A friend of mine has, over the past few months, been raving to me about Hurry Curry of Tokyo, a Sawtelle Boulevard-based Japanese curry house, with comments like, Tim you’ve got to try it,” and, “Have you been yet? The Lobster Bisque is amazing.” I would often answer with dismissive and oblique responses such as, “Yeah, I’ll get around to it soon,” (clearly, I was in no hurry to get curry from Hurry Curry of Tokyo). Well, after one more reminder over the weekend from Geraldine (yes, that IS her name) I eventually decided make the short hop over to that pocket of land between Olympic and Santa Monica Boulevards on Sawtelle, that locals refer to as “Little Japan,” and try a lunch at the much vaunted Hurry Curry of Tokyo.
When a restaurant is promoted with such glorious accolades it is to be expected that certain “expectations” will be present upon eventual examination, and as is often the case those lofty expectations can sometimes lead to disappointment, but on this occasion they were certainly fulfilled, no, I’ll go further, they were exceeded!
I arrived shortly after one o’clock in the afternoon of a delightful Monday, expecting Hurry Curry of Tokyo to be relatively free of diners, but on the contrary, it was packed and bustling with energy. The manager, a welcoming gentleman by the name of “Mike” managed to find me a wall table, presented me with a menu, and took my drink order before being spirited away. It was only a minute or two before he returned with said diet soda, and then only a few minutes before my server arrived to enquire if I had had time to decide upon my preferred sustainance. I thought for a few seconds and said, “No,” at which point he smiled and said, “No problem, please take your time.” For a moment I had the thought that “Please Take Your Time Curry of Tokyo” may be a more apt moniker, but within one millisecond realized that it does not quite have the same ring to it, does it?
The menu at Hurry Curry of Tokyo is, for want of a better word, complete, and although curry is the theme here, they do offer a selection of Japanese pastas such as Seafood Spaghetti (shrimp, scallops, calamari and fish in soy-wine sauce, or tomato sauce, $10.95), or the rather tempting sounding Hiyashi (chilled noodles with shrimp, sliced cucumbers, pickled ginger, and garnished with sliced hard boiled egg served in a soy vinaigrette dressing, $8.95). But no, it was a curry that I was in a hurry to eat.
After studying the menu, and also remembering the many suggestions of my friend Geri, I eventually decided to “go for it,” and order a Lobster Bisque (a cup for $3.95), an appetizer in the form of their Fried Calamari (calamari, lightly breaded, flash fried and served with tartar and cocktail sauce, $5.95) and, after consulting manager Mike (who appeared very knowledgeable about the dishes, incidentally) I went for the “special” on the chalkboard that day, the Fried Chicken Curry ($9.95).
My Lobster Bisque arrived swiftly, and I must state that it is rare that I experience a “voila” taste experience, but this was certainly one of those moments. Creamy, but light, flavorful, but not smothering, this has to be up there in the list of the best bisques around, and at any price to boot. Yes, it really is that good! My calamari arrived a few moments later, and again, it was more than notable. Generous (it could well make a satiating lunch on its own), with a good balance of tentacles and cut rings, it was coated in a grease free batter, tender, sweet and with a pleasant nutty flavor. I don’t know where Hurry Curry of Tokyo sources their seafood, but it appears that they are certainly very enterprising about it, because this was excellent grade squid, for sure.
The main dish arrived, replete with the mini-salad that was attired with a light soy dressing, and was again generous. A multitude of fried chicken pieces (they actually have the look and taste of a more barbecued creation), a large mound of white rice (brown is available), and a bowl of curry gravy. The curry gravy was intriguingly delicious, and so I enquired with the manager about the recipe and he gave me a clue to the secret of this smoky sauce, “We use a mixture of various meat juices,” he said, “Pork, beef , chicken, it gives you a beginning, middle and end taste experience. Yes, it was robust and a million miles away from any of the “powder in water” mix that some establishments pass as a curry gravy.
One recent feature that Hurry Curry of Tokyo has, apparently, recently introduced is their “Happy Hour.” This “hour” is in fact three hours for food (3 p.m.-6 p.m., $3 appetizers), and five hours for drinks (3 p.m.-8 p.m., $3 beers, and Martinis). With their crystal clear flat-screens showing sporting events, it sounds as fun and tempting as the food!
Hurry Curry of Tokyo is quite something, clean, sharp décor, good service, and above all fantastic food at amazing prices, I thank Geri for the suggestion, and although I did not hurry to try it, at least I have had the experience of delayed gratification. I shall, however, hurry back, and soon!
2131 Sawtelle Blvd, West Los Angeles