I visited Café Arazu in downtown Newburgh, Ind., on a recent Saturday evening on a mission to try the coconut shrimp in sweet curry sauce over white basmati rice. I quickly learned this is not a regular menu selection. It’s an occasional special, offered at $15.95, and had been the featured dish just the night before my visit. Fortunately, the kitchen had just enough left to accommodate my order.
This dish is, indeed, special. Five crispy, coconut-coated fried shrimp bask in a pool of curry sauce that is slightly sweet, yet packs a slight punch of spice, surrounding a perfectly-presented portion of basmati rice topped with a sprinkling of dried fruit. It is this juxtaposition of flavors that customers love, according to bartender Abbi Shoulders, who acted as my server. I agree.
The flavorful food and welcoming atmosphere keep customers coming back for more. Owner Penny Nejad says, “I’m surprised at the number of regulars who come in 3-5 times a week.”
Satisfied customers are Café Arazu’s priority. The purchase of adjacent property in December 2011 afforded space for a recently-completed kitchen expansion, which will shorten ticket times (length of wait from order to dining). With that in place, the restaurant will extend its popular patio seating this summer.
According to Nejad, she and husband Ben will be ready to turn their attention to another project as the restaurant slows down during the cooler months. They plan to replace a building on the edge of the newly acquired property with a combination gelato and gift shop, purveying fine wines and chocolates, and gift baskets containing the same. “We have a vision for Newburgh,” Nejad says. “We think it’s such a nice area.”