Indian buffets are as common as be-goggled winter bicyclers in these parts. From Everest on Grand to Gandhi Mahal in South Minneapolis, you can find yourself a steaming plate of something spicy in virtually any corner of Minneapolis-St. Paul. But out on squeaky-clean Hopkins Main Street, where storefronts are young and the businesses predictable, there’s a 49-seat spot called Curry ‘N’ Noodles.
The lunch buffet ($9) is good, the naan varieties extensive, and the samosas flaky fantastic. The restaurant bills itself as Indo-Chinese, a now-popular combination in India itself. The cumin-laced wok creation called Chili Chicken is earthy and decent, but the masala dishes on the evening menu are where things really blow up.
Indian food has a mysterious way of being delicious even when it’s not. The harmony of a billion spices humming in every bite satisfies a hankering for the exotic. It can be lukewarm or a little bitter and still be interesting simply because of its immense depth of flavor. Curry ‘N’ Noodles takes this idea, wraps it in cream (a practice typical of Northern Indian cooking), and turns it out fat and rich and fit for the most gluttonous king.
A great example is the Malai Kofta ($11). Soft golden orbs of fried mashed potatoes, like savory doughnut holes, are paired with a yellow curry that has the buttery decadence of something like crème brulee. Along the same lines is Saag Gosht ($13), a velvety sauce of sautéed spinach and flavorful cream coating impossibly tender chunks of almost gamey goat. And the Butter Chicken ($11) kills, with a kind of tomatoey parmesan tang to its own silky sauce.
The Mirchi Ka Salan ($10) is an excellent choice for fans of a little more heat. It highlights whole, braised green chilies that look like the biggest, most chartreuse penne pasta you’ve ever seen. They appear swimming in a creamy peanut- and sesame-spiked curry and let their juices go at the slightest prodding, permeating the rest of the dish.
If you haven’t quite slurped and buttered yourself into a tight, after-dinner coffin, make a last grab for the Gulab Jamun ($4), the dessert of toasty milk pastry balls swimming in golden syrup. The burnt caramel edge to the syrup keeps it from sending you from the shop shivering with diabetic convulsions.
Entrees at Curry ‘N’ Noodles arrive in small metal bowls, precious enough to coo over before ravaging their contents. And honestly, the level of richness is so great that you need only moisten the rice with a spoonful or two of whatever you’ve ordered. The portions aren’t enormous, but they suit the food’s density and high quality. You might even want to save a spoonful or two just to relive the glory the next day, as an appetizer to your real and, let’s face it, far less princely lunch.
Curry ‘N’ Noodles
Indo-Chinese in Hopkins
802 Main St
Hopkins, MN 55343
OWNER / CHEF: Prem Gollapalli / Ranjith Rajendran
HOURS: Sun-Mon and Wed-Thurs 11-2:30pm and 5-9pm
Fri-Sat 11:30-2:30pm and 5-10pm
BAR: Beer and wine
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED: Yes / No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Limited
AVERAGE ENTREE: $9-$15