I believe in karma. It’s my version of, “Don’t screw up; God might be watching.” So how could I resist reviewing a place called Good Karma?
According to owner/chef Howard Moffett, “We went through the usual names and possibilities for the restaurant.” But when he came up with Good Karma, his wife and partner gave him the thumbs up. Moffett has had his fair share of good karma in this life, so what could be more appropriate than naming his restaurant Good Karma?
Prior to opening Good Karma in a charming little bungalow on Park Avenue in Park City, Howard Moffett had little restaurant experience. Not knowing much about the industry, he tried to enlist existing restaurateurs from Salt Lake City to partner with him before opening his Park City eatery. But some didn’t want to risk the seasonal nature of ski-town consumerism, others weren’t prepared to deal with commutes on snowy and slippery winter roads, and at least one potential partnership'a family who ultimately wound up helping Moffett with advice and recipes'bailed because car sickness prevented them from making the trip up Parley’s to Park City.
Needless to say, Good Karma isn’t backed by billionaires, silent partners or the machinations of franchisedom. But I could envision Good Karma becoming a franchise: Every community should have one.
The logo for Good Karma restaurant is a turban-wrapped sultan on a snowboard. The slogan “Curries & More” is the extent of their PR campaign. So why do most of the people who dine at Good Karma do so two, three and even four times per week? Well, I sort of hate to say it, but the place just oozes good â€¦ karma.
Which is all fine and fun, but great vibes aren’t enough to get me to return time and again to a restaurant. What’s really special about Good Karma is the food. The original idea, says Howard Moffett, was to open a Japanese-style noodle shop. But doing so in a white-bread ski town like Park City was, well, let’s say pushing the karma envelope. So observing that Park City residents and visitors had already taken fondly to Thai and Chinese cuisine, Moffett looked to the future. And the future was curry. Having spent much of his life living in Asia, curry and karma seemed like a good fit.
I honestly can’t think of a restaurant with more charm than Good Karma; eating there is like being invited to eat in someone’s home. And it’s a lesson in how to make something special out of very little. The communal tables and chairs at Good Karma are used and well-worn. I think some of the folding chairs, stenciled by Moffett with Asian icons, probably were church chairs in a previous incarnation. Burlap basmati rice bags from India are stuffed and serve as seat cushions. Thick swatches of fur are available to use as seat warmers for anyone who wishes to dine out in Good Karma’s lovely back yard. And the bathroom is the most unusual restaurant bathroom I’ve ever seen. It’s a Japanese-inspired shrine of sorts, complete with a small candle-lit “temple” presided over by a carved, wooden statue of Buddha.
But like I said, what keeps me coming back isn’t just the wonderful vibe at Good Karma'it’s the food. Howard told me that the kind folks at Curry in a Hurry in Salt Lake City provided valuable advice to him. I suspect they also might have provided him with his chicken curry recipe, which to my tongue is an exact replica of the korma curry served at Curry in a Hurry. That’s great for me, since Curry in a Hurry’s korma is the best curry dish I’ve found here in Utah. Served atop basmati rice, Good Karma’s chicken curry ($7) comes with four quarters of toasted nan (Indian pita-type bread), perfect for soaking up every last drop of the coconut-infused, slightly spicy curry sauce, which is the color of a gorgeous Indian sunset.
But although I could easily ingest three or four orders of Moffett’s chicken curry, I’ve taken lately to ordering one of Good Karma’s “curry combos,” which gives me the opportunity to indulge in that delicious chicken curry and a ground beef curry called Keema ($9). The combo plate comes with plain basmati rice, nan, a veggie side dish (order the chickpeas!) and a soda. I can’t think of another Park City restaurant where such a pleasing meal can be had for less than 10 bucks.
Good Karma isn’t only about curry, hence the “more” in “Curries & More.” With a nod to Moffett’s Japanese noodle shop idea, you’ll find ramen and soba noodle dishes at Good Karma in addition to lamb, chicken, beef and vegetarian curries. Those noodles are more than just an afterthought. I had a big, heaping bowl of ramen noodles ($7) in a wonderful soy-based broth with scallions, bamboo shoots, nori, and tender slices charsiu pork last week and was instantly transported back to my childhood, a good deal of which was spent in noodle shops outside of Tokyo.
A beer and wine license is in the works, but for now you can enjoy freshly brewed green, roasted barley and jasmine teas, along with sodas and an interesting array of fruit-based drinks at Good Karma. And for $3.50 you can even get a lovely pot of tea served right in the teapot.
This simple, low-profile restaurant makes me happier than any I’ve discovered in Park City for years. Lucky me! I guess I’d just call this discovery a case of good karma.