Chicago Curry House
A suburban Indian favorite hits the South Loop, with Nepalese fare in tow.
When Bala Ghimire decided to open an outpost of his popular Highwood Curry Hut in the city, something compelled him to take up residence at the very tip of a brick strip mall in Printers Row, tucked away amid condos with no parking and little visible signage. So while Chicago Curry House is technically more accessible for city dwellers than Curry Hut, it’s going to have to rely on interesting eats to draw diners beyond those who stumble over it on the way from their car to their front door.
Luckily, the place has a leg up on typical tikka masala spots with a few lesser-known Nepalese specialties. In some cases, you’ll barely taste the difference between the Nepalese and Indian preparations of, say, silky spinach or yellow lentils, so go for the dishes that truly stand out. The Bhojan, a sampler platter served thali style (pictured), is a good way to try a range of notable items, including aloo tama bodi, a subtle and earthy combo of potatoes, bamboo shoots and black-eyed peas; khasi ko masu, tender goat hunks in maroon, cumin-laced gravy, thick with bits of meat that have fallen from the bone; and kukhura ko masu, gently cooked dark-meat chicken in a garlicky coriander-tinged sauce.
Beyond the Bhojan, the vegetarian momo dumplings are worth trying, if not for the unique filling of paneer and crunchy vegetables than for the lappable achaar dipping sauce, a thin, almondy, cumin- and clove-spiced mustard concoction. Once you’re in snack mode, order another beer and keep going with the chhoela, slices of chilled, tandoor-cooked goat tossed in a bracing salad of raw onion, garlic and ginger slivers, and the kukhura ko pakheta, chicken wings marinated overnight in the Nepalese holy trinity (ginger, garlic and cumin) then cooked in the tandoor for crispy skin and juicy meat. Now these might just overcome any location obstacles.
899 S Plymouth Ct at 9th St (312-362-9999). El: Red to Harrison. Bus: 29, 36, 62. Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $12.