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Finally, the danger to wallet and waist size expands down the coast to our fair city. Eater had reported in late February that an opening was planned for late April or early May. According to their Twitter feed, the Boston location opened in early May, but no updates have mentioned DC since their preview at the annual Sakura Matsuri festival. Can anybody around Georgetown glean an update for us?
Lunch here last Saturday... The wife and I split the Tokyo shoyu and a cold ramen with a lemon/shio broth and poached shrimp. Top notch bowls of ramen. The broth on the shoyu was nicely porky, but not overly so. I think broth-wise, I may prefer Daikaya by a hair, but it would be close. Ivan really shines when it comes to noodles, though. The skinny, rye noodles in both bowls really took the noodle game to a whole new level. Wonderfully chewy in both hot and cold versions. The cold ramen was super-refreshing. Compared favorably to the cold citrus tsukemen I had the other day at Toki in DC. The broth at Ivan was a bit subtler, with less of a heavy citrus presence. Thinking on it now, I might have loved it even more if it came as tsukemen rather than a bowl of soup. Strangely enough, the real showstopper was the appetizer of shredded daikon radish topped with XO sauce. I could have eaten 4 more plates of that. The daikon was lightly pickled...the acidity of the pickle paired with the funk of the dried seafood in the XO sauce was fantastic, as was the interplay of 2 levels of crunch (daikon vs. dried shrimp/scallop). There are a ton of great ramen options available to you in NYC, but the rye noodles alone make Ivan worth a stop if you're in town.
For those who don't know, Kanazawa style curry is a distinct style of Japanese curry, named for the city in Ishikawa prefecture. It is defined by its rich brown sauce, so thick you can eat it with a fork. Kanazawa style curry is often served in Japanese school cafeterias, where the students lap up the flavorful roux and crispy pork katsu with religious fervor. Its defining characteristics are: Thick and gooey sauce, made with things like caramel Shredded cabbage served on the side Served in a stainless steel bowl Eaten with a fork or spork Pork cutlet placed on top of curry, tonkatsu sauce on top of cutlet Sauce covers the entirety of the white rice below, so that it cannot be seen Go! Go! Curry! is a Japanese chain specializing in the Kanazawa style and they have three locations in NYC. I love this curry in the same way a heroin addict loves shooting up. The only difference is heroin addiction can be cured. It carries a hint of spice but is mostly sweet and savory. Each bite has a rich and creamy flavor that, to the dish's biggest fans, are like little doses cocaine straight into the central nervous system. The rice is perfectly sticky, the breading of the katsu has a crunch that can be heard from across the world. I am a Japanese curry addict and everywhere I travel, there are two things I immediately look up: Where can I get a good NY slice and where can I get some Japanese curry? For the latter, Go! Go! Curry! is my only option and I wish there was a store every two feet across the entire globe. Other Japanese curry houses in America serve up painful imitations. Watery. Flavorless. Katsu whose breading is soggy. Cold, brown sludge. Inside, the store walls are covered with newspaper articles and scrawled messages from Kanazawa natives. But the first thing you notice are the posters of Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui. "Go Go" in Japanese means 55, which is the number that Matsui wore when he played for the Yomiuri Giants. He later signed on with the NY Yankees. Used to be that, before he retired, on any day Matsui hit a homerun, the restaurant would shave 55 cents off the price of the menu items for that day. On the 5th, 15th, and 25th of every month, they give you a coupon for a free topping. Speaking of, the menu has one thing: Curry. You specify how big a bowl you want and which toppings you want. You can order a plate of curry sauce over straight rice but you'd be laughed at. At the very least, you want a slice of katsu. Chicken or pork, it's your choice. But get the pork. However, if you want to be pegged as someone who really knows their stuff, ask for cheese. They apply it generously over the sauce and it melts into it. This might sound gross to you. You would be wrong. Try it and realize just how wrong. You can be in and out of the place for under 10 bucks and it's worth every penny. I know my Japanese curry. This is the best you're going to find in the entire country.
The silver lining to the place I had intended to dine tonight being unexpectedly shuttered was that I stumbled upon this gem about 20 minutes later trying to find some place that looked good. Yakiniku Gen is an unassuming little place in the basement at 250 E 52nd St., just off of 2nd Ave, and purports to offer authentic Japanese barbecue. I don't know squat about authentic Japanese barbecue, but the kalbi (isn't that Korean? but all - literally all - the other customers I saw were speaking Japanese to each other and the staff) was wonderfully marbled and flavorful. Just some beautiful, beautiful beef. There are a bunch of other cuts (mostly of beef) on the menu, and you grill it yourself at the table. I made the mistake of ordering chicken thighs with my short ribs, before I realized I would be doing the cooking, and overcooked it all in fear that I'd undercook it. Oh well. The meal was worth it for that beef. They serve beer, sake, and some other alcoholic drinks, but the selection is very limited (and not that interesting). Most of the menu is 20% off through this coming weekend in celebration of their one year anniversary, in case anyone is in town. Here's a nice little review of the restaurant from chopsticksny.com.