A decade after its demise, India Joze Restaurant is back as a bright and cozy cafe on Front Street. Chef Jozseph Schultz has been an integral part of the local culinary scene after closing the popular restaurant. He has been busy catering, selling high-intensity propane wok burners, leading food-based tours, and teaching classes at UCSC, Cabrillo, and, more recently, New Leaf Markets.As before, the menu at India Joze is inspired by a wide array of internationalflavors—from Lebanese pita point salad, wokked Vietnamese chicken, India's Goan Vindaloo, Greek calamari, Persian lamb and more. My first dish was Lamajoon ($6) whose roots lie in the Anatolian peninsula of what is now Turkey. I chose feta cheese over the traditional minced lamb topping. This seemingly simple pizza, 15-inches oblong and topped with a pesto-like sauce, exuded an orchestra of flavors. Just as one might note nuances of blackberry and leather in a hearty red wine, the effect on my palate differed with each bite. Crisp, thick, crunchy edges with a soft if not downright buttery center, I noted floral flavors, then mint, bitterness, and fennel. Knowing of Schultz's penchant for wild and foraged herbs, the ingredients could have been any of the above. Similarly, a sip of iced Joze Chai ($3) hit me with cinnamon, leaving cloves and nutmeg resting on the back of my tongue.
Gado-Gado ($10) is based on an Indonesian cooked salad. Rice, strips of thin egg omelet, stir-fried vegetables and turmeric-pickled vegetables were served with a side of rich peanut sauce dressing.
Don't forget to sample the fresh dipping sauces including hilbeh Yemeni chili sauce, walnut-garlic skordalia and sweet raisin chatni. And for dessert, the chocolate-covered almond toffee is exceptional.
India Joze Restaurant, 418 Front St., Santa Cruz, 325-3633. Beer and wine. From 11 a.m., and until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, midnight Friday and Saturday, and 5 p.m. Sunday. Visit indiajoze.com.
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