When we got invited to Soul Curry in Hoboken 2 Saturdays ago to attend a Guest Chef Night’s event, I was really excited: we love this place and we are often going there, the last time being right after being back from Europe, as we were craving Indian food. At Soul Curry, the menu proposes innovative and classic dishes crafted by Chef Hari Nayak that I met again, 7 years after our first encounter when the place was called Matt and Meera. It is always a pleasure to meet with Chef Nayak: his love for his cuisine and hospitality being undeniable. I told Chef Nayak that we were sad to see Matt and Meera close, the concept of American-Indian fusion being unique in Hoboken, and he explained that after 5 years, they wanted to change a bit. I am not going to complain, although I miss the wings at Matt and Meera that were superb, but still can enjoy the naanchos, a take on the messy nachos or their Old Deli butter chicken that has now some burrata in it, adding more creaminess to the dish, as well as a soothing element for those who find it spicy (I do not).
Also appreciated is the fact that they have a nice choice of vegetarian dishes, not so surprising for an Indian restaurant, but not the kind of dishes that would repulse non-vegetarian diners: yes, it happened that we shared an all vegetarian meal with Jodi and I was perfectly fine with it, to the contrary. Last, and before I talk about the guest Chef, I would point out the shareable appetizers, especially street food, that are amazing.
So, that evening, the Guest Chef was Aarthi Sampath who worked at Junoon, a Michelin starred restaurant in the city we visited last year. I learnt that Chef Sampath started as an intern at Junoon and climbed the ladder to become Chef de cuisine that I am sure is not a simple thing. Quite impressive in fact, especially in a place like that. Her menu (a la carte or prix fixe with an appetizer, entree and dessert for $27) offered dishes inspired by North American comfort food, but with indian spices and a twist. For instance, one of the appetizers was a butter chicken poutine, with cheese curds, lime mayo, and makhni but, despite the name, no chicken. Perfect for two to share, I loved it: tasty and flavorful, with one of my favorite sauces drenching crispy (at first) fries. The second dish inspired from comfort food was the Kerala fried chicken and coconut waffle, a node to a classic southern dish. I admit that I did not really like the waffle but the chicken was fantastic: moist and well cooked, the crispy batter was infused with Indian spices.
The last one in this category was the veggie burger, with a patty made with a potato and peas patty. Fairly classic and one again infused with Indian flavors. I should also mention the salad proposed as an appetizer: a tandoori peach salad that was quite refreshing and had lots of pieces of deliciously charred peach that paired very well with the generous amount of feta they put.
We finished with dessert. And what a dessert! You could see the connection to her background at Junoon, this dessert being elegant with beautiful colors. It was a mango custard that was so light, with a superb baked mango custard with lime and champagne jello.
This was a quite good meal and I admit that, besides the fact that I love the regular menu of Soul Curry, the idea of bringing a Guest Chef once a month is great. And know that if you do not want to try the special menu that evening, you can still order from their regular menu.
Enjoy (I did)!
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Soul Curry - 618 Washington Street, Hoboken NJ 07030