Alexandria, VA -Some months ago, Spice Kraft opened in the former site of the beloved Bombay Curry Company, 2607 Mt. Vernon Ave. When the restaurant closed the original location, we all waited patiently for it to reopen in another location as promised. The new location was an instant success. It felt like the homecoming we had been waiting for. We all had missed the unmistakable flavors and spirit that were brought to us Balraj Bhasin and his family in the dining room. Then, the unthinkable happened, the Bhasin family announced that they were permanently closing the beloved restaurant. There were many good reasons for the closing. We mourned the loss.
Enter JMJ Hospitality LLC, owners, with manager Anthony Shankar and chef Premnath Durairaj, and the opening of Spice Kraft in August 2019. The grand opening was held on January 20. The local movers and shakers were in attendance from the Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, Vice Mayor Elizabeth B. Bennett-Parker, and the President of the Del Ray Business Association, Sue Kovalsky among others. More importantly, Balraj was in attendance as the proud landlord. When questioned about his selection of the new proprietors, he said, “I wanted to make sure curry stayed in Del Ray.” As servers brought around the various samples of food, he happily provided descriptions of each dish.
We were feted to a sampling of several dishes. The appetizer of Tandoori Chicken Wings is marinated in tandoor spices and cooked in the clay oven. The mint chutney added a hint of heat. The Spice Kraft Jinga is comprised of jumbo tandoori shrimp tempered with cumin, fenugreek leaf, ginger, garlic, and cilantro and is an absolute delight. Chicken Tikka Masala is tender chicken bathed in a slow simmered creamy tomato sauce with fenugreek leaves. We were treated to the Lashooni Cauliflower. This vegan dish was composed of crispy cauliflower with a tomato-garlic chutney and garnished with cilantro and peppers.
Vegetable lovers will enjoy this flavor packed dish. The vegan blueberry rice pudding was pronounced perfect by at least two vegans and several omnivores. Also delicious is the Coconut Pineapple Bread Pudding. This dessert is rich and decadent, redolent with shredded coconut, coconut milk, and pineapple compote. More traditional offerings include the Gulab Jamun with roasted nuts. This light pastry dumpling is made with fresh milk and sweet honey and served with a honey sweetened sauce with chopped nuts. Served warm, it’s a lovely sweet treat.
Among the many dishes, you will find an assortment of Indian dishes to fit most dietary needs. The menu includes both vegan and gluten free dishes that are clearly labeled. All of the sauces available are gluten free. Want your Vindaloo hot, just let your server know how hot you want it. Not quite as brave, ask for your classic sauce to be mild or moderate. The kitchen is happy to comply. Add your favorite protein including tofu, shrimp, and chicken, or mixed vegetables or mushrooms, and you’ve created a dish just right for you. The lunch menu offers a Curry Rice Bowl you can design to fit your mood or diet. Pick your base, protein, or veggie and a sauce. Accompanied by naan, curried chickpeas, salad, and papadam, you won’t go away hungry. You can also pick out a soup and salad combination or curry wrap.
Spice Kraft is open Tuesday through Sunday. Check their website, https://www.spicekraftdelray.com/ for exact hours.