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Curry Up Now

Start with a truck…

Before he bought the food truck, Akash Kapoor was a mortgage banker and founder of one of the country’s largest debt-settlement firms. But he tired of foreclosures … and in 2009, he bought the truck. Three years later, Kapoor left the debt world behind and focused on feeding Indian street food to Bay Area residents.

Today he owns four trucks, four restaurants and two craft cocktail bars called Mortar & Pestle. They’re based in San Francisco, San Mateo, San Jose and Palo Alto A fifth restaurant is coming soon. Curry Up Now is a mini-chain on its way to becoming a maxi-chain.

The restaurants serve more items than the trucks, but their core is the same. Base sauces, chutneys and curries are cooked at the commissaries and sent to the outlets nightly. Other menu items are prepared in house.

We’ve eaten our way through most of the menu and have yet to find an item we didn’t like. Our fave dishes are the Angry Idli Manchurian ($7), Bhel Puri ($7.50), Sexy Fries ($10), and desserts Hot Balls on Ice ($7) and Gulab Malpua Crepe ($8.50).

The dishes are all street food — mostly Indian street food but with an occasional burrito in the mix. This is San Francisco.

Curry Up Now SF is in the heart of the hyper-hot Valencia Street food zone. Its patrons are hip and young; partly drawn by the exotic tastes, partly by the cheap prices. This is a San Francisco bargain.

What else draws San Franciscans to Valencia Street? The exemplary Marsh Theater. Coffee houses. Bookstores. Art galleries. Taquerias. Hipsters.

Travel Tip: Parking is rough. Walk, bike, taxi or MUNI.

Taste Tip: There’s a fair amount of heat in this spicy food. What cools and soothes is the delicious Mango Lassi ($3)

Comfort Tip: In winter (of San Francisco’s non-summer), add a layer; Despite the spices, Curry Up Now can be chilly.

Curry Up Now. 659 Valencia Street near 18th. 415.504.3631. Sunday-Thursday: 11:30am-10pm; Friday-Saturday till 11:30. http://www.curryupnow.com/san-francisco/

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