#272: Curry Pizza House

11:45AM, 3/13/2022


Today I headed over to Curry Pizza House, located at Douglas and Sierra College, to see what they had to offer for lunch. This is a small but rapidly growing chain with about a dozen locations and nearly as many listed as coming soon. All but one are in CA, with most of those being in the Bay Area. As you probably gathered from the name it is a Indian/Pizza fusion concept. This isn’t the first one we’ve had in Roseville so far. Chicago’s Pizza With A Twist (AKA PizzaTwist) played with these flavors on pizza already.

I’ve been kind of jonesing for these flavors recently and it’s also been a little while since I’ve had pizza so this was a very enticing choice for lunch. After realizing I was down an hour this morning do to the time change I packed up and headed out the door. I arrived at about 11:45 and headed in to a very quiet store. Well, quiet other than the droning of the oven hood, which is located strangely very close to the front door. No music was playing, though about 25 minutes into my visit it was turned on, at a low volume. There was a TV in the corner near the door playing basketball at a very low volume as well. Only sitting right underneath it did I even notice the sound was on.

The space is small, no doubt most of their business is take-out. There are just a few tables to sit at along the wall. On that wall is a nice mural. Browsing through the photos of their other locations I see that a nearly identical mural is featured in most if not all of them. Overall the space is clean and modern.

I was greeted by a woman from about halfway back in the kitchen as soon as I walked in, asking me if I was picking up or ordering. She met me up at the register to take my order and pointed out a couple menus on the counter. I had already pretty much picked out my order earlier at home but took a peek to make sure what I wanted was also on this menu. It was, but with some new information. I was planning to do a half and half pizza and this menu specified prices for a large or X-large half and half. I asked if they did 50/50 in less than a large and was told no, large is the smallest they offer. And that’s the story of how I now have leftovers in the fridge.

Anyway, I went ahead with the large and ordered half Palak Paneer and half Curry Chicken Masala [$25.99]. I hastily selected a beer from the four tap handles, which ended up being a Dust Bowl Taco Truck Amber Lager [$6]. After I sat down and took a closer look at my receipt I was thinking that it felt close to Round Table prices.

The woman, who by the way was the only person I saw working there the entire time, looked mildly busy, not that I had a great view over the counter from my booth. It took about seven minutes for my beer to be brought out, and another 14 minutes for the pizza.

The beer was nice, light and refreshing. It could have been about 10-20º cooler. I’m noticing more restaurants and even taprooms are serving beer a bit warmer than I’d prefer. Lack of pre-cooled glasses are a part of it. It just makes me appreciate those places that serve beer super cold and crisp even more I suppose.

On to the pie! This thing was packed from edge to edge with toppings. I sort of went back to my thoughts on RTP pricing and decided it felt like a pretty decent value for the sheer amount of chicken, paneer and other ingredients you get. The slices had a little bit of weight to them. The crust held up really well to it. Without being overly crunchy, blackened or burnt in any way, the crust had a very nice structure to it that helped keep all the toppings in place when picking up and holding a slice. I only lost a couple pieces of chicken to my plate the entire meal, which I thought was incredible for what should have been a very messy pizza.

On both sides the sauce/cheese/toppings were well assembled and very consistent throughout. Toppings were well seated into the cheese layer, which played a big part in how the whole thing held together.

The Palak Paneer consisted of pesto sauce, cheese, spinach, red onions, masala paneer, green chilies, ginger and garlic. The green pesto could be seen around the edges peaking out across the crust. The combo of green chilis and ginger gave each bite a mild to medium kick of spice. After a few bites it was really nice and hot. I loved the little cubes of paneer, which had crisped up just around the top for a little texture boost. Overall I enjoyed this half and would have it again.

The Curry Chicken Masala consisted of curry sauce, cheese, bell peppers, red onion, diced tomatoes, masala chicken and cilantro. I don’t usually care for cilantro but will tolerate it when it’s not a major ingredient. Here they had used a ton of it and it was the first flavor that hit my senses, for both smell and taste. It was however quickly overwhelmed by everything else on this side of the pie, and I had no issues with it. Man I loved this side. Although I’m still full as I type this a couple hours later, just thinking about it again I considered grabbing a slice of it from the fridge. I think the star was the curry sauce, which was incredibly well balanced with everything else. The chicken was plentiful, tender and flavorful, and the onions were just right, a bit softened by their time in the oven with just a bit of a satisfying crunch inside.

I have to admit, I sort of expected to like this place just due to the fusion concept but that Curry Chicken Masala really knocked it out of the park. Should I return here again I think I would do a create your own and add some paneer to this.


