A delicious Indian jewel in remote Skagway, Alaska.
Mr. B and I just returned home from our very first cruise – a week-long adventure to Alaska aboard the Golden Princess. We had a wonderful time and made some great memories together – notably zip-lining in Ketchican and witnessing the glaciers near Juneau – but I’m pretty sure I gained at least 20 pounds on the trip (only a slight exaggeration) which I blame entirely on the rich offerings of the Canaletto Dining Room and Maitre d’ Giovanni’s thoughtful, dedicated attention. The food in the shipboard dining room was delicious and abundant and Mr. B and I enjoyed it like Foodies Gone Wild. (Note that the on-board buffet food is a whole ‘nother story.)
Nevertheless, when we made port in Skagway near the end of our trip, we were both ready for a little culinary diversion – something simple, good and relatively healthy that smacked of home. That, however, is easier said than done: there just aren’t very many homey, healthy little places to eat in Skagway. Sure, you can get all the beer and smoked salmon you can hold, but if you want something different, it can be hard to come by – at least in the touristy part of town that we found ourselves roaming through. Then, when we had all but given up, we stumbled onto a delicious little Alaskan jewel just off the main street – one that thankfully didn’t have a single diamond or tanzanite on its menu. (That there’s a little Alaskan cruise humor.)
Bombay Curry is a humble place – no fancy carved facades or silk saris hanging from the walls here – but the offerings are tasty and plentiful, and it is definitely some of the best food you are going to find in Skagway.
Even before we even set foot in the place, the wafting scents of warm curry were pulling us in from across the street. We arrived about 1:30pm; still plenty of time to enjoy the $12 “Lunch Plate,” served cafeteria-style from behind the main counter. Hoping to share, I asked how much we could have on one Lunch Plate, and the remarkably good looking young man behind the counter smiled and replied, “As much as the plate will hold.” Then he proceeded to fill ours with, among other things, tender curried rice, a thick vegetable korma, and some of the smoothest butter chicken I’ve ever seen. Upon sampling it, I realized that there wasn’t a whole lot of chicken in the Butter Chicken, but the depth of flavor more than made up for any lack of protein; moreover, the succulent, creamy sauce and its sweet, delicately spicy finish complemented everything it touched. Later on we were handed a small foil packet of fresh naan – not the best I’ve ever had, but definitely good-and-then-some, with a texture and weight just right for scooping rice and sauce from plate to palate. Mr. B opted for some of the tandoori chicken wings, and judging by the speed with which he stripped the bones, he enjoyed them immensely. His nose started to run (as it always does when he eats anything spicy) and he said they packed a mild punch, heat-wise, yet carried the flavors well and more than satisfied his rather discriminating palate.
The highlight of my meal, however, was my vegetable samosa. The samosas were kept in their own special little case and not included with the Lunch Plate, but we purchased one anyway, mostly because I love a good samosa, and this one was one of the best I’ve ever tasted. The pastry was altogether tender, crisp and flaky; the filling rich, moist, and full of subtle flavors of coriander and turmeric and, more than likely, the family’s proprietary blend of garam masala. Generously-sized, my samosa was a meal in itself; the flavors only enhanced more by the accompanying tamarind sauce.
The ambience is casual but homey in a weird I’m-going-to-try-to-forget-I’m-a-tourist-for-minute kind of way: sitting in the dining area, I could easily believe I had landed in some little SE Portland nosh hangout. We enjoyed our lunch on paper and plastic while watching Indian pop videos on the large flat-screen hanging on the wall. The entire meal, which included one Lunch Plate (more than enough for Mr. B and I to share!), a couple of pieces of freshly baked naan, two sodas, a huge samosa and a generous tip came to only $20 – a real deal in my book.
Before leaving, I spoke briefly to the owner – a very hospitable man – and found that he was a reformed jewelry salesman who had first come to Skagway twelve years ago along with the seasonal throng of diamond and tanzanite peddlers. At some point, he realized he had something more to offer, and thank goodness he did – now he and his family serve up some of the best plates in Skagway.
Bombay Curry is open May through September for lunch and dinner. Their menu includes a variety of lamb, chicken, seafood and vegetarian specialties.