Restaurant Review #52: Hurry Curry of Tokyo, Sawtelle, West LA

I thought this place was supposed to be really good. And it smelled good. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed.

I went on a Saturday evening around 6:00 and only about a fourth of the tables were occupied. It's a casual place, with a nice black tile floor and light wood tables and chairs, but not nice enough to take a date.

Loungey deep house grooves
emanated from the stereo, which turned what would have been a mediocre to poor eating experience into an acceptable to average one, and gave the place significantly more atmosphere. I went alone, and didn't feel awkward about it--not that I ever really do, but I imagine at some trendy spots I might. The waitress/hostess was friendly and asked about the book I was reading.

The service definitely lives up to the restaurant's name: it was extremely fast, probably in part because I ordered what was touted on the menu as the most popular dish--a breaded chicken cutlet with curry sauce. I ordered my dish medium spicy, and got the white girl special as usual--not spicy at all. I'm from Texas, yo, home of three alarm chili cookoffs. I can handle the heat!!! (I quit eating chili around age 10, but that's not the point.)

I wasn't very impressed with my food. I ordered a lychee saketini, which was too sweet and made with not very good sake. However, it was only $4, which made me happy. I thought my eyes were deceiving me. Where in LA can you get a drink for $4??? My chicken was okay. It kind of tasted like dead bird (maybe all chicken does and I'm just now starting to notice it, or maybe this is just a characteristic of lower quality meat, which is the theory I'm going with). It was pounded flat white meat, and the breading was a perfectly cooked crispy brown. The curry sauce, like I said, was not very spicy, and not terribly flavorful--I could really taste the turmeric. The dish ended up tasting a lot like a Japanese version of chicken fried steak. Which was actually kind of nice, since I've been craving chicken fried steak for a while now, but wasn't what I was expecting at all. The side portion of rice was generous, and included with the entree (miraculously) but it seemed gooey and overcooked to me. I realize that this was sticky rice, but it still seemed overcooked, which is just wrong since I'm sure they used a rice cooker. I don't like rice much though in general, so take my opinion on it with a grain of. . . salt. A very small side salad (the size of a miso soup cup) came with my meal. It consisted of iceberg lettuce and shredded carrot. The miso soy house dressing was excellent, and oddly enough the iceberg lettuce seemed to make sense in this salad.

Bonus: Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 they have a (very early) happy hour with $2 saketinis, $2 beers and $2 appetizers. I would almost certainly go back for that, because that could easily be a cheap dinner for my small appetite. The appetizers (and there are only 5) are typical bar food: fried calamari, fried chicken, fried shrimp, croquettes, and edamame (which is not typical bar food, as least, not in the west). I have no great desire to return for another meal, but I might give them another shot with a different dish which I will order "hot." Maybe I'll be adventurous and try some Japanese spaghetti, which they have a whole list of, though it sounds incredibly unappetizing to me. Given that this is basically supposed to be fast food, it was quite good, but it's not priced like fast food: one drink and one entree were $16 including tax and tip. I could have had a fabulous Indian or Ethiopian feast for that kind of money. With lots of leftovers. You won't have leftovers here, unless you are a very light eater, like me.

The restaurant is owned by Enterprise Fish Company (which I have never eaten at), but fish does not feature heavily on Hurry Curry's menu. There are several vegetarian options. I am not sure if the curry sauce is vegetarian, and it seemed like it might (maybe) have animal stock or lard in it--ask if you're concerned.

Hurry Curry of Tokyo
2131 Sawtelle Blvd.
West Los Angeles 90025
Phone: 310-473-1640
Fax: 310-473-7933
Delivery: 310-441-2483

Alternate (new) location:
37 S. Fair Oaks Ave.
Pasadena, Ca 91105
Phone: 626-792-8474
Fax: 626-792-8481
Delivery: 626.792.8474


Anonymous said...

i think this place is totally over rated, and the portions are small. last time i got shrimp curry, and there were literally 3 shrimp swimming in a pool of over-powering curry. and the atmosphere is frantic. for a real curry experience, all you have to do is walk accross the street to the mini-strip mall, walk up to the 2nd floor, and you will find a REAL Japanese curry house.

joanh said...

it used to be a lot better in terms of taste and portions before they were sold to the new owner a few years back....