One of the great things about my relationship with Mr. Los Angeles is that we introduced each other to new cuisines. He was never a fan of vegetables, so one day I took a bunch of steamed broccoli and covered it with Pasta Roni White Shells and Cheddar. After taking a few bites and noticing something green in his dinner, he gave me an, “I’ve caught you red-handed,” face but he gave it a try. And he ended up loving it. Now he eats salad and all sorts of vegetables. VICTORY!
But that food education goes both ways, and he introduced me to sushi and curries. I took to sushi pretty well but the curry took me a while. Anything spicy was an immediate veto. But one day we went to our favorite Japanese grocery/food court and he got udon in a brown curry sauce. The smell! The consistency! I was hooked! It was only brown curry served over rice with some tissue thin beef and some sauteed onions, but that’s all I needed to become a Japanese curry addict. Even though I hit up the same place for Ramen, I almost always get the curry. Best part: I add a very runny egg on top and the whole meal ends up being $5 and change.
So on days like today when Los Angeles is gloomy, I get the curry itch. And for that price, it’s an itch I can afford to scratch.
There are two ways you can go about scratching: make it yourself or find a Japanese curry joint. There are many tutorials and recipes out there, but I particularly like this one from Adam Kuban. I think I just like his writing, but he does point out that the Japanese received curry by way of the British rather than directly from India. Also, it is not eaten with chopsticks. I’ve seen quite a few “daikon” try eating this gravy covered rice with chopsticks (including myself) and it’s pretty hilarious. The spoon is your friend on this dish. His recipe also includes adding carrots and potatoes, but I prefer a healthy amount of onions.
The curry comes in a tray of cubes, much like bouillon cubes but larger. It’s pretty much a “just add water” process. I like to add a little mirin to give it some additional flavor, or substitute beef stock for the water. Add some beef and onions and you have yourself a hearty dinner! As I said previously, I used to veto anything spicy, but the mild is so mild you’ll really want to upgrade to medium or hot. Coming from someone who still shuns medium salsa, it’s saying a lot.
So if you don’t have a Japanese grocer near you or just don’t want to undertake the challenge, there are plenty of places you can find this dish in Los Angeles.
My favorite place is inside Mitsuwa on Centinela and Venice, about a mile south of the Santa Monica Airport. It’s called Sanuki Sandou and for a long time their main dish was soba and udon noodle soups. Everyone goes to this food court for the Ramen at Santouka and it happens to be one of the best in the city, even after all these new ramen joints have popped up. But I recommend giving the curry a chance. I really like it when they add a runny egg on top and I always request it, but you can of course skip it if you’re squeamish about undercooked egg. Right next to Sanuki Sandou is Misasa and I noticed they started doing chicken Katsu (breaded chicken with curry and rice) but I really like my beef curry.
If you’re wanting more choices, here are my top recommendations around Los Angeles:Curry House of Little Tokyo: 123 S Onizuka St. Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 620-0855 (Link to Yelp) Masacasa: 1757 Colorado Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90041 (323) 254-2000 (Link to Yelp) Hurry Curry of Tokyo: 2131 Sawtelle Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90025 (310) 473-1640 (Link to Yelp) Curry House CoCo Ichibanya: 12007 Wilshire Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90025 (310) 479-1333 (Link to Yelp)