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Indian food fans now have a choice

Like the Jeffersons, our area is moving on up. We are not, however, heading to the East Side of New York but to the south end of Myrtle Beach.

There, at 603 S. Kings Highway, is where you will find Kabab & Curry.

It's our newest Indian restaurant, and it's also the first time since I moved to the Grand Strand nearly 17 years that we've had two Indian restaurants in Myrtle Beach.

I'm elated that our dining options are reflecting a more global appeal.

Kabab & Curry debuted May 28 and is just up the street from Bombay at the Beach at 702 N. Kings Highway, which opened June 14, 2008.

Kabab & Curry is owned and operated by Kasper Mubarak and his business partner Amjad Javed.

Both men are former residents of Brooklyn, N.Y., and believe that Myrtle Beach is an ideal spot to launch their business.

The Southern hospitality found on the Grand Strand drew them in.

"People are very nice here," Mubarak said.

A trip to South Carolina last year to visit friends convinced him that Indian cuisine would be a good fit for the area.

He discovered that not only did he enjoy country cooking, but also that people here do have an affinity toward food flavored with various spices.

"I thought that if I like their food, they will like my food," Mubarak said.

Kathy Wagner, a Myrtle Beach resident, tried the eats at Kabab & Curry last week and she enjoyed the food.

She tried a little bit of everything from the buffet, including palak kofta (spinach) with chicken meatballs, the curry chicken, chana masala (a popular chickpeas dish) and keema (minced meat).

"I have actually been craving Indian food, and it was very good," Wagner said. "I liked the [chicken] meatballs with spinach and the chickpeas best."

Although I haven't eaten there yet, the smell of the buffet was marvelous and scented the entire dining room, which is adorned with mauve-colored booths.

There is an a la carte menu, but it wasn't ready when I visited.

The buffet is available all day, with the lunch buffet costing $7.99 while the dinner buffet is $8.99.

A variety of Mayfield ice cream is also available and visible as soon as you walk in the door in an ice cream freezer, but it is not included in the buffet price.

For those of you familiar with Indian cuisine, all of the popular dishes known in America are here, including chicken jalfrezi (made with cumin, ginger and other sensational spices), several types of naan (flat, oven-baked bread that is wonderfully tasty) and chicken biryani (think chicken bog without the sausage and with lots of upscale ingredients such as cinnamon, turmeric, saffron, raisins and cashews).

Hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Call 626-9400.

Kickin' chicken

Once upon a time, I'm sure, hibachi places here were rare.

Now, hibachi is commonplace along the Grand Strand. You can find it without breaking a sweat.

Mon Cafe Japan, at 2734-A Beaver Run Road in Surfside Beach, is a little gem you should check out.

The food is good, cheap, and you get it fast.

It's been around for a while, and I've seen the burgundy awning with the eatery's name written in eggshell white through the years.

I kept telling myself, "Check that place out," and finally I did when I went shopping at the Wal-Mart Super Center on S.C. 544.

Mon Cafe Japan is right across from the store, across a tiny bridge in a tinier plaza with only the eatery and a Century 21 business there.

There is nothing special about the decor and it's typical for hibachi joints - you've seen it before in part or whole.

Yet, what I believe is definitely better than other "fast food" hibachi eateries is the taste.

The teriyaki chicken bowl is huge and delicious, and it's because of the size of the chicken, sizable mostly square chunks, and that delicious sauce. It has the right balance of sweetness with just a hint of salt.

On another visit, I tried the shrimp bowl and it wasn't as good.

The shrimp didn't have any bang and weren't set apart from other hibachi shrimp I've tried.

But you know what? That teriyaki sauce, which is made in-house like the rest of the sauces (including the ginger and hot sauce), made the shrimp speak to me.

The teriyaki chicken roll with avocado was delightful. The onion soup was merely OK.

One lady told me she and her children love the Mon chicken, which is a fried chicken breast drizzled with spicy mayonnaise sauce on a bed of hibachi rice or noodles. They loved the noodle version. It costs less than $6.

There is plenty here at a reasonable price, with express bowl meals (with the rice and meat only) costing $5.40 (chicken), $5.50 (thinly sliced beef), $6.50 (shrimp) and $7.50 (hibachi steak).

It's open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Call 215-2255.