Home Events + News Fresh Off James Beard Nomination, Korai Kitchen in Jersey City Reintroduces Dine-in Service

Fresh Off James Beard Nomination, Korai Kitchen in Jersey City Reintroduces Dine-in Service

by Yiwei Gu
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On Summit Avenue near Journal Square, you’ll find that shortly after the restaurant opens at noon, groups of customers file into the cheerfully lit dining room of Korai Kitchen. Here, there is no à la carte menu — the food is served fresh, with the menu changing twice per day. When each group of guests is ready, the gregarious hostess and co-owner, Nur-E, explains enthusiastically to them the dishes served for the meal — think flavorful vegetable bhorthas (mashes) of chickpeas, eggplant, or tomatoes, aromatic curries of chicken, goat, and eggs, hearty daal (lentil soup), and rohu fish, a Bangladeshi delicacy.

This is Korai Kitchen, a Journal Square restaurant serving authentic Bangladeshi fare according to home recipes. Since its opening in early 2018, the place has not only filled an unmet demand for authentic Bangladeshi food among the large South Asian communities in the Jersey City area, but has also attracted crowds all the way from New York City, Long Island, and even Connecticut thanks to a nod from the New York Times. During peak hours, you will see guests dressed in colorful saris or business suits, speaking English, Bangali, or Mandarin. Upon finishing their meals, everyone is satisfied, usually saying to each other, “This was SO good!” Most recently, this Jersey City restaurant received another accolade — this one in the form of a James Beard Award nomination. Shortly after, Korai Kitchen announced that it would reintroduce dine-in service on Friday and Saturday nights — it had previously been takeout only for some time. Keep reading to learn all about Korai Kitchen, a delicious Bangladeshi restaurant in Jersey City located at 576 Summit Avenue.

korai kitchen jersey city

Photo Credit: Alisha Rana

Return to Dine-In Service

 

 
 
 
 
 
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On Wednesday, February 8th, Korai Kitchen took to Instagram to announce its partial return to dine-in service on Friday and Saturday nights with a seven-course meal called “Amma’s 7-course Dawat Dinners”. The post said:

“You’re invited to Amma’s house! Starting this weekend, we’re resuming limited dine-in at Korai Kitchen on Friday and Saturday nights with Amma’s 7-course Dawat Dinners! “Dawat” – Bengali for “invitation” – means feasting with loved ones, and we can’t wait to share our flavors of home with you! Advance reservations required, available via @resy. Link in bio for more information. Dinner starts at 8; Amma says don’t be late! p.s. we are BYOB!”

Read More: This Hoboken Restaurant Has Pasta Flights So You Don’t Have to Choose

The James Beard Award Nomination

On January 24th, the James Beard Foundation announced its 2024 semifinalists — and Nur-E Gulshan Rahman of Korai Kitchen was included in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic section. Her nomination is only one of three from New Jersey on the entire list, as well as the only Northern New Jersey restaurant nominated. You can find the full list of nominees here, and we will keep you updated as any other news comes out surrounding the nominations.

The Bangladeshi Community

Despite the large Bangladeshi population in the New York metropolitan area, their food is under-represented in the expanding ethnic food scene here. Many Bangladeshi immigrants moved to New York in the 1970s in the wake of the Bangladesh Liberation War, and they opened curry houses serving dishes that western eaters traditionally associate with India: mild vegetable korma, spicy lamb vindaloo, and tomatoey chicken tikka masala.

Due to the low margins and fierce competition, these restaurants were under high pressure to churn out dishes fast, but the attentiveness required for traditional home cooking was largely lost. However, in recent years, there has been increasing consumer demand for a return to slower, more mindful eating with an awareness of cultural roots, and these are also the same values that Korai Kitchen tries to convey in their food.

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Photo Credit: Alyssa Ki

“This is exactly what I ate at home when I grew up,” Nur-E told The Hoboken Girl back in 2021. “When you go to a Bangladeshi home, the family meal is always a big table of many dishes. Everything is served together. Everyone shares the food. We want to give customers a truly authentic experience.”

 

What’s on the Menu

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Photo Credit: Alisha Rana

Authenticity is best showcased in the food here at this JC restaurant. Food in Bangladesh, due to the region’s long history and a myriad of religious practices, has very distinct characteristics, such as the meticulous preparation of vegetables and vegetable roots (often mashed into pastes), versatile use of spices and herbs, and, thanks to Bengal’s location within the Ganges delta, an emphasis on fresh-water fish. These traits are reflected in the cooking of Korai Kitchen. Their curry dishes are “light,” since there is very limited use of dairy and no heavy cream at all. Instead, the sophisticated flavors are achieved with the dexterous use of spices — ginger, nutmeg, cumin, coriander, and turmeric, for example. The varieties of vegetables give the food a delicate balance of texture — the softness of veggies and the creamy texture of paste and of the protein.

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Photo Credit: Alisha Rana

Oh, and the fish! Rohu fish fillets are regularly served, and more bony fish are imported directly from Bangladesh, such as the Hilsa — available with advanced orders. Word to the wise/faint of heart: Whole fish are commonly served and fish heads are the star of Korai Kitchen’s weekend menu.

Don’t be scared to dig in when you dine here — seriously, put down your knife and fork and eat with your hands (#nojudgement). The fun of it, as well as the exquisite taste of the food, will be well worth the effort.

korai kitchen owners

Photo Credit: Jenny Huang

At the back of the restaurant, where you get your refill of the silky chai beverage (it comes with the meal), you can get a glimpse of the busy kitchen, and the friendly old lady working diligently inside. Her name is Nur-E Gulshan Rahman, and she’s the chef and owner of the restaurant.

All the cooking — including dessert — is done solely by Nur-E. Since growing up in Borgra, Nur-E developed a passion for food and cooking. After a long career in the catering and grocery industry (she also owns a Bangladeshi grocery store, New Hilsa Deli, near the restaurant), she finally realized her dream and launched Korai Kitchen.

“My mom always knew she wanted to do it. This is her baby.” Nur-E told us proudly (note: both mother and daughter share the same name).

The young Nur-E, the big-hearted hostess and general manager, is in charge of the business side of the restaurant. With a previous career first in management consulting and then in jewelry design, she came to Korai Kitchen only with the intention of helping her mother with the launch — and then never left.

“I just got so attached to it,” she said. Since then, it has been a journey of exploring, learning, and growth, both professionally and personally. By focusing on every customer, every dish, and every meal, the mother-daughter team showcases the glorious tradition of Bangladeshi food in their restaurant.

See More: New Montclair Sandwich Shop Fatto Con Amore Announces Opening Date

Where to Find Korai Kitchen

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Photo Credit: Alisha Rana

Korai Kitchen is located at 576 Summit Avenue, Jersey City — an easy PATH to Journal Square Station or Uber ride. The restaurant is a 10-minute walk from the PATH on Summit Avenue. BONUS: Korai Kitchen is halal and BYOB, so make sure to bring your favorite red or white, and they also do delivery.

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