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Naan ‘n Curry on Van Ness

May 1, 2007

Naan ‘n Curry, that ever-expanding empire of cheap, mediocre curry restaurants in San Francisco and the East Bay, has, in recent months, conquered more territory and set up a new province — this time, at the corner of Turk and Van Ness, in the border region between Civic Center and the Tenderloin.

tb_naan_curry_van_ness_storefront.jpg

We’ve been going to Naan ‘n Curry restaurants in both San Francisco and the East Bay for years upon years now; they have such a cult following here, it is essentially impossible to avoid them. Whenever going out with friends for a meal, someone is bound to suggest “Well, what about Naan ‘n Curry?” Then someone else will say: “Yeah, great idea!” By that point, the damage is done, and our attempts at countering this train of thought usually fail, especially since their well-placed restaurants are often frustratingly accessible. Anyway, the end result is many trips to Naan ‘n Curry. In a post from last year, in which we reviewed various locations of Naan ‘n Curry en masse, we essentially put forth the following opinion: sometimes Naan ‘n Curry can produce some decently tasty dishes, and other times they are not at at all tasty or well-prepared. All in all, everything averages out to a mediocre 2-star experience. The fare at Naan ‘n Curry is by no means the “best of the Bay.” The obvious draw here is the cheap price, but it is always worth noting that restaurants like Darbar manage to serve superior fare for perhaps slightly higher (but still entirely comparable) prices.

So, given this opinion, why would Short Exact ever go to a Naan ‘n Curry on our own, voluntarily? Well, the main reason is to respond to readers of this blog — not directly, as no one has ever emailed us to specifically ask for a review of the new Van Ness Naan ‘n Curry. However, we’ve noticed that increasingly, many people doing Google searches end up on this site by typing in strings like “naan n curry van ness”, and the like. Now, we haven’t reviewed this particular branch before now, but we have reviewed Naan ‘n Curry, and one of the neighborhoods listed in the side bar at the right is “Polk Gulch/Van Ness.” The combination of these two text strings has led people to this site, even if this restaurant didn’t specifically appear here. At any rate, we felt bad about all the people who came here looking for a Van Ness review but didn’t find it, so hopefully this post will fill in that gap.

Naan ‘n Curry restaurants are never stylish, but this particular branch has a surprisingly fun, comfortable, well-put-together interior. With the branch on O’Farrell (on the border of Union Square and the Tenderloin), this is probably one of the nicer looking branches. The dining protocol is exactly the same, though: study the menu while standing near the doorway, order your meal at the counter, and then bring your own plates, silverware, and water to the table.

We ordered the chicken biryani:

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This dish was acceptably good, and it was of better quality than what we’ve largely come to expect out of Naan ‘n Curry. A recurring problem with Naan ‘n Curry is having to wade through pools of excess oil on the plate, and while this dish was oily, the oil was generally kept in check — although this is at least partly due to the fact that we did not order one of Naan ‘n Curry’s trademark watery curries, opting instead for the biryani, a dish of chicken and rice. The basmati rice added an aromatic touch, and the cumin and cardamom (both should have been more pronounced) managed to permeate through to rather moist, surprisingly tender pieces of chicken, although the dish was a tad oversalted. As the above picture makes clear, the presentation of this dish was not exquisite (with the chicken rather unceremoniously buried beneath the mounds of rice), and this preparation somehow lacked the wonderful characteristic fragrance of an excellent biryani, but overall, this was surprisingly decent. On the grand scale of things, not great, but definitely pretty good for Naan ‘n Curry.

Service seems to be a touch slower than at other branches of Naan ‘n Curry, but we couldn’t say for sure if that’s true in general, since we’ve only made this one visit to the Van Ness branch. At any rate, it’s a little hard what to make of this trip, since it is only one visit. Is this Naan ‘n Curry truly better than the other branches, or did we just happen to stumble upon a decent dish? To be certain, we’d have to go a few more times, but for now, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. This post is not a ringing endorsement, though, so take it with a grain of sea salt.

RATING:

COST:

690 Van Ness Avenue (at Turk St.)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415.775.1349
Hours: Mon-Thurs, 11:00 am – 10:00 pm; Fri, 11:00 am – 11:00 pm; Sat, 11:30 am – 11:00 pm; Sun, 11:30 am – 10:00 pm.

Cuisine: Indian/Pakistani
Neighborhood: Polk Gulch/Van Ness

How to get there: Muni lines 5, 31, 38, 47, and 49.

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11 comments

  1. […] nor does the contact information of the restaurant appear at the end of this post. Please click here to read our separate review of the Van Ness branch of Naan ‘n Curry. The original post […]


  2. Part of what turns me off about Indian food is its richness. Every time I order one of those curry’s I know what to expect…some rice and a bowl of chicken, lamb or whatever in an oily or creamy sauce.


  3. Gosh, you are so kind to cater your posts around your visitors! Lots of people chance upon my blog with some strange search terms, and I just chortle at their misfortune!

    I am a little dismayed about the chain-like nature of Naan and Curry. At some locations, the naan is a bit too charred at the edges and their food is a little salty for my tastes. Thanks for inspecting all of the branches Detective Short Exact, and adding Van Ness to the list! 😉


  4. I am a little dismayed about the chain-like nature of Naan and Curry. At some locations, the naan is a bit too charred at the edges and their food is a little salty for my tastes.

    I completely agree, on all counts. I have to say, if they keep opening additional branches, my patience will wear thin, and I will probably just ignore them altogether. 🙂


  5. Now that’s catering to your clientele. I approve.


  6. That huge barn on the corner has been a strange, doomed restaurant location since Jeremiah Tower opened up Speedo 690 there oh so many years ago. Though I have heard from others besides you that the “Naan ‘n Curry” chain are subpar compared to other Indian joints in the Bay Area, it’s still a great addition to a neighborhood with not enough inexpensive eateries.

    And thanks for stopping by “Civic Center.”


  7. i just moved back to sf after a five-year absence. i have eaten at the naan + curry on vanness@turk 4 times in three weeks and i think it’s great for the price. the curries could use a bit more meat but other than that you can’t beat it for the amount you pay.


  8. I agree with the reviewer on only one thing: the service was unacceptably slow.

    Other than that, this is far and away the worst Indian food I’ve ever eaten in my life, and the worst I’ve ever had at a Naan ‘n Curry (I’ve been to several, many times).

    My wife and I got food poisioning from the place (we didn’t even eat the same thing!), and the chai tasted like someone poured the contents of an ashtray into the chai pot. Maybe someone did pour the contents of an ashtray into the pot.

    Avoid this place like the plague, if you care about your health.


  9. Lawrence, sorry to hear about your food poisoning and very poor experience. My experience was nowhere near that bad, and at the time I went, it was actually better than other N+C’s — so either you were unlucky, or there has been some sort of systematic decline. At any rate, sorry for your bad experience, and thanks for writing in.


  10. On the NBC news tonight, they mentioned that this particular restaurant (Naan n Curry on Van Ness) had the lowest health inspection score of any place in San Francisco. They scored in the 40’s out of 100. I would recommend staying as far away from this place as possible.


  11. I haven’t been there since writing this review, actually, but thanks for the heads up.



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