Curry isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Japanese food, but yeah, they love it here. And if a hole-in-the-wall joint called Kitchen Nankai is any indication, that love is very much justified. Like pretty much all of the food I’ve had in Tokyo, it’s good.
There isn’t a single word of English to be found anywhere in the restaurant, but — as is fairly common in Japan — they have plastic replicas of their dishes in a display out front. This is a godsend for clueless travelers such as myself; the grizzled older lady who runs the place followed me outside, I pointed, and that was that (in retrospect, I probably could have just said “katsu curry” and saved her a trip outside. Oh well).
The place specializes in katsu curry, which is a deep-fried chicken cutlet and a side of rice that’s been slathered in a tasty curry sauce.
That curry was bonkers. It was so good. I’ve never had anything quite like it — it had a really rich, beefy flavour, and tasted more like a long-simmered chili or a stew than like any curry I’ve had before. It was also spicy enough to get some sweat going, but not so spicy as to distract from the flavour.
The chicken katsu was the perfect vehicle for the curry; it was perfectly tender, and crispy enough to stand up to the deluge of sauce. It would have been delicious on its own, but with that curry it was out of this world.