BY AMANDA M. FAISON
APRIL 3 2014, 11:30 AM
If Biju Thomas' name sounds familiar, it might be because he co-authored The Feed Zone cookbooks (I raved about Portables here). Or it might be because he's been the executive chef for the annual USA Pro Cycling Challenge, not to mention a nutrition adviser to many professional athletes. But Thomas' new project has him stepping out of the sports arena and into the restaurant world.
Come late July, Thomas will open Biju's Little Curry Shop at 26th and Walnut streets in RiNo. The fast-casual eatery will focus on the cuisine of his childhood in Kerala and southern India. There are certainly other fast-casual Indian spots in the marketplace, most recognizably Bombay Bowl, but the fare is usually inspired by the northern part of the country. "[Little Curry Shop] is the first-of-its-kind, southern Indian–inspired fast casual concept to open this side of New York City or San Francisco," Thomas says.
Southern Indian cuisine is lighter and its diversity reflects the region’s cultural influences from Portugal, Great Britain, and Eastern Europe. "Most people think of all Indian food as what they've had at local restaurants," Thomas says. “My food is completely different...[it's] vibrant, with varying textures and colors; bright, focused flavors; and no cream or butter."
Expect from-scratch dishes such as biriyani (a classic vegan dish of mixed nuts, fruit, ground spices, and rice with fresh vegetables), and the kochi roll, a house-made flatbread stuffed with greens, chickpeas, rice, and yogurt. Beef, chicken, egg, or salmon can be added to the dishes, and diners can tinker with the heat quotient. “[The menu] is the evolution of what I grew up eating,” Thomas explains. “These are the things I think are awesome.”
The Little Curry Shop will open in a historic building that’s being refurbished to house multiple concepts, including a ramen shop, Park Burger, and Zephyr Brewing. If all goes well with construction and permitting, the eatery should open in late July.