Sunday, September 19, 2010

Take Me Out to Go! Go! Curry!

Sports fans are among the craziest in the world of fanaticism, and the Japanese curry restaurant chain Go! Go! Curry! stands as an example of an extreme devotion to one baseball player, "Godzilla" Hikdeki Matsui. Owner Hirokazu Miyamori, an ardent Matsui aficionado, has reportedly traveled great distances to hold up signs that say “Go Go Matsui!” at Yankees games. Besides a word of encouragement, "go" also means "five" in Japanese, and Matsui's jersey number is 55, which explains the restaurant's name. The number five is everywhere; the store's hours are from 9:55 AM to 10:55 PM, its phone number ends in 5555, discounts are given on days ending in five, and it even opened for business on the fifth day of the fifth month. The three exclamation marks in its name says it all about this place; it bounces with a hyper go-getting attitude of a cheering fan, quite unlike the elegant Curry-Ya, another JapanTown vendor that we reviewed previously. Go! Go! Curry! is also big on competition and sports, hosting annual curry-eating contests.

Inside this small curry joint in Midtown, you'll find all sorts of Matsui memorabilia, newspaper clippings, autographs, and photos. The menu continues the baseball theme, with the order sizes ranging from a "walk," or small, to XL. On a bed of rice, you get a choice of plain curry ("original") or deep-fried protein such as katsu, chicken, shrimp, and sausage ($5.00 - $9.50). These choices come with a generous ladleful of Go! Go! Curry!'s signature rich, hearty, sludgey dark brown sauce. To customize your dish, extra helpings of these meats and an array of Japanese toppings like natto and fukujinzuki are also offered. (Here's a tip: the day after Matsui hits a home run, you get a free topping coupon.) Katsu, or pork cutlet, is the most recommended, but if you can't choose, there's the "Grand Slam," the glorious combination of all the above-mentioned meats.

The Grand Slam ($12.50) can feed almost three people, and if shared with someone else, it would actually be a reasonable lunch deal. We got the Grand Slam to go and our order was so huge that the container needed a rubber band to prevent it from bursting. This dish has three layers: on the top are the crispy panko-crusted katsu and chicken, two sausages, one jumbo shrimp with some mayo, one halved egg, and some shredded cabbage. Sandwiched between the meats and rice the size of a pitcher's mound is the curry, which tastes sweet, meaty and only slightly spicy. The addictive flavor reminded me of katsu sauce. I thought the chicken was a bit on the dry side and that there should be more curry for the rice, but that could be remedied by asking for extra curry ($1.50). As starving as we were and as yummy as it was, my eating companion and I were both full before we could finish the Grand Slam!

The Grand Slam:

Some shots of the restuarant:

Go! Go! Curry! has created a new dish especially for the JapanTown festivals called the Curry Dog, which has either katsu, chicken, or sausage with a helping of curry inside a hot dog bun. These are easier to eat while walking around than a bowl of curry rice. Your last chance to try these delicious Curry Dogs will be at the JapanTown Soul Food Festival on September 26th!

Curry Dogs:

Go! Go! Curry! booth at a JapanTown festival:

Among all the pricey deli food and tourist traps around 42nd Street, Go! Go! Curry! offers a more authentic as well as comparably cheaper alternative. The curries are not the most attractive meal and the shop's not fancy (ie. not a date place), but it's definitely the place in Midtown to go to get your comfort food fix.

Go! Go! Curry!
273 West 38th Street
New York, NY 10018
(between 7th and 8th Avenues)