A bowl of masala beef with all the extras, plus a veggie samosa.EXPAND
A bowl of masala beef with all the extras, plus a veggie samosa.
Mark Antonation

100 Favorite Dishes: Masala Beef at Biju's Little Curry Shop

No. 100: Masala Beef at Biju's Little Curry Shop
A curry bowl at Biju's stands out as an inspiring option for the first great dish of 2016. Owner Biju Thomas focuses on one thing — the bold flavors of South India — and weaves in themes that ring true for modern diners: a limited but well-executed menu; a variety of ingredients and textures all in one bowl; and lean and healthy options that still pack plenty of punch. 

While all of the options — vegetarian, coconut or vindaloo chicken, or masala beef — are satisfying without being too heavy, we're particular fans of the braised beef swathed in a rich, brown sauce seasoned with ginger, garlic and warming spices. As you walk down the line of the fast-casual setup, just say "yes" to all of the options: stewed lentils, crisped cubes of potato, a squirt of yogurt sauce and a crunchy topping of cabbage slaw and papadam crumbles. Add a spoonful of blistering chutney — from a choice of three heat levels — and you've got a riot of colors and tastes atop basmati rice. Each bite yields something different, but the tender, saucy beef brings everything together; spikes of chile and cilantro come forward only to be brought in check by savory potatoes and rice.

This is the way we want to eat in the new year: fresh, local ingredients with international influence brought together in a fun environment without pretension. Good food — especially when we're spending money in restaurants - should be innovative, unique and ultimately delicious. Biju's excels on all counts. 

For the next year, we'll be counting down the best dishes in the city — from longtime classics that keep us coming back to new additions that have caught our attention. If there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section, or shoot us an e-mail at cafe@westword.com.

Hungry for more? Check out our slideshow of the best photos from last year's 100 Favorite Dishes.

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