Kearny Mesa and Clairemont Mesa areas in the north part of San Diego City are where you’ll find the greatest abundance of good Asian restaurants and markets. Curry House Japanese Curry and Spaghetti on Convoy Street just north of Ostrow Street is one of the first you’ll see coming from Downtown San Diego. I must confess that I’m not all that familiar with Japanese food, but the restaurant’s self description has me rather skeptical about the authenticity of its food.
The joint is apparently a chain franchise owned by House Foods America Corporation (HFAC), a corporation that does tofu manufacturing, Japanese food import (spice and curry mixes), and running Curry House restaurants (the original restaurant is in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo). I’ve never came across a HFAC curry mix at the supermarkets I shop at, but would hazard a guess that those mixes are what their restaurants use.
The little San Diego restaurant is quite chic with modern decor and kept very clean. It serves mostly non-seafood Japanese curry dishes and a few interesting cross-overs like spaghetti with various curries rather than tomato sauce. One of these days I’ll try it, but right now I’m too fond of their katsu curry to deviate.
The Japanese curry is quite unlike the other curries you find at Thai, Indian, or Indonesian restaurants… Well.. If anything I’d say it most resembles the Thai green curry, but isn’t as hot. It is quite mild, sweet, with a touch of mint (or perhaps wasabi?)… and it goes surprisingly well with fried meat! It is not hot at all especially compared with the Indian or the Thai versions. I can have their fried chicken katsu curry over rice everyday of the week and not get bored with it. For $4.99 (daily special) you get 3 chunky strips of moderately breaded and beautifully crisp fried chicken over perfectly cooked Japanese sticky rice, all covered in ample curry sauce…. and a crisp fresh salad with Japanese light and tangy sauce on the side. It’s a simple enough dish that blend exquisitely well in your mouth. The Menchi (fried hamburger steak) katsu curry is also very good, though somehow doesn’t seem as oriental as the chicken or the shrimp tempura versions are.
The a la carte versions are a bit pricey at $8, though. Portion size is sufficient and no more… not much chance for left over here unless you’re having a poor appetite. Service is very fast and attentive. I think all the staff here are Japanese, though they speak English well and are always eager to help.
This place is rather out of the way for a Downtown denizen like me, but it is just a few minutes north of Qualcomm Football Stadium (current home of the San Diego Chargers). Just go north on 163 from the stadium, go west on Aero Drive, and then right on Convoy St and you’re there. A good Japanese chow to warm you up before or after the game.
Curry House: 3860 Convoy Street (at Ostrow/Mercury Street) #102, San Diego, CA 92111. Tel. (858) 278-2454. Opens daily from 11:30AM-9PM. Website: www.house-foods.com/CurryHouse/storeinfo_san_diego.aspx