Summer is right around the corner, and food truck season is in full swing. Newer to the round of local food trucks is Nu Deli, which boasts some delicious deli-style eats with an Indian twist.
Southfield native Matt Daniels can be spotted cruising around in his vibrant orange truck from May through October in Metro Detroit.
While he often watched his mother, Ruth, whipping up delicacies in the kitchen during his younger years, a food-related career was not his initial plan.
After graduating from Harvard, Daniels jetted across the globe to start his own graphic design firm in Mumbai, where he also trained students without computer skills in graphic design work.
On the side, he began delving into the food world in Mumbai. He dabbled in food writing and cooking, lending a hand to a pop-up dinner program called the Secret Supper Project.
Soon after meeting his significant other and fellow foodie, Meghana Shrivastava, the two decided to open their own restaurant, known as Verandah. This quaint eatery sits along the northern beaches of Goa, attracting tourists from far and wide.
Soon after Verandah took off, Daniels and Shrivastava found themselves smitten with their newfound roles as restaurateurs.
Since the tourist season in Goa is short-lived, the couple decided to extend their food careers year-round. They packed their bags last April and headed to Detroit, eager to take on a brand-new project — creating the Nu Deli food truck.
After months of brainstorming with Daniels’ parents, Ruth and Larry, they approached the organizers at Hebrew Free Loan about their new business endeavor. They were granted a small business loan to help make Nu Deli a reality and hit the ground running in July 2016.
Last season, Nu Deli was spotted at numerous events in town, including the Dream Cruise, the Detroit Jazz Festival and Hazon’s first annual Michigan Jewish Food Festival.
“We just got our feet wet last year, and we were really lucky despite there being a lot of trucks on the road,” Daniels says.
Nu Deli captivates crowds with its creative menu, featuring funky hybrids of deli-style sandwiches with fresh Indian seasonings.
Growing up, Daniels associated Jewish food with deli-style eats. “Aside from holiday-specific food, deli trays were basically how occasions were celebrated in my family. Even during my seven-year stint as a vegetarian, I’d sneak the occasional Reuben.”
With a desire to base the menu off of deli favorites from his childhood, Daniels simultaneously adds his favorite elements of Indian cuisine.
The fresh slaw he whips up, known as koshimbir, features hints of curry leaf and green chili. In Goa, koshimbir is a huge staple, served alongside their most popular dish — fish curry and rice.
The zesty slaw can be found in many Nu Deli features, like the “Nu Reuben,” which strongly contributed to the truck’s growing popularity. The hefty sandwich is served with either thinly sliced Sy Ginsberg corned beef or turkey, melted swiss cheese, the famous slaw and chili mayo. Dollops of tandoori butter coat the toasted rye bread, adding a powerhouse of flavor with each bite.
For morning visitors at Nu Deli, the “Nu Lox” is a Jewish-inspired favorite with a few unique tweaks. While the smoked salmon and bagel are standard, the Masala-flavored cream cheese is unlike any “shmear” out there. Topped with koshimbir and served with Daniels’ homemade pickles, there’s no better breakfast. A cup of homemade hot or iced chai makes a perfect sidekick to any meal.
The Nu Deli menu also caters to vegetarian and vegan palates. Some of the best veggie items are the “Veg Tikka,” a ciabatta sandwich filled with tandoori-roasted veggies, or the “Nu Egg,” featuring egg salad with sprinklings of curry leaf and green chili on Masala challah bread.
While you can catch Nu Deli at various food truck hubs like Campus Martius and Eastern Market, the group is also accustomed to catering private parties.
Daniels strongly credits his parents for contributing to Nu Deli’s success. Ruth, in particular, has always enjoyed cooking and almost never misses a Nu Deli event. His father, Larry, is his right-hand man, always volunteering to run out for last-minute ingredients and entertain customers when lines grow long.
The tight-knit Nu Deli family isn’t afraid to push boundaries, setting themselves apart from the other food trucks in the area.
“I hope by creating new contrasts we can help folks appreciate what’s great about both of the cuisines we borrow from,” Daniels says.
With tireless energy and mounds of passion for what they do, the New Deli food truck crew is driving full-speed ahead this season!
Upcoming Nu Deli Events
- New Tuesday Market at Eastern Market, throughout June
- Hazon’s Michigan Jewish Food Festival at Eastern Market, Aug. 27
Call to plan a catered event: (248) 885-0348