years ago and whose family owns buildings in Oakland and Berkeley.
“By risqué, I mean that a lot of people would say, ‘What? You’re filling a burrito with Indian food? You’re topping a poutine with Indian food? You’re crazy.’”
As soon as they entered the Oakland space, it reminded them of the metropolis near their hometown. “Right away, my wife and I both said, ‘It has that old Calcutta feel’—the wainscoting, the window line. It could be an old Calcutta office.”
Further evoking the veranda effect are rattan chairs, vintage photographs, original artworks, and a working 1920s gramophone.
From a menu that ranges from aloo-gobi tacos to tofu thali to naan pizza, Kapoor’s personal favorite dish is the deconstructed samosa, a lush mishmash crowned with mini-samosas.
“We like to have fun with these things. It keeps us fresh and interesting, and it also confuses people.”
Curry Up Now, 1745 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, 510-858-7475, CurryUpNow.com.
Published online on April 7, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.