My first experience with Japanese curry was in Hawaii. It was a curry noodle soup of some kind at a little place that only opened for lunch and early dinner. It was the first time I had curry outside of Jamaican food. It was pretty awesome. Since then, I’ve taken Japanese curry wherever and in whatever form I can get it into my eager chew hole.
When Go! Go! Curry! first opened, it was mobbed at lunchtime. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was lining up down the block to get a taste. That was a few years ago (four, I think). It’s not as packed, and like so many new places in Midtown New York, it is not as buzz-worthy as it was on opening. Thankfully, their quality has not declined and their prices have not gone through the roof.
A little background: As I understand it, the Japanese word for “5” sounds something like “go”. The name of the restaurant is in homage to Hideki Matsui. Supposedly, the chain is popular in Japan, and when Matsui signed with a certain baseball team in the Bronx, they came across the waters as well. There isn’t as much Matsui gear on the wall as when they opened. If I remember correctly, they used to run promotions based on his homeruns. Enough baseball. On to the curry.
All the dishes are based on rice topped with curry. You can even get plain white rice with curry. If you want a meat item, your choices are chicken cutlet, pork cutlet (katsu), shrimp, egg, sausage, or a combination of the above. There is a Grand Slam dish that incorporates most, if not every possible topping on one plate. I imagine that ordering is reserved for the incredibly famished or the most adventurous of eaters.
Many people opt for the katsu, but MG and I go for the chicken ($7.50 for medium). I’ve had the pork, and it just didn’t work for me, the chicken was just better all around. The cutlet is tender and tasty, perfectly fried, and I think it compliments the rest of the dish better than the katsu. I think the pork tries to vie for your attention and takes away from the savory curry.
Boy oh boy is the curry savory. It is wonderful. Thick, rich, deep brown in color, short on spicy but long on flavor, it is a fabulous dish. The white rice is expertly cooked as well, plump and slightly sticky. The chicken, rice, and curry meld in a truly magical way. Some raw cabbage is tossed on the side, and while nice, I don’t enjoy it as much as I did years ago. I’ll chalk that up to changing tastes. It wasn’t offensive, but it didn’t seem necessary.
The restaurant is very informal, and very lunchroom like in the plastic chairs and small tables. However, I love the fact that you receive a real fork to eat your meal with, out of a metal plate no less. Big thumbs up! It may seem like a little thing, but fighting with a plastic knife and fork, and taking pains not to cut through a Styrofoam plate would spoil my dining experience.
If you like curry at all, drop into Go! Go! Curry!. They have opened a new location in lower Manhattan. If it is anything like their Midtown offering, they should do gangbuster business.
Go! Go! Curry!
273 West 38th Street
New York, NY 10018