When I went to Japan in 2008, I can honestly say I never had a bad meal (even the times where I ended up ordering a teriyaki burger from McDonald’s). The first thing I ate when I got off the plane was a Curry Udon soup, which was absolutely amazing, and was followed the next day by my first experience with Tonkatsu, a fried pork cutlet. Japanese comfort food at its simplest.
“Go! Go! Curry!”, located near the NYU dorms by Washington Square Park, brings authentic Japanese curry and yummy fried goodness is one tiny storefront. The restaurant is named in honor of NY Yankees baseball player, Hideki Matsui, whose number is 55. In Japanese, with their love of wordplay, Matsui’s first name means “Go! Go!”, so why not go curry! With a baseball theme for their menu and enough room to seat roughly a dozen or so people in the place, the freshly fried fare is served with a heap of curry sauce and white rice. It’s a lot of fun, and a lot of flavor.
The menu breaks things up by protein, although you can just have a nice plate of thick curry sauce and rice. You can choose from Chicken Katsu, Pork Katsu, fried shrimp, or sausages, with the option in sizes listed as a walk, a single, double, or triple. There are also combo platters, which is where I went to get a taste of everything. Perhaps that might have been my undoing…
The Grand Slam platter ($12.50) gives you a pair of sausages, one pork katsu, one chicken katsu, a single piece of shrimp, a hardboiled egg, some thin sliced cabbage to garnish and lighten the meal up, and enough rice and curry sauce to drown someone in. There was a smaller Home Run plate for $9.50, or the enormous World Champion Curry for $25. I will say that most average-sized eaters will have their hands full with the Home Run, and (spoiler alert) I had plenty of leftovers with my Grand Slam.
The fried shrimp is prepared in the traditional tempura method, with your shrimp being straightened out in that oh-so-Japanese style that I enjoy. Served with a glob of tartar sauce, the golden friend seafood was cooked perfectly, tender on the inside and crisp on the outside.
A pair of small sausages, fried to the point that the innards pop to escape the heat, were snappy and delicious. I am not a hot dog person in most cases, but these sausages were not your average NYC dirty water dogs. A thin case and premium tasting meat, the texture from being deep fried is what makes them really stand out. The egg is a hardboiled egg, and adds more girth to your waistline in case you were not filled up enough with the poundage of meats on top of your rice.
The chicken katsu and pork katsu are difficult to separate from the image above, but you can tell the difference when you check the slices, as well as their distinct taste. I was worried that deep frying them would make them indistinguishable, but thankfully they keep their flavors. If anything, the cooking process made them juicy and moist as well.
Hiding underneath all of those things was the mountain of sticky rice and dark curry sauce. Unlike an Indian curry, Japanese curry is mild and not really spicy at all. This curry is all about the potent flavor of the curry, and reminded me of my visit to Japan. My wave of nostalgia aside, this gargantuan meal (which was really meant for two people and not one fat-ass like me) was a delicious medley of flavors that, in spite of being deep fried, tasted like individual pieces working together for one complete plate.
I really enjoyed “Go! Go! Curry!” and highly recommend it. I loved the curry sauce and I loved the tonkatsu, just prepare to be hit with a strong, fatty food coma after ingesting this. The tiny restaurant itself reminded me of a no-nonsense pizzeria, with limited seating, and a TV above the drink refrigerator playing Japanese TV snippets about baseball and, of course, curry. Everything about the food and the experience feels Japanese, and any time that food can transport you to another part of the world is a clear success. “Go! Go! Curry!” is deep-fried international comfort food, and it’s about as authentic as you can get without taking a 14-hour flight overseas.
“Go! Go! Curry!” has four locations in New York City, but I went to the Washington Square Park location on 231 Thompson Street (W. 3rd & Bleecker St.), and is open seven days a week from 11 AM to 10 PM.