By Kevin Pang of Chicago Tribune
Amid the uproar of Groupon’s controversial Super Bowl ad mocking Tibetan geopolitical troubles, we lose sight of what’s truly important: just how amazing is that fish curry at Himalayan restaurant?
Firstly, I take issue with Timothy Hutton using the word “amazing.” The word is so saturated in our culture that it has lost all power and meaning. Few dishes in the world have the flavor range, if one follows rule of meaning, “to fill with astonishment and surprise greatly.” Fish curry is a dish that should and could never be described as such. It’s sort of like meatloaf: there’s good, there’s bad, but there’s no meatloaf that rocks your world.
Even if Himalayan’s fish curry ($13.95) isn’t amazing, it is quite good. At its seven-year-old Niles location at the Four Flags Shopping Center (other locations in Bloomingdale and Gurnee), the curry is North Indian-style as exported to mid-20th century England, the tumeric-yellow stew with a perpetual orange surface slick. It has the standard dozen ingredients and spices: coriander, cumin, cilantro, green onions, tomatoes and as much chili powder as you can handle. I ordered medium-hot, and the curry turned my head to a sniffles machine.
With curry this brawny and assertive, any fish flavors stand no chance. Mahi mahi is a neutral-tasting whitefish anyway, so instead we judge texture, and its firm but flaky meat makes this a fine choice of protein. The best thing I can say about this curry — any curry — is that the flavors are well balanced, its spiciness a loud presence without being an overburden.
The restaurant has come off back-to-back publicity bonanzas: the Super Bowl ad, of course, seen by 111 million viewers, but also an appearance on WTTW’s Check, Please! two nights earlier. Surely fish curry is flying out the doors, right?
“No, not really, it’s not making a difference,” one server told me this afternoon. Its owner, Vivek Kunwar, is more optimistic: “Right now I don’t think people are jumping and driving to our restaurant right away because of the weather. But with the exposure, it will definitely have an effect.”
The verdict? Insensitive ad, hyperbolic ad copy, nice restaurant, decent curry.
8265 W. Golf Rd., Niles, 847-324-4150
398 W. Armytrail Rd., Bloomingdale, 630-523-5100