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Finger-licking flavor of Salt Lake City's Curry Fried Chicken

Published August 22, 2012 2:53 pm

Dining out • Indian flavors add depth to a classic dish and to other, lighter options.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It isn't often that an assignment catches me by surprise — after all, there are only so many cuisines and twists that a restaurateur can employ. When I read the three words, Curry Fried Chicken, though, I had to take a moment to pause and consider the awesome ramifications of such a heady mix. And I don't use the word awesome lightly. I love curry in all of its forms, and who doesn't love fried chicken? After all, Salt Lake City is noted for launching the first franchise of some seriously famous fried chicken.

Curry Fried Chicken moved into State Street spot vacated by Greek City Express several months ago. The location next to Bar Deluxe Tattoo is relatively small, a blink-of-the-eye-and-you-might-miss-it-type of place. There's on-street parking, but there's also space for a handful of cars around the rear of the building — just ignore the signs for Greek City Express.

Once inside, you'll see a long wooden counter space overlooking the open kitchen, with more counter seating at the front of the restaurant facing State Street, as well as large wooden tables in the dining area. Outside, there's a small patio area. The restaurant is the third operation from the local Nisar family, whom you may recognize from Sugar House's Masala Indian Grill and State Street's near-iconic Curry In A Hurry.

Like the family's more established counterparts, Curry Fried Chicken serves Indian/Pakistani cuisine with the speed and alacrity more commonly found with fast food. The small, delicious menu offers starters and sides, pita wraps ($6.49) and larger, more filling plates ($9.99).

At 99 cents a pop, the Samosa, a seasoned potato-stuffed turnover, is good way to start. It is small, but flavorful and well-priced. Hummus ($1.99) with warmed pita (99 cents) or a salad ($3.49) are other options, but I was more intrigued to nibble on the hot fries ($1.99) — perfectly crunchy crinkle cut fries, direct from the fryer — coated in a seriously incendiary Indian spice. Even as a spice lover, these had me reaching for a cooling drink quickly. While Curry Fried Chicken doesn't have a liquor license, it does offer a range of sodas ($1.49), chai ($1.95) lassi's ($2.95) and imported sodas such as Vimto ($2.25), the European cream soda inflected fruit drink.

For lighter meals, the restaurant's wraps come in four varieties: shwarma, curry fried fish, keema kabob and veggie curry. All wraps start as a large, warmed pita, then are layered with crunchy salad and a mix of sauces, both a white cooling sauce and spicy red chile sauce. The shwarma piles chunks of seasoned chicken breast onto the wrap and was my pick of the bunch — I could happily eat these day in day out for lunch. Chicken keema was the least interesting wrap option, ground chicken seasoned with garlic, ginger and spices, proving just a little dry. The curry fried fish was better, thanks to hunks of curry-powder seasoned white fish, perfectly moist from the fryer.

Plates, served with sides of mild veggie curry, offer a more substantial meal. These change regularly, and I sampled spinach, lentil and potato varieties over my visits — all reminiscent of Curry In A Hurry's simple, home-cooked curries. Plates also include basmati rice, a warm fluffy pita and a salad dressed much like the wraps, with cooling yogurt-and-cucumber sauce and spicy chile sauce.

If you order the curry fried chicken plate that the restaurant is named for, your platter will include two utterly delicious pieces of fried chicken. It's so good, it's almost an affront not to order a few more pieces for $1.49 a piece. The chicken doesn't lay listlessly under a heat lamp, but is served immediately from the fryer. The result is seriously juicy chicken coated in a thick, supremely crunchy exterior. While I'm not sure of the exact combination of spices in the coating — I felt like I might be asking for an industry secret — everything combined to deliver a wonderful mix of both sweetness and spiciness in every bite.

Other plate options include a grilled tandoori chicken option served with three pieces of tandoori-seasoned chicken; a curry fried fish plate, a chicken keema plate with two ground chicken patties, and a shwarma plate.

The piece de resistance here, though, is the fried chicken in the restaurant's name. Order up this marvelous curry-infused fried chicken, a cooling fizzy Vimto soda and a side of those hot fries and you have yourself a gloriously fun take on a fast food classic.

Tribune restaurant reviewer Stuart Melling blogs at gastronomicslc.com. Send comments to food@sltrib.com. —

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Curry Fried Chicken

Food • HHhj

Mood • HH

Service • HH

Noise • bb

Ever wondered how a certain famous fried chicken brand might look had it started in Karachi or Mumbai, and not here in Salt Lake City? Curry Fried Chicken brings curry and fried chicken (and more) together, creating a spicy new adventure for your taste buds.

Location • 660 S. State St., Salt Lake City; 801-924-9188

Online • http://www.facebook.com/CurryFriedChicken

Hours • Monday-Wednesday, lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; dinner 5-9:30 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Closed Sunday.

Children's menu • No

Prices • $

Liquor • No

Corkage • No

Reservations • No

Takeout • Yes

Wheelchair access • Yes

Outdoor dining • Yes

On-site parking • Yes

Credit cards • All major