India and Pakistan might be right next to each other on a map, but it's not often you see them listed together on a sign for a Long Beach restaurant, much less a small, Himilayan-salt obsessed one tucked away in a storefront just off Pine Avenue and Third Street.
Originally lured into the Kabob Curry vortex by its local bike delivery and selection of cheap lunch combos, the eatery has become a favorite Downtown hideaway both for its hearty mid-day portions and menu of uncommon Indian and Pakistani-style dishes.
For some reason this place is never packed, despite the fact that it recently hired a very convincing daytime sign twirler that attempts to drag people off high-traffic Broadway and over to Kabob Curry's less-than-noticeable location around the corner. Getting people to realize the restaurant is there seems to be Kabob Curry's only problem, though, because once inside, the food is tops and the decor transports you into another world.
Bookshelves of relaxation-inducing salt lamps and photos of salt mines in Pakistan line the walls, extending the restaurant's love of the pinkish Himalayan salt (which is used in every dish and is also sold in various forms through a retail space within the restaurant) to the interior design. A single television on the wall plays music videos from someIndian-British MTV
channel and there is always free hot chai tea available for self-serving while you eat in or wait for your order to go.
Though Kabob Curry has some of the typical northern Indian fare usually found at West Coast Indian restaurants (such as channa masala, aloo matar and chicken tikka), the menu also has entire sections of Persian and American-tinged anomalies, like masala naan pizzas and naan rolls. The masala pizzas use a house masala sauce instead of pizza sauce and top it with a variety of meat-and-garlic options while the naan rolls are like Indian versions of Greek gyros, made with Tandoori-spiced meats and wrapped in tin foil. All are available on lunch special for $7.99.
If other people are with me, I usually order the masala fries as an appetizer ($4.99)--another American-inspired idea that tops a plate of mediocre burger-joint fries with mozzarella cheese and Kabob Curry's mildly-spicy-but-sweet-as-ever masala sauce. Like some crazy Indian poutine (and possibly one of the best ideas ever), the sauce melts the cheese to stringy consistency, turning it into a knife-and-fork dish that satisfies masala cravings without all the meat usually involved.
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Though I've tried the more off-kilter dishes Kabob Curry offers, I usually stick with their traditional lunch combos, heaps of rice with Indian veggies and meats on a plate, that easily leaves you with two separate meals worth of food for only $7.99. The veggie dishes are noticeably darker and more oily here than at other Indian places, but that's just the Pakistani influence providing an punch of additional flavor on top of all the curry and spice.