Foo Dog Curry Traders
The world of curry is more like a galaxy of flavors and styles. The spices and herbs used in curry vary from country to country, and for intrepid local diners, it is rare to find curries that span the globe in one single restaurant. Until now, that is, with the opening of Chef Howard Kirk’s new venture, Foo Dog Curry Traders.
Known for the housemade charcuterie and traditional Spanish dishes served at 13 Gypsies, his cozy Stockton Street restaurant, Kirk was eager to showcase his passion for curry in a completely different type of eatery. When a space down the block from 13 Gypsies became available, Kirk and his partner Brandy Klopp seized the opportunity, and Foo Dog Curry Traders was born.
“The concept is curries from around the world — but not all at the same time … they will change with the seasons,” Kirk said. The menu will always have several Indian staples such as Vindaloo and Masala, but every few months, it will also change to feature Japanese, Malaysian, Jamaican and other styles of curries. “For a long time, I’ve traveled and researched the different spices used for each type, learning how each country makes curry. The dishes at Foo Dog are my adaptation and interpretation.”
With limited access to international ingredients, Kirk said he struggled to get the recipes as authentic as possible and had to consider the need to source products on a regular basis. “Galangal for instance may be hard to find consistently, so I experimented with how to reproduce the flavor by giving it the ‘chew’ test. I bought some online, chewed it for awhile and then played around with other flavor combinations. I made a blend of ginger, lime and garlic to replicate the taste. That way I am not dependent on access to galangal.”
In addition to curry dishes, the menu also includes non-curry options such as fried rice, noodles and various stir-fry choices. Kirk’s approach to Foo Dog is different than how he views dining at 13 Gypsies. “When you come into 13 Gypsies, you are paying for the chef to feed you the way the chef wants to feed you,” Kirk explained. “Here, the menu has composed dishes you can change.” The Chickpea and Spinach Masala, for instance, can be ordered with chicken, pork or tofu, if that is how a customer wants it.
Another departure from his flagship 13 Gypsies is every dish at Foo Dog starts off vegan (with the exception of a couple of non-vegan appetizers such as Ginger-Basil Chicken Wings and Cured Pork Belly Salad). The restaurant is also gluten-free. “That’s easy to pull off,” Kirk said, with rice noodles, cornstarch and other ingredients replacing the need for wheat products.
Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., the eight-table restaurant offers takeout and delivery, a win for local late-night passersby looking for deliciously satisfying food after hours. All the food is served on biodegradable bowls and plates, reflecting the chef’s desire to be as green as possible. “I’m not the guy you see out at earth festivals, because I’m busy. I’m not advertising it, I’m just doing it. Using compostable products is by no means cheap. If it were more affordable, more businesses would be on board,” Kirk said. The drinks, in recyclable cans or bottles, include a lineup of exotic soft drinks with flavors like watermelon, pineapple and kola champagne.
And what about 13 Gypsies? Don’t worry, Kirk has a succession plan, with Kevan Kimball, his Chef de Cuisine, taking over in the kitchen. “It was difficult stepping away, but I have to do it in order to grow,” Kirk said.
As our local culinary scene continues to evolve, we’ve been longing to see a fast-casual eatery option that defies the norm, bringing bold new flavors to the city, and Chef Kirk’s new concept delivers. “I wanted to make things you can’t find anywhere else around here,” Kirk said. Whether you dine in or grab a bowl to go, your taste buds will appreciate the arrival of Foo Dog Curry Traders, a quick trip around the world, right here at home.
Visit Foo Dog Curry Traders in person at 869 Stockton Street or order online at foodogjax.com.