Mtume Salaam 8:43 a.m., May 24
Naked Pizza tried to simplify ‘za with iPhone apps and pictographic menus. While the PB franchise is still in operation, the Hillcrest branch didn’t last very long in the tough-to-fill spot on Fifth Avenue. Now, Kasi is trying the same trick with Indian food and they’ve picked the former Naked Pizza spot to expand their North County business into Uptown.
The simplistic menu offers mainstay Indian curries, rice, salad, naan, and tandoori chicken. That’s it. It’s a streamlined, nearly fast food approach to Indian cuisine that’s not without its advantages.
For starters, the menu’s been restricted to the most popular dishes from globalized Indian cooking. There’s chicken tikka masala, saag paneer, and aloo gobi for days. Maybe that’s not the most “authentic” selection, but it’s definitely what people like the best. And the kitchen’s preparations of those dishes is spot on. McDesi at it’s finest.
I tried the chicken tikka masala and some curried chickpeas, $8 for a combo plate with basmati rice, both of which were excellent in their way. Sort of spicy and very rich, the curries made a filling meal. Served lighting fast, it was an awesome alternative to a burrito. When you boil it down, westernized Indian cuisine bears the same relationship to its native food as burritos do to Mexican culture. It’s syncretic fusion cooking at its best (and worst) but there’s a certain appeal to that.
While I wouldn’t call it a destination restaurant, for a quick bite to eat there’s a lot of advantage to choosing curried vegetables over a California burrito or In ‘n’ Out every now and again.
3803 5th Avenue