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Spicy San Franciso — Kadhai Chicken Burrito (Mission / Valencia)

February 26, 2014

Restaurant Name:  Curry Up Now

Location:  659 Valencia,San Francisco, CA, 94110

Website: www.curryupnow.com

“What’s the spiciest thing on your menu?”

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Kadhai ‘Wok Tossed’ Chicken Burrito

(wheat tortilla, brown rice, garbanzo beans, kadhai ‘wok tossed’ chicken, curry, possibly diced jalapeno / onions)

          Mexican and Indian food mixed together on Valencia?  Yes, please! Imagine this: a real, tin-foiled SF burrito filled with your favorite Indian dish.  This isn’t a Kati Roll that I wrote about earlier or anything that even pretends to be an authentic Indian meal, but a full size burrito that has the structural stability to stand up as if you were at your favorite taqueria.  What a great way to return to Spicy San Francisco. 

Proof of tinfoil! I should’ve included something for scale.

Situated on the very trendy Valencia St, it wasn’t surprising to find this purposefully hip fusion restaurant–our cashier even called the place “hipster Indian”.  But whether this was derisive or ironic, we’ll never know.  Curry Up Now boasts a gigantic menu that is almost a foreign language to the uninitiated.  Sexy Fries?  Unburger?  Quesadillix?  Deconstructed samosa?  No, wait–that last one sounds pretty good.

I made things simple.  Spiciest dish?  Kadhai ‘wok tossed’ chicken.  Yeah, put that in a burrito.  It was only until afterward that I realized how dangerous this choice, by itself, was.  No sour cream or guacamole that you find in a ‘regular’ super burrito to counterbalance the potential heat.  No naan bread ordered to take a break from the dish, and no mango lassi for emergency purposes.  It was like a thick, tortilla wrapped needle injecting the spiciest Indian food into me as quickly as possible without any added fluff.

Too late to turn back now, extra spicy, please!

I haven't even take a bite, and you can see the lethal curry leaking!

I haven’t even take a bite, and you can see the lethal curry leaking!

Small note:  without anything for scale, it’s hard to see how large this burrito was.  I’ve seen smaller burritos at ‘real’ taquerias.   To quantify it, I’d say this was more massive and dense than 75% of burritos that I’ve eaten in my life.

Kadhai ‘Wok Tossed’ Chicken Burrito Zeroed Heat vs. Taste Scale (Z-Scale]

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(-10) •   (-5)     (0)  X   (5)     (10)

Z-Scale Score of +2

Explanation of the Z-Scale

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          Let’s talk about the heat–first, some baseline modifiers:

•  I ordered it ‘extra spicy’

•  I added nothing to the dish

•  I drank 3 glasses of water

•  After finishing, I spooned yogurt sauce out of someone else’s dish to mitigate the heat

          This burrito was like eating a slow-motion car crash.  I knew where it was going after the first bite, one of many, and there was nothing to do except ride it out and see how bad the damage was afterward.  The initial burn after 2-3 bites put the Z- Scale Score around a comfortable -2.  But it wouldn’t stay there.  The heat (and delicious, authentic Indian flavor) was so consistent throughout the burrito that there was never any relief.  In fact, it only escalated from there.  Because I was standing the burrito up as I ate, the curry and flavor concentrated at the bottom and created what can only be called a Zone of Pain.

Long before the Zone of Pain was reached, I developed a light sweat.  The burrito was so filled with ingredients that often a bite would have very little tortilla in it–denied even the slightest break from the heat.  About halfway through, my nose started running and that’s when I realized how exponential the heat increase was.  It only got stronger and stronger the closer I got to the Zone of Pain.

          I need to address how messy this burrito was.  By the end of the meal, I had to use a spoon to actually finish it.  It was impossible to pick up the last third of the burrito out of fear that everything would fall out.  Almost soup with a tortilla wrapped around it, the dish was a bit impractical.  I have to wonder what the tortilla really adds to the equation, because there’s absolutely no way someone could eat this while walking down the street.

That said, the burrito was delicious.  I cannot stress enough how good the Indian portion of the meal was.  I thought for a while that this would be the first Perfect 0 Z-Scale Score, but the Zone of Pain was just too much.  I really didn’t even want to eat the last 1-2 bites, but I powered through.  And it only got worse when I stopped eating.  There was a persistent, lasting burn afterward while my eyes teared up–I had an entire glass of water for dessert.

         I want to return and try out the rest of the menu.  There are tons of curious items that should interest anyone who enjoys Mexican or Indian food, whether you like it spicy or not!

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