Where to wow!! tikka in the Fenway, where Indian cuisine is made with familiar spices and sauces, and delivered to your table quickly.
Why Because so many things on this menu are outstanding.
The Back Story Owner Gopinath “Gopi” Nair says that he wanted to open a casual spot where students would be comfortable and their grandmothers would recognize all the dishes, even though the space — a counter where you order — looks very different from a traditional Indian establishment. He had two spots like this in New Haven, called Tikkaway Grill, closed now (one was open for 10 years). On a radio show in 2015, he said, “Tikkaway is foreign cuisine in a local language.” Yale Daily News wrote that students called the restaurant “Chipotle of Indian food.” That’s exactly what Nair is up to at wow. He wants to do for Indian cuisine what other fast-casual spots have done for Mexican. Nair attended culinary school in India (he’s from Kerala) and earned an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. His partner, Kannan Kesavalu, from Pondicherry, owns Maya Indian Bar and Grill in Wakefield, and is also culinary-school trained. They met working at the hotel Taj Coromandel, Chennai.
What to Eat Wow offers build-your-own bowls with a base that might be basmati rice or a mix of brown rice and quinoa, and fillings such as chicken, paneer, lamb kofta (meatballs), aloo made with potatoes. Sauces range from mild (tikka masala) to spicy (vindaloo) to sweet (mango curry). On the list of street food dishes is delicious, juicy chicken tikka bathed in bright red chiles and turmeric; the popular sandwich vada pav, potato fritters inside little buns; and naan kati rolls, in which the traditional flatbreads are rolled up with chicken or paneer and masala sauce. Order tandoori chicken as kebabs or, for a mishmash of cuisines, inside a trio of tacos. Lentil-based mulligatawny soup with coconut milk is a spicy, warming bowl.
What to Drink A cold version of Madras coffee, the specialty of South India; mango lassi, an orange-colored yogurt drink made with the fruit pulp; and turmeric-scented chai latte are in the cooler, all made on the premises.
The Takeaway Nair says his intention is “to bring Indian food to the mainstream, make it approachable, easy, and make Indian cuisine a top priority. The only way to do it is to open it up, take the mystery out of it.” To that end, this menu, with its good value, nutritionally balanced dishes, and plenty of fresh vegetables, is irresistible. 84 Peterborough St., The Fenway, Boston, 857-250-2062, www.wowtikka.com