The sit-down outpost of Asian retail food titan House Foods, Curry House is the epitome of Japanese casual dining, a benign establishment for diners suspicious of the non-native menus found elsewhere in the South Bay. Every dish is submerged in a gravy-like slurry the color of Indian warpaint, a fusion of oil, butter, flour, spices, vegetable paste and MSG that is a nationwide obsession in Japan. In fact, House Foods curry–identical to the restaurant stuff–is available in microwave-ready vacuum packets at Japanese markets all over town.

However Curry House has a secret weapon–for many years literally secret. It did not appear on the menu and was only available to-go. Curry pan are deep-fried capsules of yeast dough concealing a payload of extra-spicy curried potato. These small pleasures are a rarity in Los Angeles outside of the occasional Japanese food fair. One makes a fine appetizer or snack; two are nearly enough for a meal, and a steal at $1.80 per. Cooked to order, the panko-dusted pods inflate in the fryer and expel a palate-scarring jet of chilied air when breached. Be patient but unafraid. Curry pan is just about the only reason to visit the Curry House chain, and bodily injury is a justifiable risk.

Curry House: 1425 W. Artesia Boulevard, Gardena; (310) 323-7017.

LA Weekly