Curry House – Fraternity Rush at the CRY House

curry house, sawtelle, west los angeles, ca - vegetable curry

Curry House

2130 Sawtelle Blvd (@Olympic), 2nd Floor
Los Angeles, CA
and (among others)
17865 Colima Road
City of Industry, CA 91748

Here’s a little secret: I wasn’t a sorority girl in college.

Most people are surprised by what would seem to be a natural next step after discovering a different, precursor secret that throws them into shock and wonderment: I was a cheerleader in high school.

A high school cheerleader?!?! Yeah. Get over it. I was also class president, honor society, and a thespian, so don’t call me an overachieving dum homo.

During college, I think I might have stepped foot into a fraternity house once or twice, maybe three times if mistakenly walking into a frat party thinking it was an unusually loud meeting of my Friday night Bible study counts. I was just a different person in college from the person I am now. Back then, I was quiet, shy, introverted, conservative, and a little bit anti-social.

So technically, I am exactly the same person! I just didn’t have a blog on which to perpetrate my loud, gregarious, outgoing, deliciously glamorous alter ego.

Because I wasn’t involved with anything Greek during college – not even food since my first taste of a real gyro was after I moved back to LA – the only real idea of what fraternities are like is what I got from Beverly Hills 90210 in those pathetic years when the show was clinging desperately to the last four viewers who actually wanted to follow Brandon and Brenda in college. I swear, I wasn’t one of them; they lost me once Emily Valentine went psycho on Brandon.

curry house, sawtelle, west los angeles - signage
don’t curry, be happy

The reason I bring up fraternities is – nothing. I really have no reason to bring up fiscally manipulated social systems other than its being an opportunity to off-handedly mention Beverly Hills 90210. It goes like this: Fraternity > Steve Sanders and the KEG house > Beverly Hills 90210 > Beverly Hills > Curry House. The first place I ever tried the Japanese version of curry in a restaurant was Curry House. At that time, Curry House was on La Cienega in Beverly Hills where Gyu-kaku is now.

(By the way, if anyone can guess why Gyu-kaku, and in particular, that location of Gyu-kaku, might be important to me, I will invite you over for curry at the Delicious castle – but I am pretty sure no one will guess).

curry house, sawtelle, west los angeles - japanese style curry and spaghetti
japa-talian? ita-panese?

I thought Curry House was genius in the form of cheap Japanese “home” food being sold at a deceptive premium because here, curry, particularly because it was served with ohsoexotic Italian spaghetti noodles, was considered “exotic.” It is the same as opening up something exotically American like MacNCheese House in Tokyo and charging upwards of $9 for a bowl of Kraft, and throwing in a few sun-dried tomatoes. It can’t be homemade – the mac n cheese, or the curry, has to be from a package. Curry House is a division of the parent company House Foods which makes packaged Vermont Curry. I cannot say with authority and certainty that Curry House serves packaged curry, but who’s to say that’s a bad thing anyway?

If you happen to know the packaged Japanese curry world, and what a world it is, you know that it is competitive playing field with many players. However, the real game is between Vermont Curry and S&B Golden Curry. If this were economics, the packaged Japanese curry world is basically an oligarchy. If this were November on the UCLA campus, the packaged curry world would be fraternity rush. If this were Sawtelle Boulevard, Curry House would be Alpha Beta and Hurry Curry would be tri-Lambda.

Wow, how does she contrive these all-too-perfect parallels?!

I’m reaching. I know.

It was only very recently that I went back to Curry House after a long hiatus that was the result of an inevitable affair with Hurry Curry. In essence, Curry House and Hurry Curry are the same restaurant, but for one reason or another, people will pledge undying, unwavering allegiance to one or the other. I happened to fall in lust with Hurry Curry for a ridiculous reason — Sawtelle is closer than La Cienega. Curry House opened up in the cursed second floor location of the plaza directly across the street from Hurry Curry a while ago, but I didn’t feel the need to go right away. Of course, when you live on the Westside long enough, dining options on Sawtelle will get stale. A “new” old restaurant was still “new.”

curry house, sawtelle blvd, west los angeles, ca - salad
italian salad, japanese dressing
curry house, sawtelle, west los angeles, ca - curry only
a bag of green giant

And now I can say that my preference for Hurry Curry no longer has to do with the superficial reason of proximity. Hurry Curry isn’t necessarily the best damned curry in Los Angeles, since it is just curry after all (and it always tastes better made at home), but Curry House was pretty bad. I am always amused by Japanese restaurants’ serving a Denny’s side salad of iceberg lettuce and shredded carrots. Curry House’s salad went a little more upscale with a curly parsley garnish. Fancy. I mean really. Come on. At least go with Italian flat leaf parsley.

curry house, sawtelle, west los angeles, ca - curry on rice
like curry on rice
curry house, sawtelle, west los angeles, ca - curry house special
“wears a helmet” kind of special

The Vegetable Curry looked like an odd mix of frozen Green Giant vegetables and fresh exotic mushrooms. Curry always comes out in a small crock pot or bowl separate from either the rice or noodles. Though the novelty of Japanese curry is the spaghetti, I cannot bring myself to eat curry with noodles. Of course, that is just about the most contradictory thing I could ever say since I don’t like rice either, but I can’t help it. I also proclaim my hatred for animal organs but have no problem sucking down uni. The vegetables didn’t offend with any sign of freezer burn, but I was turned off by the flavor of the curry. It is very different from the flavor of S&B Golden Curry to which I am so accustomed at home. Curry House’s curry was “earthy,” and like I have said before with the definition of the word, the curry was faintly reminiscent of dirt. I picked out most of the vegetables, using sections of untainted rice to wipe off as much of the offending sauce as I could. I have never tried packaged Vermont Curry, but if that’s what it tastes like, I am sticking to S&B.

The deal breaker on Curry House, however, was the “Special.” I was worried about the Special from the picture in the menu and the overly-excited fonts and colors on the menu description, but I reminded myself that this is the cuisine of a culture that also gave us girls who actually dress like a pink and white mouthless Kitty. I can’t even remember what the Special was supposed to be. It appeared to be some sort of stir-fried leftover casserole on a bed of rice, garnished with a hard boiled egg. I tried it. Strangely sweet in an awkward way, it was definitely “special.”

I went to Curry House again with my entire family, this time to the location in the City of Industry. Curry House is a chain. I have no idea what possessed my family to go to a restaurant that I suspect in Japan is the equivalent of a Coco’s in the US. I stayed away from all varieties of curry on the menu based on my earthy experience on Sawtelle. Hypothesizing that Curry House’s real strength, despite its name, is not in curry, but in their Japanified western dishes like pasta and hamburger steak (which is a burger served like a steak), I ordered the Chili Shrimp Spaghetti.

Just call me Lambda Lambda Lambda. Or Omega Mu.

** a year ago today, i wrote “The Wedding Crash” post that eventually had to be censored, even though I didn’t get to crash the wedding in a fun way **
** two years ago today, i had uni spaghetti and jamba’s acai supercharger kept me up ’til tuesday **

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