I had heard praises for Naan n' Curry both on the web and from friends who love it, so when we found ourselves on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley on a Sunday afternoon in November, 2004, we decided to give it a try. Mike had eaten at the San Francisco location several times and he liked it, but then again he loved Indian food in India. I didn't.
The food at Naan n' Curry did indeed remind me of the type of food I had at restaurants in India: it was oilier and the flavors were less complex than the food at my favorite Indian restaurants here. It was also spicier; you don't have a choice as to how spicy you want your food.
The menu is brief and includes typical northern-Indian fare, chicken, lamb and vegetable curries and some tandoori and byriani dishes (average $6-7 - rice and naan are additional). You place your order at the counter, get a number and your order is brought to your table. The restaurant itself looks like a Berkeley student cafeteria: cheap mismatched chairs and tables, a bulletin board with notices and some grime here and there for good measure.
We started with a keema naan ($3) which was probably 50% larger than those served at other restaurants and filled with a thin, solid curried meat paste. Mike like it; he appreciated the amount of meat and how well it stayed together though he found the taste a little strange. It was a little bit too spicy for my taste, but it wasn't bad. Next time I'd probably order a plain naan instead.
Mike also liked the tandoori chicken ($3 for a thigh/leg), but I thought it tasted overwhelmingly of cumin. I also thought it was both dry and a tad too rubbery - I often get better tandoori chicken at buffets.
We both liked the chicken tikka masala. The chicken had a nice, smokey flavor that I appreciated, and the sauce was creamy and slightly sweet. It wasn't as complex as the one at my favorite Indian restaurant, but it was quite good nonetheless. It was the least spicy of the items we had as well.
The lamb curry reminded me of commercial versions; the oil and other ingredients weren't well-blended and it was quite acidic and spicy. The lamb itself had bones. I didn't like it, though I found it edible, and Mike thought it was just OK.
The accompanying rice ($1) was fine but uninteresting; it was all white. The portions were probably a little on the small side and we were quite hungry.
In all, it wasn't a bad lunch but not a great one either. I probably wouldn't go back, but if you like more "authentic" Indian food, you should definitely give Naan n' Curry a try.
Naan n' Curry
2366 Telegraph Ave