March 1, 2024

Hexenbelle’s Coconut Curry Fried Rice

Tastemaker
By Lynda Wheatley | Aug. 7, 2021

You might not think it’s possible for fried rice to make an entire, or even filling, meal. You might not be familiar with fried rice that is actually, delightfully fried. But if you sat down to a plate of Coconut Curry Fried Rice from Hexenbelle in Traverse City, you’d know better. Inside the blush-pink womb-like space, head chef Christian Geoghegan draws upon their Palestinian descent and other global influences to craft a kind of comfort food we find consistently innovative, irresistible, and not only filling but fulfilling. Geoghegan’s Coconut Curry Fried Rice ($15) is one we go back to again and again.

Its rich curry hits a warming and refreshing balance of mild heat and coconut sweet — a revelation for coconut curry connoisseurs who’ve too often been burnt by an inferno-excess of spice or, worse, a curry that seems built on base of Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen. The subtlety lifts its garlic flavor to the forefront of the curry, making for a trifecta of flavor so dense and a sauce so thick it brings to mind a simmered-all-day stew.

Nowhere is the texture better, however, than with the rice itself. The humble grain isn’t faux fried with a drenching of soy sauce and a few turns in a pan; it’s browned and crisped and chewy here, light and fluffy there, with tender chunks of glistening, crackle-edged onions — all indication that at Geoghegan’s stovetop, care and patience reign. That, of course, might be the one drawback for those hoping to grab lunch in a rush: Hexenbelle’s kitchen is tiny, and its food is in high demand, with wait times on food exceeding 30 minutes midday.

The eatery’s suggestion: Order online early for a scheduled pickup later in the day. Ours: If you’ve got the time, place your food order and take your wait in a seat on the outdoor patio while savoring the genius of Hexenbelle’s coffee maestro and co-owner, Heather Webber, with a cup of Damascus Gate ($5+) — a milky blend of rose, black cardamom, clove, and saffron.

Find Hexenbelle in Traverse City’s Warehouse District, 144 Hall St., suite 107.  See the menu and order at hexenbelle.square.site

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