Food

An Indian Restaurant Devoted to Butter Chicken Opens in Downtown DC Today

Bombay Street Food restauranteur Asad Sheikh debuts Butter Chicken Company.

Each $11 platter comes with butter chicken and two side dishes. Photo courtesy of Butter Chicken Company.

Bombay Street Food restaurateur Asad Sheikh is obsessed with butter chicken—so much so that he’s opening an entire restaurant devoted to the dish near the National Mall today. Butter Chicken Company will serve around 300 plates of creamy curry a day, starting when the doors open at 11:30 AM and closing when the kitchen runs out. And that’s essentially the concept going forward.

The $11 platters are heaped with the namesake dish—made fresh every morning—plus two side dishes and naan. Supporting actors include vegetarian options like chickpea masala, vegetable biriyani, and saag paneer. Customers can also opt for a helping of butter chicken’s spicier cousin, chicken tikka masala.

Sheikh’s restaurants always start with a journey to the source. When he opened Virginia’s London Curry House he took a research trip to England, whereas he returned to his childhood home for Bombay Street Food. For this new eatery, Sheikh and chef Praveen Kumar journeyed to New Delhi’s Moti Mahal, the restaurant where owner Kundan Lal created butter chicken in the early 20th century.

“I like to go back to the root of where things have started from,” says Sheikh. “When you go to Philadelphia, that’s where you get the best Philly cheesesteaks.”

Lal’s legacy is honored with a photo on the wall of the 51-seat restaurant—and he’s in good company. All of Sheikh’s restaurants feature a photo of late chef Anthony Bourdain, one of the restauranteur’s culinary inspirations.

Each of Asad Sheikh's restaurants features a photo of Anthony Bourdain. Photo courtesy of Butter Chicken Company.
Each of Asad Sheikh’s restaurants features a photo of Anthony Bourdain. Photo courtesy of Butter Chicken Company.

Kumar studied under Moti Mahal’s current owners to devise a version of butter chicken that’s slightly different from American iterations, which can have a creamy one-note flavor. The version Kumar landed on is closer to the original, boasting a stronger ghee (clarified butter) flavor and more zest from spices like fenugreek.

“Butter chicken is the most popular Indian dish,” says Sheikh. “Indian cuisine is not complete without butter chicken.”

Butter Chicken Company. 818 18th St., NW. Open Monday through Saturday, 11:30 AM until supplies run out.

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Daniella Byck

Daniella joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a University of Wisconsin-Madison grad and lives in Logan Circle.