AM22: Ramen 101

11:35AM 3/5/2022

On Saturday I visited Ramen 101, located right next door to Century Theaters at Blue Oaks and Lonetree in Rocklin. This was my first time visiting since May of 2020. I remember sitting at a table outside and it was so surreal. The normally packed parking lot was basically empty and there was barely a sound aside from the light traffic on Lonetree and some birds (see video below). I had found the spot and eaten there early in the month and visited one more time a few weeks later. Today marks visit #3. I have been eagerly looking forward to this one, since in the mean time I had discovered Fukumi and have wanted to compare the two.

Silent, Deserted Parking Lot – May 2020

They have about 15 locations, of which 3 are in the Sacramento area and the rest are all in the Bay Area. The nearby locations are in Rocklin, Sacramento and Elk Grove. Sounds like there might be one coming to Rancho Cordova soon as well, according to a co-worker. Coincidentally interesting factoid – the Antioch location is located on a street called Lone Tree, much like our Rocklin location on Lonetree. Conspiracy? Maybe. I’m willing to accept that a time-traveling Delorean ran over a second tree on each of these roads in the past. But I digress, on with the post!

I arrived just after 11:30am to a nearly packed house. It was only during a few brief moments during my visit that everyone cleared out, I got my opportunity to snap a photo of the dining room, and then it filled back up again almost immediately. The place seems to have a following. I waited in line for a few minutes behind someone and skimmed the menu. My target was a Tonkatsu-style ramen to compare directly with my favorite bowl from Fukumi. And there it was, simply named “Tonkatsu Ramen” (roasted pork, boiled egg, Kikurage Mushroom, bamboo shoots, fresh green onion, sprouts, fish cake)[$12.95]. I picked that out and added corn [$1] and roasted garlic [$0-1?] to get a bit closer to what my Fukumi bowl is typically like. Note: the menu showed that the garlic add on should be $1, however on my receipt the line item showed $0. Also, they were out of bamboo shoots today.

On my first visit I had also picked out the Unagi rice bowl to check out something additional (photo at end). Today I went with the Rice Masubi [$5.95]. Interestingly, they also offer a bunch of Hawaiian BBQ options, which I completely missed on my previous visits. I might have to return and check some of these out later. I finished my order off with a fountain drink [$2.95] (they also have a small handful of bottled options including beer, tea and sparkling water).

I snagged a table and filled my cup at the soda fountain. I had barely sat down and organized my now slightly ridiculous collection of gear (for those interested, I just added a page with info on what I use here) when my ramen was brought out. The Spam Masubi followed about 4 minutes later.

Visible at the top of my bowl was green onions, bean sprouts, roasted garlic, pork chashu and the Kikurage mushrooms. A tiny bit of corn was peaking out and the tip of 2 fish cakes were also just above the broths surface.

I love that they roast entire cloves of garlic here. I was struck by the visual difference in the chashu compared to Fukumi and it led me down a small rabbit hole googling if all Chashu are created equally. Seems that it can be pork belly or shoulder. Fukumi is clear that their chasu is pork belly. Ramen 101 simply calls it Roasted Pork Chashu. This pork was delicious, if not quite as melt-in-your mouth tender as Fukumi’s chashu.

The Kikurage mushrooms stood out to me as well. I recently had these mushrooms, also known as Wood Ear Mushrooms, for the first time when I made a Korean dish called Japchae and had to seek them out at KP Market in Rancho Cordova. I’ve never actually seen them in a restaurant before today. They have a slightly rubbery texture, but not chewy, and not a whole lot of flavor. Not the most appetizing description, I know, but I do think they’re an interesting addition to this bowl.

Getting into it, the bowl was nice and hot and filled with noodles just below the surface. The noodles were al dente, compared to Fukumi’s noodles which are noticeably more tender. The broth was savory and a little salty. Considerably less intense than Fukumi’s, but still quite good. Down towards the bottom I found the whole soft boiled egg. The fish cakes were an interesting little treat. I’m not actually sure if I’ve ever had these before. They were very similar in texture to the boiled egg white, soft and tender. What flavor they had was totally overwhelmed by the rest of the bowl though. I will note that you have a selection of spice levels for the bowls. I selected spicy but there was only a tiny hint of heat after several consecutive bites.

The spam masubi consisted of two large pieces of rice with a thin slice of spam, lightly seared, and wrapped in nori with a bit of teriyaki sauce in-between. These were simple and tasty.

Ramen 101’s name is on point. It’s a great introduction and has lots of options and non-overwhelming flavors. I love that they also have the Hawaiian BBQ options as well. The service I’ve experienced has always been fast and friendly and the space is bright, clean and well kept. Pricing felt reasonable. For the ramen my taste buds prefer Fukumi’s flavors. Maybe yours will prefer Ramen 101’s.