Curry is a cosmopolitan spice that spans across cultures from India to Japan to Thailand. Various cuisines feature curry and the flavor offers a lot of different surprises. From mild heat to inferno, each palette tolerates different levels of spiciness. Orange County's best curry dishes are diverse, paying homage to traditional flavors and classic plating presentations. The five best curry dishes in OC suit all different occasions, moods and appetites.
Tamarind of London
Crystal Cove Promenade
7862 E. Coast Highway
Newport Beach, CA 92657
Tamarind of London is one of OC's finer restaurants, which sets the standard for an elevated Indian dining experience. For the best and signature curry, Tamarind of London features three outstanding dishes: Lahori murgh shorba is classic chicken curry slowly braised in an onion tomato base; Kashmiri lamb roganjosh, or lamb curry, which is slow cooked in onions, tomato and Kashmiri red chilies; and baingan ka salan, aka baby eggplant curry, Indian baby eggplant covered in a moilee curry sauce served with Indian risotto. The curry doesn't stop there — another favorite is dakshini jhinga (coconut prawn curry) made of jumbo prawns in a traditional ginger and coconut milk sauce. Paying homage to India's flavorful traditional favorites, the menu is diverse and suitable for a range of appetites and palates.
Callaloo Caribbean Kitchen
4137 E Anaheim St.
Long Beach, CA 90804
The Caribbean Islands do curry too. Callaloo Carribean Kitchen, a little hole in the wall, features a menu of stewed, jerk and curried meats and vegetables served traditional island style. The food here is incredible and a celebrated item is Callaloo's curry goat. The succulent meat is well-seasoned with traditional ingredients including curry, Scotch bonnet chilies, thyme, garlic and onions. Curry goat is slow cooked in Callaloo's own Caribbean blend of curry and served over steamed white rice, aloo (curried potato) and channa (garbanzo beans). Be sure to try the restaurant's Jamaican house-made drinks such as sorrel, soursop and pina coladas.
131 E Memory Lane,
Santa Ana, CA 92706
Thicker and slightly milder than Indian curries, Japanese curry dishes are made with an array of meats, vegetables and rice. Curry House takes the popular Japanese ingredient to the next level with its newest menu item, oden curry. This hearty Japanese stew (soy based) has chicken, beef, fish meatballs, egg, daikon radish, potato and vegetables all in one savory bowl. In line with the restaurant's name, Curry House offers various curry dishes including keema curry rice with ground beef curry, sesame chicken curry (popular with curry newbies), katsu curry, tofu and seafood. Each dish stands out from the other and can be ordered in varying spiciness.
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Thai Nakorn Restaurant
11951 Beach Blvd.
Stanton, CA 90680
Varying in preparation and flavor from Indian curries, curry dishes from Thailand are often created from curry paste and coconut milk. Thai Nakorn Restaurant has been welcoming patrons for years, and what brings them back is the use of fresh ingredients and aromatic flavorful traditional Thai cuisine, including curries. A Thai curry favorite is tom yum kah gai (chicken coconut soup), which is a house specialty at Thai Nakorn. This soup features a balanced blend of curry and chili paste, simmered chicken, bamboo shoots, fresh basil and eggplant. Larger groups like to order family-style so everyone gets a chance to taste the different dishes. Thai Nakorn's beef panang curry (a little sweeter and milder curry dish) and chicken Malaysia are excellent choices for sharing.
15435 Jeffrey Road
Irvine, CA 92618
Clay Oven is an Indian restaurant that incorporates longtime tradition and old kitchen techniques with modern ingredients and dining lifestyles including vegan and gluten-free. Clay Oven creates signature original recipes featuring specialty curry dishes. Based on practicing Ayurvedic eating principles, each entrée maintains seasonal flavor. Made from a family recipe, stewed goat curry is known on the menu as “favorite goat curry” for a good reason. Chef Geeta Bansal also creates an aromatic vadouvan-spiced (an Indian curry blend created with shallots and garlic) rabbit in a red wine curry.
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