Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cool Curry for a Hot Night in NYC

Curry-Ya's Japanese Beef Classic with Mini Pork Cutlet

A curry restaurant seems to be a counter-intuitive choice in the middle of this record-breaking heat wave. But the JapanTown team heard so many positive recommendations for the Japanese gourmet curry at Curry-Ya that we went anyway, and we didn't regret it even though the curry raised our internal temperatures by several degrees.

Curry-Ya could as easily be maintained by hobbits since the entire restaurant is the size of a large closet. The kitchen is also the dining room; a narrow marble bar delineates the cooking and eating spaces. The four staff members, sandwiched between the bar (which seats 15) and an entire streamlined wall of stainless steel refrigerators, stove-tops and shelves without room for one person to squeeze past another, work with the efficiency of a well-practiced dance troupe. Each chef pursues his or her own task and seemingly communicates through telepathy, united as choreographed performers to complete your meal. At some points as I was watching my meal being cooked, I felt that it was almost an interactive show because while you can observe them, you can even reach over from your seat at the bar to help them stir the curry since it's so tiny. State-of-the-art, compact appliances play a role in their well-oiled machine. Everything is kept shiny and clean as if brand new; in fact, even the bathroom is a high-tech experience packed into a tiny airplane-sized stall.

We ordered the Japanese Beef Classic and the Berkshire Pork Cutlet. The food arrived in a neat order: a white plate of rounded rice, gently garnished with green beans and a small cast iron pot of the sizzling curry. The Berkshire Pork Cutlet was a slice of lean, tender meat that oozes a few drops of juice when impaled with a fork. It came lightly fried, delivering a crispy entrance on the first bite and finishing with a soft, chewy flow of pork flavor. The ingredients of the Beef Classic swam inside the curry, absorbing the creamy and slightly sweet curry flavor and exploding with savory spice with each bite. The curry itself comes in three different ranks of spiciness. We ordered the middle one, which wasn't five-alarm spicy. A tip for those who aren't inclined to spicy foods, it's a curry that blends together as a delicious sauce that burns your tongue with its memory, without scarring you for life. Poured on top of the rice, the curry made each mouthful a satiable experience that ingratiates your taste glands in an orgy of spice and flavor.

Curry-Ya is the perfect restaurant to go on a dinner date. It's intimate, quiet, nifty and beautiful, and if you run out of conversation topics, you can always marvel at the meals being prepared. Happy hour is the ideal time to go, as the drinks are half off and there is nothing better than a cold beer to chase down the spicy curry.

If you love spicy foods, or are simply looking for a cozy spot, I highly recommend Curry-Ya. They will also be at the JapanTown Cool Japan Festival with a booth, so come check out their awesome curry!

Berkshire Pork Cutlet

Japanese Classic


$2 Sapporo during Happy Hour

214 East 10th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenue
New York, New York 10003


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