Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Japanese Curry Zen @ 5020 Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas

Curry!  OMG do I love Curry... Indian Curry, Thai Curry, Japanese Curry-it's all good.. The amalgamation of spices, creating that distinct, deep, rich, umber slurry, with heavenly wafts filling my nostrils; you literally taste it through your olfactory senses like an emotion or a memory (Curry is my Pavlov's dog)..

Curry is a favorite from my childhood; just before spending the Summer vacation in Japan, My Mom would make batches of Curry and hundreds of Fried Dumplings for my Dad to eat while we were gone.  I loved hanging out in the kitchen, helping her cook these dishes, and it is distinctly home cooking.

The video below best shows what I feel inside when I'm near Curry.....just think of me as the cat.....

Curry Zen is located in the same Commercial Center as Monta, Raku and Trattoria Nakamuraya, making it's own 'Little Tokyo' deep in the heart of Chinatown.  It's a small venue with only a couple of tables and a counter, so you can imagine there's a prime, rush hour wait - makes sense to time carefully with this restaurant.  But it's clearly a family run business with Husband and Wife manning the kitchen, which is endearing.  

The Curry is a simple gravy, made entirely from Spices and Vegetables.  It has the consistency somewhere between a sauce and stew, with deep but clean flavors that highlight each Spice in a way I've never tasted.  Almost a science, a brief explanation is on a placard on each table (in Japanese) describing the ingredients and methodology- one thing that I find about Japanese culture is the cult like devotion to the culinary process.

On the table, you find various condiments that I find unusual, but welcoming: Almond and Raisins for one, then as the Curry is spicy but not hot, there's a bevy of dry spices to ramp up the heat.  I enjoyed working with a sprinkling of Mild, then incrementally moving towards Hot Chili Peppers.

Along with the Curry, there's a selection of toppings and fried accompaniments: such a Chicken or Pork Tonkatsu, Croquettes, Fried Shrimp and Vegetables. I really enjoy the fact that I can customize my Curry, and I immediately wanted to 'load up' on the fried goodies:  I ordered the Pork Tonkatsu and Fried Shrimp.  Now given the price point, the Tonkatsu was amazing; not your tough, thin piece of stringy meat, Curry Zen presented a really good piece of Pork that was fried perfectly and for an extra $3.50, it's a steal!  The breaded Shrimp was properly cooked and a great mini addition to counter the Tonkastu, you can never have enough fried meat on your plate is my philosophy!

I enjoyed the service, both the Husband and Wife repeatedly asked me how my dish tasted and I appreciated their attentiveness.  And I know I will be coming back, not only for the food, but I want to support the smaller businesses in Vegas and these are good people!

Curry Zen on UrbanspoonRatings (Out of Five Stars)
Food:            5
Ambience:    3
Service:        5