Posted in Food, Peninsula, San Francisco, South Bay

Japanese Curry to Try Before You Die

The name “Muracci’s” sounds awfully Italian to me.  Supposedly, it’s the nickname of the owners’ son.

Instead, this restaurant serves up what is arguably one of the best Japanese curries outside of Japan…so I’ve been told.  7×7 Magazine even included it on their 100 Things to Try Before You Die list for 2010.  But with its San Francisco Financial District location and weekday only hours, I’d never make it down there.

So when they opened their second location in Los Altos (“Muracci’s 2 Japanese Curry and Grill“), I was thrilled.  Finally I’d get to see if it was worth the hype.

Some friends who tried it declared it was the best curry they’d had since visiting Japan.  I’ve never stayed in Japan long enough to try any curry, so I’d have to base my review solely on the dish’s individual merits.

The menu is very basic.  So instead of getting too adventurous, I decided to stick with what they’re known for and get the Katsu Curry w/Veggies (breaded pork chop).

The verdict?…It may well have been one of the best Japanese curries I’ve tried.  And I got it to go, so imagine if it had been fresh from the kitchen!

Muracci’s curry had many layers of flavor and a much more warm spicy flavor profile.  It’s not thick and pasty like the usual stuff served Stateside, but more of a gravy or sauce consistency.  And it’s not as sweet (other Japanese curries will typically add more apple to give it a fruitier sweet flavor and less heat).

The husband-wife team that owns these two restaurants make their curries from scratch.  It apparently takes two days to make and simmers for 20 hours.  The result is a curry that is rich, warm, and has a lot more depth in its flavor profile than most (think five spice or cloves).  I wimped out and ordered the “mild” version (there are three levels of heat to chose from), but I didn’t regret it since it had just a hint of real heat.  And the homemade soup stock base gave it a wonderfully meaty, robust flavor.

You also get some pickled veggies to start, which is a nice touch (they include some of it in your to go order, as well).  I hear it gets super crowded during the lunch rush, so come early or late.  It’s a tiny, yet clean restaurant, so it’s not exactly great for large groups.  I was also impressed at how genuinely friendly the staff was.

Muracci’s curry was different…a very GOOD different.  I will most definitely be back to try their other dishes as well as their curry noodle bowls.

It’s the perfect Japanese comfort food.  Just don’t come here expecting sushi!

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Posted in Food, Peninsula

Redwood City’s Michelin Recommendation

I’ve frequently complained that superior service and truly inventive cuisine just doesn’t exist on the Peninsula.  If you’re a career waiter and take it seriously, you’d end up somewhere higher profile in the city.  And the most ambitious chefs would want the glory of cooking in San Francisco.  It’s just my opinion, though I know I’m generalizing quite a bit.

Enter Donato Enoteca in Redwood City.  The location has seen a lot of turnover (right across the street from the RC Library), but it’s a seemingly perfect spot for a restaurant like this.  There’s lots of light bouncing off the clean white walls, white tablecloths, and very rustic accents and chairs.  The place is charming and actually feels like it’d be a neighborhood joint in the city if it weren’t for it’s large size.  There’s also ample space for al fresco dining here.

Though @istelleinad and I dined here only for lunch, I got a good feel for the kitchen’s potential.  It should also be noted that the restaurant is Michelin guide recommended (but not starred).

We started with the Proschutto plate.  It was heavenly with thin slices of salty tender meat, accompanied by two small baked cheese tarts mixed with egg that had the texture and taste of a quiche, and a tiny bowl of pickled spring veggies.  It was a thoughtful combination.

@istelleinad had the risotto special that sat in a large homemade parmesan cheese crisp “bowl”.  I had the housemade radicchio ravioli with grape tomatoes.  @istelleinad’s risotto was a bit heavy with the cheese crisp it was served with, but the risotto itself was flavorful, seasoned and prepared well.

My ravioli was also delicate and simple.  I appreciated that the ravioli tasted housemade and wasn’t overly heavy.

It was a well prepared, simple meal with delicate touches here and there.  The service was nothing special, but good.  For now, this restaurant fills a niche on the Peninsula.  It’s expertly prepared Italian food with a sophisticated (but not stuffy) vibe at a reasonable cost.  It’s not a chain, its cuisine isn’t generic, and its menu is more interesting than most.  This place has character.

Donato Enoteca on Urbanspoon