The East Village has no shortage of Japanese restaurants, but when I seek some warm comfort food from the plethora of excellent neighborhood eats, I head straight for Curry-Ya as they serve up the best Japanese-style curry I’ve had in New York City.
First off, Japanese curry has evolved over time into having a distinct flavor very distinct from its origins in Indian curry and is a common meal in Japan. Generally, it’s thicker and more mild in terms of the spice level and has a touch of sweetness. Each region of Japan has many variations in terms of preparation and ingredients. Curry-Ya boasts on its menu that its “Gourmet Japanese Curry” is made with a chicken and oxtail base, veggies, fruits, and other spices stewed for over eight hours.
My favorite dishes at Curry-Ya are the Chicken Katsu Curry, a deep-fried chicken cutlet, and the Berkshire Pork Katsu Curry, a deep-fried pork cutlet, baked with egg and cheese over the bed of curry and rice. It’s heavenly. The Hamburger Steak Curry is also wonderful, a burger-style patty made with high-quality beef packed with pure flavor over curry and rice that coaxes my yuppy heart to feel like a kid again.
I also really appreciate that unlike a lot of other Japanese curry places or the readily pre-made Japanese curry packets you can buy at nearby markets, I never feel gross after eating at Curry-Ya. No bad greasy or MSG hangover feeling, which is a testament to the quality of the product. To accompany your curry joy, I also recommend the beers they have, in particular the Soba Beer and the Kawaba Snow Weizen.
Curry-Ya is the kind of place to go eat alone after work or catch up with a friend. The restaurant is small, seating about dozen or so along a marble bar with a pleasant minimalist interior and doesn’t feel dingy and cramped like a lot of other places in the area that can feel more geared toward the college crowd.
If you don’t want to wait for a seat, they do a ridiculous amount of to-go orders with a seemingly endless deliveries leaving the restaurant, but I highly recommend the experience of sitting at the bar, adding in the pickled vegetables and other condiments, and eating straight from the individual piping hot cauldrons for each order.
Pro-tip: Curry-Ya is cash only so plan ahead.