what: Beef Curry
where: Menkoi Ramen House, 1004 Gervais St.
Just about anywhere beef is eaten, there’s a beef stew that is a staple of the culture. In France there’s the classic wine-stewed beef bourguignon. Several countries focus on the tougher-to-cook parts of the cow, such as tripe or oxtails, and boil the hell out of them until the meat is tender and falling apart. Just this past week many folks celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a much-beloved favorite: Irish stew, featuring carrots, potatoes, huge cuts of beef and for many a nice bottle of Guinness to bring it all together.
One of the harder to find but just as captivating beef stews is Japanese curry. It features the same carrots and potatoes that make up the foundation of Irish stew, but completely differs in the addictingly sweet — often sweetened with grated apple or apple pear — and spicy curry sauce. Curry was brought to Japan by the British during the Meiji Era (late 1800s to early 1900s) along with likely vague notions of beef stew. The Japanese brought the flavors together to form their own version, which quickly became mainstream there in the 1900s, especially when instant curry roux was created. It’s today still one of the country’s most popular dishes.
Menkoi’s version is humble and filling. The carrots, potatoes and beef are all melt-in-your-mouth tender. The rice accompanying the curry is thick and chewy, perfect for soaking up every last bite of the sweet, spicy, savory sauce that brings it all together. There’s nothing better than folding all the rice into the curry and watching it disappear into the bowl, knowing that every bite will be just as good as the last until it’s all gone.