Chef Howard Kirk and fiancée Brandy Klopp of popular Riverside tapas restaurant 13 Gypsies recently snatched up the former Tres Leches space on busy Stockton Street and quickly transformed it into a casual 20-seat counter service curry house.

 

Southeast Asian influences abound; think bold, savory Indian flavors, and the décor follows suit with a colorful wall of small wooden painted tribal masks from across the globe — Bali, Japan, Java, Nepal, North Africa and beyond. Some are from chef’s private collection and each has a special meaning in its respective culture.

Menu selections are entirely gluten-free, and about 80 percent is vegan before protein (housemade chickpea-turmeric tofu, chicken, beef or pork are available for $2), thus accommodating meat-free and dairy-free diners. Because the menu has the ability to feed everyone, it alienates no one.

Diving right in, I eyed the zucchini fritters ($7) with a creamy vegan basil mayo dipping sauce. The evenly shredded fresh zucchini threads are breaded and fried to order. With four pieces, they’re easy to nosh on or share before your main dish is ready. Same goes for the fried orb-shaped vegetable samosas ($8) served with a thick, sweet yellow-hued chutney.

The banh mi spring rolls ($8), available with pork or tofu, were stuffed with an assortment of remarkably fresh vegetables and noodles. Served with vegan kewpie (akin to a creamy mayonnaise), they were on the pricy side for two but worth the splurge. We preferred them to the crab balls ($10) and ginger-basil chicken wings ($10), which were greasy.

Eager to chow down, I ordered several rice and noodle dishes. The leader of the pack was crispy cod with green curry ($13) atop fluffy jasmine rice crowned with fresh cilantro sprigs and addictive crispy shallots. The scallion-topped wild ginger and mushroom noodle dish ($12) is another ace. I added Foo Dog’s homemade soy-free turmeric-garbanzo tofu ($2) for protein and enjoyed its texture and crisp exterior. At $14 I wish the portion, specifically the rice noodles, was a bit larger. Tasty flavors were there; leftovers were not.

Runner up was the hearty, saucy, slightly spicy chickpea and spinach masala ($13 sans protein) topped with the aforementioned shallot and cilantro accoutrements. I loved the textural difference between the creamy chickpeas, silky curry, crunchy shallots and pliable rice.

Don’t miss the self-serve area where fiery sriracha, homemade kimchi paste, garlic chili sauce and gluten-free tamari are available for enhancing your menu items.

Unique canned beverages run the gamut. I tried the soursop drink ($1.50). Its flavor was a mix between strawberry and pineapple, with a hint of creaminess and sour citrus, proving to be a suitable accompaniment to my various curries.

Foo Dog’s only downside? Besides limited seating (no large groups here), there aren’t any desserts yet — but they’re in the works.

Caron Streibich is an avid food-lover who will review restaurants every other week in the Dining section. Follow her dining adventures at facebook.com/caroneats and #caroneats on Instagram.