The hunger paradox has crippled us all from time to time: you don’t want to sacrifice taste or quality but you also don't want to spend a fortune; you’re in a hurry and rapidly approaching stages of hanger mean that waiting an hour at a trendy restaurant is out of the question. Thankfully, in the past year more and more “fine-casual” restaurants are popping up, making it not only feasible to satisfy your hunger on a budget and in a hurry, but with Instagram-worthy dishes so pretty and full of flavor you know you'll be back for more, with friends in tow. One of our favorite fast-casual spots in Denver and winner of Best Meal in a Bowl from this year’s Best of Denver is Biju’s Little Curry Shop. Dishing up southern Indian curry bowls for six months now, the restaurant shows no signs of slowing down.
The mission and concept of the Curry Shop is simple and tasty. It’s a build-your-own-style restaurant, allowing you to add everything you want and leave out anything you don’t and to choose your spice level and protein to create your own perfect curry bowl. What we love about Biju’s is how easy it is to make a vegetarian or vegan dish full of bold flavors that will, without a doubt, please any herbivore’s palate — all without hassle.
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To begin, choose between jasmine rice or cashew and date biriyani. Next is the protein: the vegetarian option features a ladle of lentils over the rice followed by a mixed vegetable curry. Potatoes are then added before the dish gets a dousing of yogurt moor and/or your choice of spice. We went with the roasted mint and tomato chutney sauce. It is the mildest of the spices but still has a good kick to it and, well, we prefer not to cry in public when we’re eating (the samandhi, adacheri and gun powder toppings are all for chile-heads). After the sauce comes a colorful confetti of cabbage and citrus slaw. The line moves effortlessly and before you know it, you’re presented with a meal that takes only a bite or two to recognize how well thought-out and complex the flavors really are.
After things get a little mixed up, the flavors begin to build on each other. With a kick of spice here and a little zest there, your taste buds dance with each bite as you fall quickly into a curry time warp only to emerge on the other side, having traded an empty stomach and bowl full of curry for a full stomach and an empty bowl of curry. Some bites have you thinking, “I don’t even know where this spice is coming from, but it’s so damn good.” While other bites will inspire deep, contemplative thought… or maybe just inspire you to tell your friends about Biju’s.