Recipe Box: Chicken Katsu Curry

Chicken Katsu and Japanese Curry

Chicken Katsu Curry

A short while ago, I was rocking an intense craving for chicken katsu curry. Japanese style curry is something I ate in abundance in my late teens/early twenties, and rarely indulged in within the last five or so years because I just felt I had tasted it all. Cut to the L.A. Street Food Fest this summer and discovering Fat Spoon, purveyors of the most delicious and layered Japanese curry I’ve tasted. During the Great Curry Craving of 2012, I sought out Fat Spoon only to discover it had closed its doors. Devastated, I was wandering the streets of Little Tokyo, lost in a haze of inadequate curry. Despondent, I returned home…determined to make my own curry!

Consulting my Information Guru – the wise Internet – I used my Google-Fu and found the most comprehensive, step-by-step tutorial to making Japanese curry by Marc Matsumoto:

Now, I made a few adjustments. Namely, I cooked my chicken separately because I wanted a nice Panko crusted katsu chicken.
I also did not add peas, but mushrooms and broccoli. I did not have a pod of cardamon handy, so I just sprinkled a pinch of cardamon.

I will never, ever go back to instant “block” curry after this. Thanks, Marc!


You’ll Need:
Boneless/skinless chicken breasts
at least 1 c. of Panko fine breadcrumbs
1/3rd c. flour
1 tablespoon Spanish Paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. onion powder)
2 eggs
Oil for frying (I use & recommend grape seed oil)

Equipment: Heavy frying skillet / Tongs / Small bowl / cutting board / Saran Wrap / Rolling Pin / Pie pan

Now, onto the chicken. I used three boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I don’t own a meat tenderizer, but it was essential to thin out the chicken. So I wrapped each piece in plastic wrap and used my large rolling pin to flatten it out. It was highly effective, plus good therapy.

In a pie pan, I dumped my Panko breadcrumbs, about 1/3rd c. of flour and sprinkled in some Spanish Paprika and garlic powder. In a small bowl, I whipped up two eggs.

When the oil was nice and hot, I dunked my chicken into the egg and then wallowed it around in the seasoned Panko mix until it was well coated. When it was ready to get crispy crittered, I gently laid the chicken away from me in the oil and let it sizzle and get golden on one side before I flipped it over.

Do not crowd your pan! Have patience.
Do not prematurely flip your chicken. Trust in the science, my young ones. Your chicken will fry nice and golden. Just pay attention.

Once the chicken is adequately fried, let it cool and drain on a pile of unsuspecting paper towels. Work the chicken in batches and soon you will be rewarded with amazingly crunchy ‘n’ crispy chicken katsu to accompany your homemade curry sauce.

Serve over rice and brag to Twitter that you just mastered chicken katsu curry and ALL FURTHER ARGUMENTS ARE INVALID.

Homemade Chicken Katsu Curry

Fat Spoon (Downtown Los Angeles)

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo

NOTE: Fat Spoon no longer exists. Boohoo!

This post is rather late, as I recently learned that dear Fat Spoon closed its doors at the end of November. How did I find this out, you ask? Hankering for some delectable tonkatsu curry, I merrily ventured off to Little Tokyo after an early morning doctor appointment in downtown Los Angeles, did a little shopping in Marukai, and walked over to Fat Spoon…where I came face to face with a sign declaring the sad news that they had closed. In my most Shatner-esque moment, I flung my arms akimbo, groceries hanging heavily in each hand, threw my head back and cried, “Nooooooooooo!”

The note told of re-opening, however, and having a sister restaurant, Toranoko, that I have yet to patronize and therefore cannot comment on. I was lying in wait for another visit to Fat Spoon so I could have more dishes to comment on, but alas, who knows when that will be. My hope now is that this post will encourage others to give the gang at Fat Spoon another go if and when they re-open elsewhere. I just hope wherever, whenever they reopen, the restaurant remains close (or closer) to me!

I first came across Fat Spoon at the L.A. Street Food Festival this summer, where their beef tongue curry woke up my worn out tastebuds and reminded me of a love I once had for Japanese curry. Over the years, I have grown disenchanted with J-style curry, though, as I increasingly found it to be a salty, gloppy mess covering up poorly executed tonkatsu or chicken-katsu. So when the Fat Spoon curry crossed my path, I made quite a fuss over them in person and they rewarded my enthusiasm with a $20.00 gift certificate. Sweet.

