According to Asad Sheikh, owner of Bombay Street Food and Butter Chicken Company, Americans need to learn more about spice. At his newest restaurant London Curry House, you won’t hear servers asking what level of spiciness you want for your food. Each dish has been through a rigorous testing process to achieve exactly what Sheikh wants: The perfect mixture of spice, flavor and heat.
Take the fish and chips. Sheikh actually delayed opening London Curry House by three weeks because he wanted to perfect this dish specifically. But now, it’s ready for patrons. Each piece of fish is fried to an even crisp, chips are spiced and cooked to a soft-but-not-too-soft consistency and the entire dish is topped with their signature curry sauce.
Before working on designing and perfecting the menu, Sheikh took his team to London to sample the curry houses around the city.
“It’s a lot different than what we get in the U.S.,” Sheikh says. “The curries have more spice and flavors. But in the U.S., a lot of Indian restaurant owners think Americans won’t like it. I’m the guy that says no, we have to introduce Americans to the spice. They will like it.”
When Sheikh talks about spice, he means both definitions: heat and flavor. His team creates their own spices in-house, grinding down coriander and cumin seeds which give dishes an extra bit of effort — and it shows. Each dish I tried was warm and aromatic to a level I haven’t experienced elsewhere. Every dish is made-to-order, too, not food isn’t waiting to be warmed during open hours.
“Washingtonians should know when they come to London Curry House, they won’t get their typical restaurant,” Sheikh says.
Dishes are unique to London’s curry scene. Along with the fish and chips with curry sauce, you’ll find kofta with egg in a cilantro, mint and green chili sauce; signature dishes like rezala and dopiaza; and cocktails made from classic Indian spices like chai. Cocktails are new to Sheikh’s restaurant group: While Bombay Street Food carries beer and wine, London Curry House got a little more experimental with a full bar setup.
“The space is very cozy and warm when you come in,” Sheikh says. “There’s a full-service bar and late night is available. These are the things I want to give to D.C.”
London Curry House checks the boxes for cozy and unique. The space looks like a downtown swanky London spot, with decorations paying homage to its inspiration. British flags line the walls and a signature red telephone booth — with a working phone — greets you when you walk in. London Curry House is one of the only restaurants in D.C. open late. Hours are 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. on weekdays and the restaurant is open for in-person, takeout and delivery options.
Though this idea was finalized in April when things were looking up pandemic-wise, Sheikh is hopeful Washingtonians will still come to experience his new space. London Curry House is sure to provide some winter warmth both in coziness and flavor.
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