Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Hurry Curry of Tokyo

I get annoyed by restaurants names that are puns. Not majorly annoyed, like when I see dogs wearing hats or drivers who don't acknowledge when you let them cut in front of you, but a medium amount of annoyance. Admittedly, I ate several meals at Wok N Roll when it was in Old Town, although usually it was late on Friday nights and there wasn't much else open. (I didn't mind Crepevine for its name so much as the unbelievably bad service I got there on both my visits.) There was a hot dog stand not far from where I lived in Boulder called "Mustard's Last Stand" to which I refused to go. The idea of eating in place referring to a battle in which hundreds of people lost their lives was bizarre. So, naturally, the idea of eating in a restaurant whose name resembles the Japanese word for suicide by disembowelment was not appealing.

But Friday afternoon Elizabeth and I were trying to think of a place to go - we'd intended to eat lunch around 1 but something came up and we couldn't eat until close to 4 - and I suggested we give the happy hour at Hurry Curry a try. I had recently been to Wokcano next door for happy hour and thought it was really good, so we decided to give it a shot.

All of the appetizers at Hurry Curry are available in a half-size portion for two dollars. All small beers are two dollars as well, as are the sake martinis. Elizabeth ordered an apple sake martini. I have never tasted one of those (and I still haven't) but she enjoyed it. I stuck with Sapporo, which they served, unfortunately, almost at room temperature. (After one of those I switched to Kirin, which was much better.)

We ordered 4 appetizers: two orders of fried shrimp, one fried chicken, and one gyoza. We were given the choice of vegetable or pork gyoza and went with the vegetable. A couple years ago I'd read a review of Hurry Curry that raved about the fried shrimp, and I was anxious to try them. (Well, perhaps "anxious" is too strong a word; the place has been open about 5 years and I have yet to eat there, despite having been to Old Town hundreds of times in that span.)

The shrimp were good but disappointing, if that makes any sense. They're jumbo shrimp in Japanese bread crumbs, and they were very tasty, but they are not much different than many other shrimp I've had, from Trader Joe's frozen shrimp to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. I ate all of them and they were well worth the price. Their only sin was not being extraordinary, which I thought they were going to be. High expectations are a bitch.

The gyoza were excellent, as good as any I have had in Old Town. They were not over-fried, but fried just enough to get them crunchy yet leave them delicate enough to make the filling the main attraction. Both the shrimp and gyoza were served with sauces that you have probably had before many times - Thai chili and soy, respectively - but still good.

And that brings us to the fried chicken: sake marinated chicken breast meat, battered and fried and served with their "famous chicken dressing." (I'm not sure about the veracity of that last part - I have dozens of friends who have been eating out in Pasadena for many years, and not once have I heard one of them mention this dressing.) These were outstanding. The dressing was good, probably just mayonnaise with spices, but these didn't need any dressing. They were fried up crisp and juicy and they were lightly spiced, and there was an ample amount of them. They would have been a bargain at three or four times the $2 happy hour price.

The 3-6 happy hour on Mondays-Fridays isn't exactly the most convenient time (Damn, I wish it went until 7) but I will definitely try to make it back soon and try the rest of the appetizers. I've been to several happy hours in Old Town in the last month (Brix 42, Gyu-Kaku, Wokcano, Hurry Curry, and Barney's Ltd.) and this was my favorite.

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