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo
Daikon Condiments

Flash forward a month or so when I decided to meet up with one of my ‘net pals and I suggested Fat Spoon. Only problem? Totally forgot my gift card. D’oh. Still, the prices weren’t overwhelmingly awful, so we stuck with Fat Spoon for lunch.

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo
Tarako ($10)
Salted cod roe, cream, dried seaweed & chopped green onion

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo

I was waffling between this, the uni pasta and the tonkatsu curry ever sine my companion agreed to dining at Fat Spoon. Figuring I would use my gift certificate for the Uni Pasta another day, I went with the Tarako. The perfect blend of salty and creamy, this dish was comfort incarnate. When I was a kid, Fettuccine Alfredo was my favorite, FAVORITE dish and had I grown up in a home with Japanese flavors, I like to think this dish is what I would have called my favorite, FAVORITE!

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo
Pork Cutlet (Tonkatsu) Curry ($10)

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo
Curry Sauce

My friend Ana ordered this signature dish (I credit my non-too-subtle brainwashing attempts, including quoting previous reviews claiming this to be the most moist pork cutlet ever) and happily tucked in. We both admired the plating of this dish, keeping the meat, rice and sauce separate to let the diner measure out how much of what they want. This curry is very authentic; the hint of natural sweetness from a fruit such as an apple was subtly evident under the mildly spiced earthy curry. Oh, and the pork? Totally lived up to the hype.

Fat Spoon - Little Tokyo
Baked Sweet Potato (compliments of the chef)
vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce

The chef sent this out for us to gorge out on. Gorge we did, too, after securing our eyes back into their sockets (too gross? Sorry; wanted to illustrate how surprised we were by the gesture and the simple genius of the dish itself). Sweet, but not sugary, this dessert had our spoons competing for another scoop. Yum.

Ah, Fat Spoon. I had an incredible time visiting you and only snagged but a sampling of your delicious fare. My Christmas wish is that you will reopen in 2013 (somewhere easily attainable for me, She Who Does Not Drive) and serve up your flavorful, moderately priced albeit powerfully addictive food once more.

Stay Updated on Fat Spoon news:
Fat Spoon on Facebook

Pho 79 (Alhambra)

I live in the San Gabriel Valley part of Los Angeles where there are a lot of hidden gems in regards to Southeast Asian food. One such a place, and not all that hidden, is Pho 79 located in Alhambra.

Pho 79

I went there for lunch after running errands with Kitten Teeth. We were greeted very quickly, sat right away and our orders were placed in a timely fashion. I mention this because Pho 79 is notorious for either very good or very lackluster service.
This is what we ordered:

Golden Shells filled with meat and mushroom
Order: #19, Golden shells (egg rolls) filled with meat and mushrooms
Verdict: While initially good, the grease and mystery meat kind of got to me. Even with the greens to balance it, I wouldn’t order this again.

Rare Beef Pho
Order: #22, Rare beef pho with Thai basil, bean sprouts, jalapenos, green onions, cilantro and lime to garnish
Verdict: Absolutely scrumptious! The broth was perfection on its own, but I’m a sucker for Sriracha and added it for spice. The beef was delicious, cooking in the broth with just enough pull until it tenderly came apart in my mouth. All of the garnish was fresh. A very addictive, simple dish.

Spicy Chicken Curry and French Bread
Order: Spicy Chicken Curry with French Bread
Verdict: Not spicy in the least. Maybe ’cause we’re “white”? Unknown, but nevertheless still a tasty dish with freshly baked bread. Generous portions perfect to reheat that evening or the next day.

Not pictured is my beverage, their lemonade. It was fresh squeezed with sugar and a wedge of lime. It was magnificent.

It’s worth noting that while service came to a screeching halt while we waited to be given our check, all it took was an artful wave of the hand to grab their attention and wrap things up.

Prices: Less than $10 for mains
Would I Go Again? Yes

Pho 79
29 South Garfield Avenue
Alhambra, CA 91801
(626) 289-0239

Pho 79 on Urbanspoon