Sherman's Food Adventures: Curry Lounge

Curry Lounge

Back in the day, I would make the occasional jaunt into White Rock/South Surrey to meet up with friends for some eats.  However, that would be mostly relegated to Marine Drive.  In the recent past and present, I have been heading out to the establishments littered around 32nd Avenue in South Surrey.  It started with spots like My Shanti and Sammy J's.  Then Famoso, S+L, Afghan Kitchen and Mink Chocolates.  Add in many of the big box stores and specialty shops at Morgan Crossing, we have a vibrant community that only continues to grow.  Prior to the Covid-19 shutdown of everything, I made my way out there again to try out Curry Lounge with Mijune and David.

From the outside, it didn't do the interior decor justice as it was clean, modern and classy.  Combined with typical Northern Indian dishes, the menu at Curry Lounge features more creative items from owner/chef Jatin Sharma.  Probably one of our favourite items was served first in the Mushroom Mumtaz.  These featured button mushrooms stuffed with cheese, veggies and spices cooked in a spinach sauce.  At first, I thought this was a chicken dish as it wasn't apparent these were mushrooms.  Beyond the creamy texture of the filling, the flavours were impactful and harmonious.  In addition to the earthiness of the mushrooms, we got an extra hit with the cumin.  With russet potatoes stuffed with minced chicken and cooked in kashmiri-style sauce, the Kashmiri Chicken Dum Aloo was also good.  The potato was firm, but still fully-cooked.  Moist and mild-tasting, the chicken filling was aromatic and nutty.  It tasted more impactful with the coriander chutney served on the side.

With plenty of tin foil over the bone, the Murg Chengezi was delicious.  It featured bone-in chicken clay-roasted then cooked in a Mughlai-style rich sauce.  The dark meat chicken was so moist and tender, that it literally needed very little effort to eat.  It was juicy due to the amount of sauce clinging to each piece.   About that sauce, it was creamy, nutty and earthy with a touch of spice. To further amp the flavour-quotient, there was a side of butter chicken sauce as well.  Looking like tubes of formed chicken meat, the Gulafi Chicken Seekh was one of the more subtle-tasting dishes of the meal.  It featured minced chicken with a blend of spices cooked in a clay oven.  Yet another Mughlai delicacy, these kebabs were moist and exhibited light garlic and ginger notes.  It was also very lightly spicy too.  Again, the side of chutney was needed to elevate the dish.

Cooked in brown onion gravy, the Lahori Lamb Dum Pukt was another awesome dish.  Just by appearances alone, it had tasty written all-over-it.  Even before getting to the sauce, the rack-of-lamb chops were beautifully charred.  Hence there was a smokiness to go with the marinated flavour of the meat.  Oh and that gravy...  Aromatic, earthy and lightly spicy with caramelized sweetness, this not only elevated the lamb, it was perfect with rice and naan.  I kept going back to this over and over again.  On that note, I did pair it up with the Lamb Biryani.  Yes, plain basmati rice would've been more appropriate, but this worked well too.  This straight-up was excellent on its own with plenty of spice and natural lamb flavour.  The rice was nutty and chewy with the usual earthiness from the cumin and background sharpness from the ginger.  Each piece of lamb was buttery soft and well-seasoned.

We ended up adding a classic dish to our meal albeit done in a way that is not typical on North American menus.  The Indian-Style Butter Chicken had all of the best parts of the butter chicken we are familiar with including a rich creaminess accented by mild tomato and spices.  However, the most noticeable difference was the addition of cashews which made the concoction thicker and of course nuttier.  Lots of aromatics to go with the chunks of charred tandoori chicken.  Delicious!   We happened to be there as they were participating in the Curry Challenge, so we tried their creation - Mughlai Chicken Sensation (chicken breast stuffed with mince lamb, cashew , almond and raisins with a brown fried onion and cashew paste sauce).  Another winner here as the chicken was moist while beautifully charred on the outside from the clay oven.  Stuffing was nutty and sweet from the raisins with a touch of gaminess from the lamb.  Reminiscent of a korma, the sauce was creamy and aromatic from the cashew paste.  It had a rich caramelized sweetness from the onion as well.

We weren't done yet a this point, where we tried out a few more items including the Palak Corn.  Yes, most of us are familiar with palak paneer which features the rich spinach puree with garlic, ginger and spices as well as chunks of cheese.  This version was purely vegetarian and it was so tasty, I didn't miss the paneer.  Supremely creamy and full of depth, this was served pipping hot (the temperature really heightened the flavours).  Loved the pops of sweet corn to go with the earthy savouriness of the palak.  Moving onto another saucy creation, we had the Yellow Dal (lentils) cooked with onion, garlic and tomato.  Also served scorching hot, this really helped elevate the spices and level of spice.  As a result, the dish was full of impact and once again, the absence of meat wasn't an issue at all.

Of course Mijune was not satisfied, so we got one last savoury dish in the Chicken Tikka. Rather saucy, the pieces of chicken were tender and almost juicy.  Although there was obvious char, the resulting moisture (probably from the marinade) limited the smokiness and carmelization.  On the other hand, the amount of "sauce" on the outside also meant there was plenty of flavour.  Yet again, the side of chutney was welcomed as it added both brightness and spiciness.  On the side, we were serve Stuffed Spinach Naan, Garlic Naan and Tandoori Roti.  As much as the garlic naan was fluffy with appealing elasticity and leoparding, the real star of the show was the thin tandoori roti.  It was large, thin and pleasantly chewy (which means it was soft, but still retained a chew).  As for the stuffed naan, it was also good, but a bit more charring would've improved its appearance.

Onto the sweets, we were served Faluda Ice Cream, Gulab Jamun and Ras Malai.  Generally, Indian desserts are quite sweet and these were along those lines, but I enjoyed them anyways.  This could've been a result of two factors including the heavy meal we just consumed and also the desserts were sweet, but not crazy sweet.  Starting with the faluda, the ice cream was smooth while the rose syrup did make things sweeter.  As expected, the floral rose water helped sweeten the gulab jamun while the scoop of mango ice cream helped vary the flavours.  My favourite was the ras malai as it was simple and refreshing.  Yes, it was sweet and aromatic too as well as being creamy.  A nice finish to an epic meal that was full of creativity and well-executed proteins.  It is truly nice to see so many great food options in the area.  Kinda makes me want to be closer...

*All food and beverages were complimentary*

The Good:
- Not just the regular
- Food served at the right temperature
- Modern dining space

The Bad:
- Maybe a bit far for most people
- Tables nearby could've been cleaned faster

0 comments: