Sunday, December 19, 2004

Naan & Curry - O' Farrell - San Francisco

478 O'Farrell Street (between Jones & Taylor), San Francisco, CA 94102, 415 775 1349

News Just In the rumour, sadly, is that Naan & Curry wil be closing at this location (considered their best) in mid-January, 2005. The good news is - they are opening a new branch a few blocks away. I spotted an "opening soon" sign the other day. More details when I have them.

San Francisco's Tenderloin area is a mecca for cheap, ethnic restaurants. It's just the place to head to when you're not in the mood for any hoity toity chi-chi-ness or if you want a filling plate of chow without spending an arm and a leg.

It's hard to persuade Fred, a creature of habit, the Frenchman with an unadventurous palate, to eat ethnic food. Fortunately for me he loves Indian. He especially likes these hole-in-the-wall type curry houses (there are many of them and several chains), because they remind him of the places he ate at when he was traveling in India. Bright fluorescent lighting, self service, general uncleanliness and unsavoury smells are all part of the attraction and charm. But the main draw is an enormous amount of spicy food you can order and consume at a great price. You might burn a hole in your gullet, but you won't burn a hole in your pay check! Naan & Curry is now a chain, but this site on O'Farrell is the original, as I understand it.

Place your order at the counter where you will be given a table number. Sit down, make yourself comfortable, or else whilst you are waiting, go and get some booze...

BYOB. Buy some Indian beer in the store next door. Smuggle it in a brown paper bag. Serve in polystyrene cups.

Lamb Seekh Kabaab Ground lamb marinated in spices on skewers and cooked in clay oven 3.99 Fred's favourite, his order every time but somehow he always neglects to let me try. I'll forgive him. But next time, Fred, don't deny me a taste of your big, long sausage!

Lamb Chops Tandori Lamb chops cooked in a Clay Oven 8.99 Five succulent, mildly spiced lamb chops. Last time we were at N & C these were superb. This time they were just ok. One of the chops, a different cut from the others tasted about twice as good and fresh as the other four. Still, all of the meat is moist and juicy and not at all dry. It certainly tastes of lamb. Don't order if you don't like your meat strong.

Sada Karayla Bittermelon cooked with ginger, garlic and onions 4.99 Woah - this is quite spicy. It's going to make your nose run. Pause. Look around the restaurant and note the number of people sniffling and doubling up their paper napkins as hankerchiefs. It sure is bitter but the spices mainly disguise that, it's just in the aftertaste that you can detect it. This dish has an unusual crunchiness from the addition of seeds. Melon seeds, perhaps? The owner told us his mum always used to hassle him when he was a kid "Eat your bitter melon up, its good for you!". He told us it's the Indian equivalent of broccoli in that respect, a food you are nagged to eat when you are a child, but which you may actually grow up to like in the end.

Naan. Huge. Twice as big as you'd expect. The crispiest sections are the best bits. The softer, more doughy parts are great for mopping up those spicy sauces. Just $1 each.

Fred, is always impressed that he's reminded of India when visiting one of these 'Hole in the Walls'. He asked me if this was like curry in London? No, I told him, I've never found this kind of place in London. It's quite different. The history and culture of the British Curry House has developed over a long period of time into something with its own identity far removed from what I imagine real India would be like. However it's the British tradition I miss the most, living here, but to exactly describe why is going to fill up a whole other post on another day and probably during another year...
Naan & Curry - O' Farrell - San Francisco


  • At 19/12/04 10:41, Blogger Ced said…

    naan'n'curry is being plagiarized by naan'n'chutney at haight and fillmore. Rotee on haight @ webster is another hole-in-the-wall that makes the lower haight looks like a second little india to the 'loin.

  • At 19/12/04 10:46, Blogger Sam said…

    yes i noticed that addition last time we were over there. I keep trying to go to Indian Oven (which has been recommended to me) but everytime I am in that hood, I just can't resist Rosamundes instead.

  • At 19/12/04 16:59, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So, when/if S. and I venture down to San Fran you'll have to give us the low-down on where to eat, where to go and how to do it all on a budget. This place sounds absolutely devine! And cheap...a resto after my heart of hearts! YUM.

  • At 19/12/04 17:00, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sorry..ugh...that was ME!

    Jennifer -

  • At 20/12/04 07:43, Blogger Sam said…

    oh yes, of course, there are a lot of budget-conscious options, hope you will make it one day!

  • At 17/10/05 11:01, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Indian Oven, on a good night, is as good as Indian food gets in the states, IMHO. Simply transcendent.

    The only issue is, a generous dinner for two with beer or house wine borders on $35-40, which is above the mark most are looking for when they think Indian!

    Within papadum-throwing distance of IO are:

    Raja: A similarly highly-rated place with higher prices. I'll stick with Indian Oven, at these rates!

    Rotee: Slightly less expensive, and very quick for takeout. Still, if I'm saving all of $6, I'll probably hit IO.

    The aforementioned Naan & Chutney: Smack in the middle pricewise between your favorite tandooriloin places and the higher-end, with food that is, sadly, easily trounced by Naan and Curry.

    They're TWO DOORS down from our apartment, but with IO around the corner...

    You get the picture. I could practically bathe in IO's dal.

    Actually, ew.


  • At 30/7/06 19:29, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    First off all, this is not a true Indian place, as they server South Asian food but is owned by Pakistanis. My first impress about this place was a cheap, not well maintained and lousy ownership and funny that all my first impressions were last too. These guys treat their guest like dirt. If given a chance I would take a legal action against these guys for misbehaving and for ill-treating their guest. I had a great day at San Francisco but after visiting this joint CURRY-N-CURRY all entire day was spoilt. I happened to pass their kitchen and was surprised to see how dirty it was. Some guys were working there with dirty hands, without washing dishes or vegetables. The plate and glass I got were dirty with food stains, implying that they were not washed properly. Their restrooms were in a sorry state. When I asked the directions to the restroom, I saw guys walking out of women restroom, how disgusting. In short, DO NOT GO THERE and ruin your day.


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