When the weather gets nippy, a dish of soupy Japanese curry with pearls of plump white rice warms me up perfectly. This year, I’ve taken it upon myself to patronize as many curry restaurants as I can find in my quest for curry bliss. This edition of Curry Me Happy brings two home-style Japanese restaurants head to head in a straight-up curry showdown.
When I eat curry in a restaurant, Curry House curry is usually my yardstick, since I can usually make curry out of their instant curry blocks with consistently good results. Of course, I’ve also frequented Curry House’s restaurant, which is also pretty freaking awesome. The two places I tried this time both serve up something special that you can’t get from a box–the homemade touch they give their food definitely adds to the experience.
Kuku Omurice and Chicken steak.
I decided to spend last Friday taking advantage of all the sales at Aeon Mall, mainly to buy presents for my family. After a bit of shopping I decided to hit the food court, but after being stalked by a group of my curious 9th grade boys; I abandoned the food court idea and decided to go to the restaurant area. After much debate with Luciables who helped me narrow it down to steak or omurice.
I decided on the omurice restaurant Rakeru. The restaurant had a country French motif. Or at least with Japan’s fascination with Disney what Belle’s restaurant would look like if she ever opened one.
Starting from the top clockwise is the bread, fresh baked and amazing with french butter. At first glance I was expecting the bread to be hearty with a thick chewy crust, but as soon as I picked it up the opposite was true. The bread was super fluffy and soft like the stuff dreams are made out of. I don’t have much to say about the french butter other than, I guess french butter has no salt.
Next is the green salad. This was probably the weakest part of the meal. It was as if the restaurant just used bagged salad bought a few stores down at the super market and they merely showered it with the crappy dressing that was on sale that week.
The potato is next. After getting my meal a few things became very apparent about the potato; first I might be a spoiled American expecting, salt, pepper, butter, sour cream, chives, bacon bits and the like, for my potato. Second this is just how it’s served in France…unlikely. Third the Japanese have no idea how to properly serve a baked potato. I was given just a plain hot potato, I was seriously confused for a few minutes and even considered the fact that I may be on some strange Japanese TV show messing with foreigners in restaurants. As I looked at the other patrons plates I noticed they were just eating the potato plain. There’s nothing more to be said about the potato other than give me condiments bitches.
Chicken steak. I was actually more excited about the chicken steak than I was about the omurice. Let’s get the bad news over with first. I don’t know what it is about Japan and liking dark meat and the fatty parts of meat, but I’d have to say there was more fat and tendon in the chicken steak, than actual chicken. During and after I had to wipe my mouth repeatedly because it was just covered in oil. I’m sure at one point my lips were so greasy it probably looked as though my lip gloss was poppin’ and I was expecting women in the restaurant to ask me which brand of lip gloss I use to get my lips looking that way. To which my answer would be, just order the chicken steak. Now the good news It was perfectly cooked and just had a hint of seasoning to bring the chicken flavor out. The gravy on the chicken was also delicious.
Omurice. I was expecting the traditional omurice with chicken rice and ketchup inside, but this restaurant threw me a curve ball. This omurice was stuffed with an amazing chicken fried rice. It was as though they took all the good parts of the chicken steak and fried that with rice. The gravy was also amazing it complimented the flavors of rice stuffing in the omelet.
I’d have to say overall I was pleased with the food. I will surely go again, but I will not order the chicken steak or salad. I will stick to omurice only of which there is a huge variety.
Oh my god wow. The burgers at Burgermeister are fucking amazing.
I got the Burgermeister burger, which comes with sauteed onions and mushrooms, cheese, bacon and avocado. For some reason, my hungover self decided I needed the half pound patty…which probably was my BEST IDEA EVER. Hungover self, I commend you, and I should follow your advice more often.
jan jon here with his cheat meal of the week. Tonight I visited a famous bakery and cafe here in Ota, Japan. (太田). I went for a Japanese lesson which turned into a 2hr English lesson instead, nothing like getting hustled by a 90lb Japanese girl trying to talk to you about Glee. I ordered the Seafood and Mushroom Curry, I was shocked that a place that is famous for being a French style bakery even served this. I prefer the bad news first so here it goes. The curry wasn’t spicy enough for my taste and the mushrooms were cut a bit too large, to eat easily with a spoon. Now the good news, everything else was amazingly cooked and the flavors balanced well. I was more than happy with the variety of seafood in the curry: which was squid, scallops, and shrimp. The fried onions on top of the rice were a nice touch and gave the curry rice mixture some added texture and an extra flavor kick. As I was explaining my theory about people who like beer and eating sweets, a big plate of dessert came our way. In our confusion, the waiter explained that the dessert came complimentary with our meals. Neither of us being a big fan of dessert we merely tasted a bit of each before playing with it. Not pictured is the orange, chestnut, and green tea ice cream sandwich I made; as well as my reaction to eating a candied chestnut.
I’ve been to various Denny’s diners all up and down the California coast. Whether I’m in LA or SF, Denny’s is kind of my go to place. It’s convenient, and you generally know exactly what you’re gonna get when you walk into the door. Denny’s is also my default diner simply because California seems to be lacking in the 24-hour dine-in restaurant department, and because anytime is pancake time.
I think it’s a widely accepted fact that Denny’s service is shit. It takes forever to get seated, and it usually takes even longer to wave down a server who will take your order. By the time your food comes you don’t even care how it tastes anymore because you’re so fucking hungry (drunk) that you’re just glad you finally have food in front of you. Having said all of that, I think you’ll understand how astonished I was when I found myself saying these words: “Wow, this Denny’s has good service!”
From the remnants of my plate of food, can you guess what I ate for dinner today? As you can probably assume from the photo, I struck again and cleaned my plate as best I could (the bits left there were somewhat inedible).
Tonight, I had an awesome meal with a more or less equally awesome dinner partner. 😀 The weather was gloomy again, much like it was yesterday, and instead of going home to take care of myself, I decided I needed to go out and have an awesome restaurant take care of me. Balompie Cafe (er, awesome name) fit the bill perfectly.
Just to end the food mystery I’ve got going on, the image above is of fried yuca! There were these fibrous portions running through some of the yucca nuggets, and when I accidentally bit on one, it felt like I was biting into a bone or a toothpick. So, I pulled them out.
This is what the plate of food looked like before I decimated it:
The pupusa was gooey with tangy queso fresco and beans, and the acidic tomato salsa and fragrant pickled cabbage on top definitely completed the full flavor and texture party. The other awesome thing on this plate was the yuca. You have the option of getting your yuca steamed or fried–I asked the waitress what she preferred, and she recommended fried hands down. The yuca pieces were fluffy and soft, and fried up so perfectly golden and cute that I just wanted to sink my teeth into their velvety insides. (I get the same urge when I see a Corgi…cuz…you know…Corgis are just that cute. Is that odd?) The texture of yuca is so fine that when you fry it, it crisps up with the same type of lightness you would expect from expertly prepared tempura. Yuca, you are my new potato.
Like I mentioned before, the company I had tonight was also great. There’s really nothing like good food paired with good conversation. It’s not often that you can get both in the same go, but when you do, bask in the moment and enjoy every second of it. So, here’s to cleaning your plate, and savoring every little bit as you go along.