This local chef gives hometown hero a new meaning. K.N. Vinod, a chef at Indique in D.C., is known for putting a unique twist to dishes from his home state of Kerala in India.
Vinod made his TV debut on Food Network's 'Beat Bobby Flay' and has also done cooking demonstrations for several local news outlets in the DMV.
Vinod says creativity is his specialty -- in fact, the name Indique actually comes from mixing the word unique and India. Indique, founded in 2002, is family-owned and operated by Vinod (third from left) and his son Rahul (far right) along with Vinod’s business partner Surfy Rahman (second from left) and his son Sahil (far left).
The dimly lit restaurant is situated right outside the Cleveland Park Metro Station with a wide range of seating options including balcony dining. Indique is most popularly known for their all-you-can eat, bottomless brunch.
“Unlike in other Indian restaurants where you go and just have a standard buffet. We do not have that,” Vinod said. "We have about 25 dishes on our menu. You can order unlimited, as much as you can eat, there’s no restriction, for $25. And for $12 you can get unlimited drinks as well.” Vinod says his kabob egg benedict is definitely the biggest hit at brunch.
Aside from brunch, Indique does a lot of street snacks that are presented in a more contemporary manner. We decided to try the ever popular Pani Puri.
The best part? You can pop this Indian street food in your mouth and take it like a shot.
Pani Puri is made of Semolina puffs and served with spiced potatoes and chickpeas inside paired with spiced Tamarind water. You poke a hole in the puff and stuff it, then pop it in your mouth before taking a liquid filled shot.
Indique uses a special type of Tamarind called Malabar Tamarind (also known as called Garcinia Cambogia). A lot of Americans are familiar with Garcinia Cambogia because Doctor Oz claims that it aids in weight loss.
Vinod says his mixtures have coconut water and Kokum, a sweet, sour and salty fruit grown in the western part of India. They also make a mango version as well. These savory and tangy treats packed a punch while still satisfying our sweet tooth. They’re perfect for diners looking for a quick bite/appetizer before a meal or during happy hour.
If you’re up for more of a complete meal, Vinod recommends you try his favorite dish on the menu -- Kerala fish curry. It’s the same dish he made while competing against Bobby Flay.
When asked how he keeps up with the ever-changing restaurant industry, Vinod says creativity and thinking outside the box is key. “There is a lot of competition these days. There are more and more restaurants opening up. Which is good because it keeps us on our toes. We are constantly innovating, changing the menu and going with the seasons,” he explained.
Chef Vinod recently joined the board of directors at the DC Central Kitchen. He is also a member of the Chef Network at World Central Kitchen, founded by Chef José Andrés.
We asked Vinod if he ever dreamed of being where he is now. He replied, “I consider myself very fortunate. America is the land of opportunity. As an immigrant I feel we are blessed to have the opportunity to open up restaurants. People have been very open and welcomed us with open arms.”
If you want to check out Indique during D.C. Summer Restaurant Week, click here to make a reservation.